Spring forward and check your smoke alarms

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 9:24 a.m.

With the upcoming time change, it is 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. When springing forward one hour, it is a good time to also check the age and condition of your smoke alarms.

Residents should know the power source their smoke alarms use. Smoke alarms purchased in the last few years may have a lifetime lithium battery which is good for the lifetime of the smoke alarm, up to ten years. If your smoke alarm is battery powered, 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 alarm 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 alarms:

  • 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.