Being vigilant about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can save lives.
“Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!”
If the high-pitched cry of a dying battery in your smoke alarm grates on your nerves, you're not alone.
But don't make the grave mistake of shutting it off: Missing or disconnected batteries are the main reason smoke alarms fail to operate during fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Cold winter months are especially risky for residential fires, and tampering with safety equipment could put you and your family in serious trouble.
“The biggest thing that homeowners or renters or residents can do is make sure they have working smoke alarms and a working carbon monoxide alarm,” said Jim Narva, executive director of the National Association of State Fire Marshals. “We can do all kinds of things to prevent fires, but they will still happen. Having early notification is what saves lives.”
In general, homeowners should install smoke alarms outside of the kitchen, in the living room, in each bedroom and in the hallway outside of sleeping areas.
There should be at least one smoke alarm and one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of a home to be safe.
Smoke alarms should be checked once a month, and batteries should be changed every six months.
“Even if it's hardwired — a lot of them are wired electrically and they have a battery backup — you still want to check that,” Narva said. Alarms should be completely replaced every 10 years.
To address common consumer complaints, such as the annoying low-battery chirp, fire safety product manufacturer Kidde recently released a line of “worry-free” smoke alarms.
“They're powered by a 10-year, sealed-in lithium battery for 24/7 fire safety protection,” said Kristen Crabtree, public relations specialist at Kidde. “It also eliminates the hassles of low battery chirp and battery replacement.” The alarms are location-based, so consumers can easily identify which one to place in a bedroom or kitchen.
“On average, families have less than three minutes to escape after the first alarm sounds. The sooner you hear the alarm, the more time you'll have to escape.”