Did you know that the death rate is more than twice as high in homes without working smoke detectors, as with operational alarms? While 37% of deaths in home fires occur when no smoke detectors are present, 23% occur in homes with smoke detectors that failed to operate. Those statistics seem pretty motivating, don’t they?! So today we’re going to look at what might be the most important factor in your family’s safety and learn how to test the smoke detectors to ensure they’re actually functioning properly.
In Part 1, we took a look at the two different types of smoke detectors, as well as the typical means of failure. Today, we’ll look at one more potential pitfall as well as how to test your home’s devices.
Smoke Detector Nuisances
Sometimes, smoke detectors that are perfectly operational and have batteries that are perfectly operational still fail to sound in the case of a fire. Why?, you may be wondering. Usually because the batteries have been previously disconnected or removed. The typical reason for removal is that the smoke detector has begun to annoyingly “chirp,” usually indicating that battery life is low.
Many people consider that sound to be a nuisance, so they remove the batteries entirely, effectively rendering the device as pointless. If you hear that “chirping” sound, let it alert you to the fact that your smoke detector requires your attention. And don’t do anything to make it stop reminding you until you’ve actually taken the time to do what it’s asking you to do. Your family’s lives may depend on it.
Smoke Detector Testing
Hopefully by now, you are convinced that testing your smoke detectors is important, but that motivation is pointless if you don’t know how to test them! Start by reading the instruction manual for the specifics on testing your particular type of device. If that information is unavailable, though, the steps for most devices (both battery-powered ones and hardwired ones) are pretty much the same. First, make sure to communicate with others in your house that you will be testing your alarm, and make sure they know what to expect so they aren’t unnecessarily frightened. Then, position someone at the place in your home that’s furthest from the smoke detector. (If the alarm seems to them to sound low or muffled, you may want to install an added detector.)
Once you’ve communicated with other members of your household, simply press and hold the test button on your smoke detector. It will take a few seconds, but soon you will hear a loud, high-pitched siren that should continue to sound as long as the button remains pressed. If you don’t hear anything or hear a weak sound, be sure to replace your batteries. Then re-test, once you’ve replaced batteries. Alternatively, check the detector itself to make sure nothing is blocking its grates.
Most detectors have a maximum lifespan of a decade, so even with regular maintenance, plan to replace your units once a decade.
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.