It is that time once again -- to “fall back” -- turning back our clocks to regain that hour we lost in the spring. As we end Daylight Savings Time and return to standard time, it's the perfect time to change our smoke alarm batteries. We are all about safety here at the Sparks Insurance Agency, so we urge you to get into the habit of changing smoke alarm batteries either at the end or the beginning of Daylight Savings Time to keep your family safe and to avoid homeowners insurance claims by protecting your home from fire and smoke damage.
The value of a reliable smoke alarms in our homes is indisputable. However, having a smoke alarm isn't enough. A good fire safety plan requires that the smoke alarms actually are reliably working. Adopting the habit of doing a quick check of your smoke alarms each month will ensure that they are working properly, and changing the batteries at least once a year will ensure that their batteries remain fresh and strong.
If Neglected, Smoke Alarms Might Stop Working
Smoke alarms can stop working for several reasons. Sometimes it is because they have outlived their usefulness, especially if they are more than 10 years old. More commonly, however, these alarms fail to do their job of alerting you to the danger of fire and smoke because their battery is dead or missing or because the smoke alarm has been disconnected. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warns that almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.
What if Your Smoke Alarm Fails to Remind You
Perhaps you are thinking you could just wait until the smoke alarm beeping alerts you that the batteries need to be replaced. That's a bad idea for many reasons such as…
- If you are not at home during time when the beeping alert begins until your smoke alarm batteries go totally dead, you might not be aware that they are not working. This leaves your family and your home unprotected against fire.
- If you don't have replacement smoke alarm batteries ready when the alert occurs, you might be tempted to stop the beeping by removing the batteries or disconnecting your smoke alarm. Of course, this increases your risk of not being alerted in case of a fire until you get your smoke alarm working again.
When Replacing Smoke Alarm Batteries...
- Avoid using rechargeable batteries in your smoke alarm. Smoke alarm manufacturers advise against them. Install the correct type of replacement battery -- the one recommended in the manual or label on your smoke alarm; and be sure to follow all directions.
- If your smoke alarm is giving you frequent nuisance alarms, then it’s time to replace the entire smoke alarm unit. Don’t be tempted to just disconnect the battery to stop the nuisance alarms.
- Almost all smoke alarms batteries should be replaced each year, including those in hard-wired smoke alarms with battery backup. This applies to all smoke alarms except those that are hard-wired and do not include a battery backup or smoke alarms that have a built-in 10-year battery that cannot be replaced. In the latter case, you would replace the complete smoke alarm every 10 years.
- Remember to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarm at the same time that you change your smoke alarm batteries.
- Take the opportunity to clean your smoke alarm at the time that you change the batteries each year.
- More About Home Smoke Alarms from the NFPA (Video)
- Smoke Alarms: Installation and Maintenance Tips
- Smoke Alarm Types: Ionization vs. Photoelectric