Smoke alarms provide an early warning of fire. They can alert you to danger right away, enabling you the extra time needed to evacuate safely. That is why it is important to periodically test them to ensure they are working correctly.
Why check smoke alarms?
Testing smoke alarms regularly and replacing batteries or the entire device helps ensure your building and occupants will stay safe if a fire occurs. Batteries die, and other parts of the smoke alarm can wear out over time.
How often should they be tested?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced once or twice a year. An easy way to remember to do this is to change your smoke alarm’s batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Make sure to review your smoke alarm’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.
How do you test it?
It only takes a few minutes to test a smoke alarm each month. You should check the manufacturer’s requirements, but you can usually test them following these instructions:
- Inspect the smoke alarm visually to ensure there is not any damage and that dust and debris are not blocking the air entry points.
- Hold and press the button on the smoke alarm, which should release a loud siren. If you do not hear the alarm, or the alarm sound is quiet, you may need to replace the batteries. If the alarm still does not work, replace the entire unit.
- It may be a good idea to ask someone to walk around the building while you are testing the alarm to ensure that it can be heard from every point in the property. The same technique can apply to homes.
- Make sure that the smoke alarm is working by presenting it with actual smoke. Though the button can test whether the batteries are working, placing 2 or 3 lighted matches underneath the unit can determine whether it is performing its primary function.
Smoke alarms have a normal life span of 10 years and should be replaced even if it is working correctly. Call Fire Control Systems for all your smoke alarm needs.