- If smoke alarms are not already in place, install them outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home in accordance with local codes. Smoke alarms cut your chances of dying in a home fire nearly in half. Smoke alarms sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air. They can detect both smoldering and flaming fires. The National Fire Alarm Code(r) (NFPA 72) now requires hard- wired smoke alarms in new homes.
- If people sleep with doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas too. If a fire occurs inside the room, dangerous gases can cause heavier sleep. Smoke alarms inside bedrooms will be more likely to wake you.
- Vacuum cobwebs and dust from your smoke alarms monthly. Smoke alarms are less sensitive when they are dirty. Keep them operating most efficiently.
- Use the test button to test your smoke alarms once a month. The test feature tests all electronic functions and is safer than testing with a controlled fire (matches, lighters, cigarettes). If necessary, replace batteries immediately. Make sure children know what your smoke alarm sounds like.
- If you have battery-powered smoke alarms, replace batteries at least once a year. Some agencies recommend you replace batteries when the time changes from standard daylight savings each spring and again in the fall. "Change your clock, change your batteries," is a positive theme and has become a common phrase. While replacing batteries this often certainly will not hurt, available data show that batteries will last at least a year, so more frequent replacement is not necessary. Also, time does not change in Arizona, Hawaii, the eastern portion of Indiana, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam.
- Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time. This is a joint recommendation by the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.