Fall marks the end of Daylight Saving Time. And as you set those clocks back, I’d like to remind you of another project you should make a habit of at this time of year: smoke alarms. After all, batteries don’t last forever, and it’s the perfect opportunity to swap them out for some new ones.
This year, our family took it one step further and replaced a number of the smoke detectors in our home. One in particular had become quite a nuisance, going off any time someone burnt the toast — or turned on the oven, at that.
Resisting the urge to just pop out the batteries, we bought a new one, and then went from room to room to do the same for those we’d yet to replace after buying the home. I mean, why leave your home and family at risk?
In fact, more than 56 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke detectors, and 38 percent result from fires in homes without smoke alarms at all.
Besides changing out the batteries every six months, there are a number of other “best practices” for installing and maintaining smoke alarms. Here’s what you should do to make sure your home is sufficiently protected:
- Install smoke detectors in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. Make sure you install basement smoke detectors on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs.
- For any level without bedrooms, install smoke detectors in the living room or near the stairs to the upper level. Make sure to install smoke detectors at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when preparing food.
- Install smoke detectors high on the walls — no more than 12 inches away from the ceiling. If your ceiling is pitched, install the detector within 3 feet of the peak and at least four inches away from the apex.
- Avoid installing smoke detectors near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with operation.
- Change out smoke detectors every 10 years. Do the same for your carbon monoxide detectors. Our family notes the purchase date on the back of each detector, and then we check the date each time we replace the batteries.
- Check smoke detectors every month to make sure they remain operational. Set a recurring “appointment” on your calendar as a reminder. Or, consider doing it on the first of every month.
Smoke detectors are not thought of often but really need to be. They are a key feature in the safety of your home, so make sure you don’t take that for granted.