Earlier this month, a man was rescued from his home
in Anne Arundel County after a smoke alarm alerted him of danger, prompting him to contact 911. Later that day, fire investigators stated that the two-alarm blaze was a result of unattended cooking. This story highlights that there are many factors in ensuring the best home security, including proper maintenance of smoke alarms.
Installing the units
According to the U.S. Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency
, smoke alarms should be installed in every level of the home. Additionally, the organizations noted that a unit should be placed inside the bedroom as well, in case a fire starts while inhabitants are asleep. The groups also pointed out that it's important to put the alarms at the right level, since smoke and other gases rise. Proper height will provide residents with the earliest warning.
Maintaining the devices
Regardless of how your alarm is powered, it's important to test smoke alarms on a monthly basis
. The USFA and FEMA stated that devices powered by 9-volt batteries should have its power source replaced at least once annually. Ones with lithium batteries should be replaced entirely, since it's not possible to change out only the battery. Owners of lithium battery units should refer to the manufacturer's guide to see when the device needs to be replaced. Hardwired alarms have backup batteries in case central power fails. These batteries should be replaced once a year. Additionally, both 9-volt and hardwired units should be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
The groups stated that the batteries should never be removed from smoke alarms. If one goes off when there is no fire, it's advised for homeowners to push the "hush" button and open an window, fan the unit to clear the smoke or move the alarm away from the immediate area. It can be tempting to unplug a device entirely, but the organizations pointed out that doing so can have serious consequences.
A smoke alarm is the first line of defense against a potential fire. If one goes off, it's important to find the source of the problem. Be wise in analyzing the threat level and evacuate the home if necessary. Call 911 if the situation gets out of hand and maintain a good distance from the house. Proper maintenance and safe practices can help ensure home security as well as the safety of loved ones.