Identifying & Testing Fire Alarms – Part 1

Smoke detectors and fire alarms may be some of the most important items in your home when it comes to your family’s safety. These early warning devices may help alert your family to fire and dangerous smoke while there is still time to evacuate, but they need to be periodically tested to help ensure proper function.

Why Do It?
Electronic devices are not infallible. Batteries die, and other parts of the smoke detector can wear out over time. Testing them regularly and replacing batteries (or the entire device) is one way to help ensure your family stays safe should there be a fire in your home.

How Often?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good way to help remember to do this is to change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time — when you spring forward or fall back. Make sure to review your smoke detector’s user manual — you may need to check more often if any of the following apply:

  • The detector often gives false alarms.
  • The alarm emits short beeps regularly without anyone touching it.
  • Frequent kitchen smoke has caused it to activate often, which may wear it out faster.

There are two main types of smoke detectors, according to the USFA:

Battery-powered:  This type can be susceptible to defective or worn-out batteries. Monthly testing is critical. Never put old batteries into your smoke detectors and fire alarms.

Hardwired:  These detectors are powered by your home electrical system, but they usually have back-up batteries so the device can remain operational in a power outage. Hardwired smoke detectors still require monthly testing to help ensure that both batteries and parts are functioning properly.

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