Once they get past the lost hour of sleep, most people are happy to welcome the “spring forward” time change. It means more daylight in the evening to enjoy walking the dog, a daily run or a bike ride with the kids.
Aside from being a harbinger of spring, the time change also serves as a life-changing reminder to check those smoke alarm batteries. Fire safety organizations and local fire departments use the twice-a-year time changes as an easy reminder to check the batteries and overall functionality of home smoke alarms.
Roughly three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or where the smoke alarms aren't working, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Don’t put your family at risk over something as simple as changing batteries.
1. Make sure you have enough smoke alarms and they are in the proper location.
Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level. Larger homes may need more smoke alarms.
Place your smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Keep them away from the kitchen (and at least 10 feet from the stove) to reduce false alarms.
2. Invest in interconnected smoke alarms.
All your smoke alarms should be connected, so when one beeps, they all do, but most homes don't have this level of protection. When interconnected smoke alarms are installed, make sure they are all from the same manufacturer. If the alarms are not compatible, they may not sound.
3. Check that you have two types of alarms in your home.
There are two different types of alarms – ionization and photoelectric – and experts recommend having both. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires.
4. Ensure your alarms are in working order.
While you’re changing out the batteries, it’s also a good time to test the functionality of the smoke alarm and the expiration date. If needed, purchase and install new smoke alarms.
Here are some more tips for maintaining your smoke alarms from NFPA:
- Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Smoke alarms should be maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
- Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or the manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
In the time it takes you to update the clocks around your house, you also can change the batteries and test the smoke alarms – and that effort means a lot more than making sure the microwave isn’t an hour behind.
Want to learn more about fire safety? Stop by the North Charleston Fire Museum!
The North Charleston Fire Museum allows visitors to get up close to fire – without getting burned. It features exhibits, shows and collections about fire safety and the history of fire service. It is also home to the largest collection of professionally restored American LaFrance fire apparatus in the country.
To see hours or admission rates or to learn more, visit NorthCharlestonFireMusuem.org.
Sponsored by: North Charleston Fire Museum