Fire Prevention Week is October 9 – 15 and this year's theme is "Don't Wait! Check The Date – Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years." During this time, it's the perfect reminder for families to check their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and go through their emergency plans.
This year's theme addresses one of the biggest consumer unknowns — that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms don't last forever. Some homeowners, especially those with hardwired smoke or combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, believe they never need to be replaced. This is a potentially very dangerous oversight.
"Smoke alarms double your family's chance of a safe escape, but to provide that critical early warning, they need to be installed in the correct locations and be in proper working order," says Carol Heller, a home safety specialist with smoke and carbon monoxide alarm manufacturer, Kidde Canada. Heller points out that even if an alarm sounds when you push its "test" button, this only means the circuits are working and power is getting to the unit. It doesn't mean the alarm's sensors are operating at optimal sensitivity.
After being exposed to years of dust, cooking grime, pet fur, and other airborne contaminants, an alarm's sensors may be affected, possibly slowing the alarm's reaction time. That's why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that if your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old or you can't remember its age, replace it immediately. This goes for both hardwired and battery powered alarms. For CO alarms, replace any made prior to 2009.
Latest-generation technology can help with remembering to replace alarms and eliminating another common annoyance — having to replace the batteries. Current "Worry-Free" alarms have a sealed 10- year lithium battery that never needs replacing for the life of the alarm. Further tips and free educational downloads for families are available at safeathome.ca/checkthedate.
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