How to protect your family with smoke detectors

Smoke Detectors

Although your smoke detectors may not always be top of mind, they are an important part of any home. It’s also very important that you maintain them properly and on schedule to ensure your home is protected.

The National Fire Protection Association has some eye-opening statistics that truly display how vital smoke detectors are. Check these out:

  • Between 2012-2016, 53% of fires in homes reported to fire departments had smoke detectors sound an alarm.
  • 40% of fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarm, and 17% occurred in homes with a non-functioning smoke alarms.
  • For every 1,000 reported home fires, a person was twice as likely to be killed in a fire if they did not have working smoke detectors (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires) compared to homes with working detectors (5.7 deaths per 1,000 fires).
  • Investigators found that 43% of the fires where smoke detectors were present but did not go off, were either missing the battery or did not have a battery connected. 
  • Investigators found dead batteries had caused 25% of the smoke alarm failures.

If that’s not enough reason to keep your smoke detectors running properly, perhaps this will: Did you know most fire deaths are not caused by burns but by smoke inhalation? The NFPA notes that homes burn more quickly today because modern homes are built with more open space and unprotected wood construction. In fact, some experts believe you have only about 2 minutes after the smoke alarm sounds to get out of the house without being harmed.

Testing, cleaning and replacing

The NFPA recommends you test all the smoke detectors in your home every month. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your individual smoke detectors, but it’s usually as easy as pressing a button until you hear a loud beep. If you find one that is not working, replace the battery to see if that helps. The NFPA says to make sure you use the battery recommended by the detector’s manufacturer. If it fails the test after putting a new battery in it, you may need to replace the detector.

Not only should you test your smoke detectors monthly, but the NFPA says you should also clean them every 6 months. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean them. Typically, using the soft brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner and gently vacuuming the vents of the detector should do it. 

The NFPA says you should replace your smoke detectors every 10 years. This is because the sensors in smoke detectors degrade over time and do not function as well. On the back or the side of your smoke detectors should be a date of manufacture. Replace the detector if it is 10 years from the date on the detector—not 10 years from purchase or installation. 

Remember, your smoke detectors play an important role in keeping your family and your home safe. Take the time to make sure they’re in working order, so you can keep your family protected. For more tips on keeping you and your families safe, visit: https://www.bannerhealth.com/staying-well/safety

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