Check your smoke alarms when you change the clocks

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Friday, March 9, 2018 at 3:28 p.m.

With the upcoming time change, the Spokane Fire Department (SFD) says it’s a great time to check your smoke alarms while changing your clocks.

In a fire, working smoke alarms in a home can mean the difference between life and death. “Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained provide an early warning signal which could allow everyone in the home to safely escape,” advises SFD Fire Marshal Mike Miller. “When we spring forward one hour, it is a good time to also check the age and condition of your smoke alarms.”

Residents should use batteries recommended by the manufacturer and make sure they are firmly connected to the smoke alarm contacts. Remember if a smoke alarm starts making “chirping” noises, it is a signal battery levels are low and need to be replaced. Dusting smoke detector surfaces and vacuuming the air vents regularly will keep dust and spider webs from fouling detection elements or causing false alarms. All smoke alarms should be tested monthly and new batteries should be installed at least once a year.

Checklist for your smoke alarm:

  • Have at least one alarm on every level of your home.
  • Have an alarm outside every sleeping area and inside every bedroom.
  • Check the back label on each alarm to know the date of manufacture. Make sure no alarm in your home is more than 10 years old.
  • Look for “ionization” or “photoelectric” or “photo-ion” on the back label of each alarm. Make sure you know the type of alarm you have!
  • Have at least one photoelectric alarm on each level of the home.
  • Check if your alarms have “hush buttons” so you don’t ever have to remove a battery to silence a nuisance alarm.
  • Check if your alarms have lithium batteries so you don’t have to replace the 9-volt batteries every year. Lithium batteries may last the life of the smoke alarm.
  • Test all of your alarms on the first day of every month to make sure they are still working!

Residents wanting more information on smoke alarms or fire safety can contact the SFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau at 509-625-7058. A variety of community education resources are also available to help meet the needs of both children and adults. Fire safety presentations can be arranged for neighborhood, business, civic, or education groups.