How to Test Your Home’s Smoke Detectors

When was the last time you changed your smoke detector batteries? It’s easy to forget about those little electronic devices but testing your smoke detectors regularly and is one way to keep you and your family safe should there be a fire in your home!

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms. It is recommended that smoke detectors be tested at least once a month and that batteries be replaced at least once or twice a year.  Want an easy way to remember? Make it a habit when you change your clocks for daylight saving time to also change your smoke detector batteries!

You should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper method of testing your smoke detector or fire alarm, but in general, the USFA recommends that most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors be tested in the following way:

Step 1. Smoke detectors have high-pitched alarms that could be frightening, so alert all family members before you begin testing the alarms.

Step 2. Station a family member at the furthest point away from the alarm in your home to see how well it can be heard. If it is low or muffled, you may want to consider installing extra detectors.

Step 3. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. It may take a few seconds to begin, but a loud siren should occur. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace the batteries immediately. If it has been over six months since you last replaced the batteries, it’s best to change them regardless of the test result.

Remember, smoke detectors have an average life span of 10 years. Even if you perform regular maintenance and your device is still functional, you should still replace the smoke detector to ensure that it will work in case of a fire. Installing smoke detectors can be a great way to help keep your family safe, but assuming they are working may lead to a dangerous situation.