Smoke alarms save lives. However, for smoke alarms to do their important work, they have to be installed and working properly. The statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association show why you must be sure that your smoke alarms are in good working order:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.
  • 38 percent of home fire deaths occur in homes that don’t have any smoke alarms.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when working smoke alarms are installed.

You can make sure you and your family are protected from the risk of a home fire by checking your smoke alarm properly and regularly.

When to test your smoke alarm

The U.S. Fire Administration advises that smoke alarms should be checked at least once per month. Batteries should be replaced at least twice per year. The usual recommendation is to change batteries when you switch back and forth from daylight savings time as a reminder. Your smoke detector may warrant a check if it begins to chirp, if it starts setting off false alarms, or if it has been set off frequently by cooking or other types of smoke.

How to test your smoke alarm

Get the help of another person. Have them stand at a point in your home farthest away from the smoke detector. You will want to make sure they can hear the alarm during testing. Press and hold the test button on the smoke alarm and wait for the alarm to start. The sound emitted by the alarm should be piercing. In addition, the person you’ve stationed at the other end of your home should be able to hear it clearly. So, what if the alarm doesn’t go off, seems muffled, or isn’t able to be heard from the other side of your home? Simply replace the battery and retest the alarm. You can also dust the unit to make sure that debris isn’t blocking the sound of the alarm.

When to replace your smoke alarm

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing smoke alarms, regardless of their function, at least once every 10 years. Obviously, you will want to replace your smoke alarms immediately if they stop working, or aren’t loud enough to alert people throughout your home.

Other alarm safety tips

In addition to regularly testing your smoke alarms, you also should examine the placement of the smoke alarms in your home. There should be at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home. There should be a smoke alarm outside of any sleeping areas, as well as within each bedroom. Additionally, you should be sure that your home is protected by carbon monoxide detectors as well. Just like their smoke-detecting counterparts, carbon monoxide detectors can alert your family to a hazard and help them escape your home safely.

Working smoke detectors are crucial to your family’s safety. Make sure you are regularly checking your smoke alarms and replacing batteries. Most importantly, be sure that every member of your family, especially small children, know what the smoke alarm sounds like and what they should do if they hear it!