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How to Replace Your Fire Alarm

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Learn how and when to replace smoke alarms

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently conducted a survey which found that most people don’t know the age of their smoke alarms, or how often they should be replaced.

The NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires that smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years, but according to an NFPA report, 20% of smoke alarms do not work.

Home fire death statistics are unsettling:

  • 38% are on properties without smoke alarms
  • 21% have no working smoke alarms

“People tend to assume that simply having smoke alarms in their home ensures adequate protection from fires,” says a NFPA spokesman. “But it takes regular testing and maintenance to ensure that that’s the case.”

How to check your smoke alarm

  • Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions for maintenance and testing. Most list instructions on the back of the alarm.  If not, they can be found on the internet.
  • At least once a month, test the alarm by pushing the test button and waiting for the loud chirp.
  • Teach your family what the smoke alarm sounds like and how to respond.

10 Year batteries

  • The smoke alarm’s age can be determined by looking for the date of manufacture on the side or back of the alarm. Replace the units 10 years from that date.
  • Smoke alarms with 10-year batteries remain effective for up to 10 years, accoring to NFPA. If the alarm makes a chirping noise, it is warning that the battery is low. You will need to replace the entire alarm.

Regular Batteries

  • Many smoke detectors need batteries replaced at least every year. If the alarm chirps, it is warning that the battery needs to be replaced.
  • When replacing the battery, follow the manufacturer’s instructions (brand and model). Otherwise the lifesaving device may not work properly when you need it.