Do you remember, back in the day when you were anxiously awaiting your closing date on your then-new home, having your insurance agent ask you if the house had operational smoke detectors and fire alarms? Well, there’s a reason that these devices influence your insurance rates: they protect your home — and, even more importantly, your family — from cataclysmic destruction. The statistics are startling and certainly support the concept that smoke detectors are life-saving devices: “The risk of dying in reported home structure fires is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.” Did you catch an important word in that statement, though? Only smoke detectors that are actually working properly help prevent fire-related deaths.
Prevention of Device Failure
Smoke detectors, like any electronic devices, are subject to failure. Sometimes smoke detectors fail to alert people of a fire, because their batteries did not work properly; other times, failure is due to a problematic device. The best way to guard against such failure is to check and replace batteries and test your home’s devices frequently.
To safeguard against device failure, the USFA (U.S. Fire Administration) recommends that smoke detectors be tested on a monthly basis and batteries be replaced biannually. Many recommend making it a habit to replace smoke detector batteries each spring and autumn, whenever you change clocks to reflect daylight savings time. If you find that kind of association or trigger helpful, perhaps you can associate testing your alarms with turning the page on your calendar.
In addition to those preventive steps, note that your smoke detector may need to be serviced if it gives false alarms or emits short beeps, unprovoked, on a regular basis. You should also be aware that if you set off the alarm frequently with smoke from kitchen, ahem, experiments, your device and its batteries will wear out more quickly.
Categories of Smoke Detectors
When it comes to smoke detectors, there are two basic types of devices: battery-powered smoke detectors and hardwired smoke detectors. The former type is definitely most common; however, battery-powered devices have the negative potential of battery failure, making monthly testing especially important. Also note that you never want to put used batteries into your smoke detector or fire alarm; it’s not worth the risk.
Hardwired smoke detectors are connected to your home’s electricity. Typically, they also have backup batteries, in case of a power outage. Be sure to test these devices on a monthly basis, too, to make sure they’re functioning properly. And even though the batteries are only for backup purposes, you’d still do well to replace them each year.
In Part 2, we’ll take a look at some more safeguards as well as walk you through how to test your smoke detector.
The Nicholas Insurance Agency, led by Greg Nicholas, is a family owned business serving the York county, Pennsylvania region. Offering exclusively Allstate insurance products, the Nicholas Agency provides auto, homeowners, rental and landlord insurance as well as life & disability, recreational vehicle, motorcycle and personal liability insurance. For more information, visit our two York, PA locations at Westgate Plaza or York Marketplace or call us at (717) 764-2024.