When Smoke Detectors Fail: How to Keep Yours Up to Date

(TFC) – You’re cooking a feast, when, suddenly, smoke begins billowing from the oven. You scream, realizing you’ve let the casserole cook for too long, and throw open the oven door to extinguish the flames. Though the situation is over as quickly as it began, one thing that doesn’t happen is your smoke detector going off, even though it’s located right in the next room. If this had been a true emergency, this failed smoke detector could have had far more serious consequences.

On a Schedule

Smoke detectors save lives and buy you time, plain and simple. Fortunately, they rarely need to be used, but it is critical that they work properly in case they are ever needed. Proper upkeep of your smoke detectors is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing your smoke detectors at least once a month and replacing the batteries at least twice a year.

An easy way to remember to test your smoke detectors is to set up a reminder on your smartphone to go off on the first of every month. A good rule of thumb for changing the batteries is to do it whenever you change your clocks from daylight time to standard time, and vice versa. Obviously, if your detector is hard-wired, you don’t need to worry about replacing the batteries, but you definitely still need to test the detector at least once a month to ensure the detector is working properly, and all wiring is still functional.

Time for a Change

Since smoke detectors are usually out of reach, they are often forgotten about. With your monthly reminder to test them, ensuring they are working properly is much easier. However, even if they pass the self-check, all smoke detectors need to be replaced at least every ten years. Over time, the sensors which detect the smoke can deteriorate and become less sensitive. This means that even with the proper power, they may not alarm with enough accuracy to alert you in time to avoid an emergency.

Smoke detectors will have an expiration date somewhere on them to remind you not to overlook this replacement. If you don’t know how long you have had your smoke detectors, now is a good time to figure out so you can replace them. If the expiration date is far in the future and you are worried you will forget, simply find the expiration date and check it every time you test the detector to remind yourself how soon the detector will need to be replaced.

House fires happen from time to time, unfortunately. When they do happen, though, you can give your family the best chance at getting out quickly and safely by ensuring your smoke detector is up-to-date and working properly. It’s easy to do and worth every second spent.