If you’ve ever forgotten to change a smoke detector battery, this tip will be life-changing, and possibly lifesaving.
A working smoke detector cuts your risk of dying in a house fire in half. Most homeowners know you should change a smoke detector battery twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. But what if I told you that you didn’t have to change a smoke detector battery ever again?
I didn’t believe it either, until a firefighter told me how I could skip changing out the batteries while still keeping my family safe.
I should start with the back story.
We have a vaulted ceiling in our guest bedroom. The smoke detector is mounted near the ceiling, as it should be for safety and maximum effectiveness. But that makes it out of reach of our ladders and a huge chore to change the smoke detector battery.
We had an electrician hang a chandelier in the guest bedroom in December. While the electrician was up on the ladder, I had him replace the smoke detector battery backup since ours is hardwired into our home’s electrical wiring. He used a a brand new, long-life 9-volt battery.
And all was well…
Until a few weeks ago when we heard a chirping at 2 a.m. signaling that one of the multiple smoke detectors we have in our house needed a new battery. After stumbling around in the dark — because these things never happen when you’re awake — we figured out the chirping was coming from the guest bedroom. My husband managed to hit the reset button with a broom, so we were able to go back to sleep.
But then it started up again the next day.
So, I called the fire department.
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Here’s something else you may not know: Your local fire department will probably come out to your house to inspect your smoke detectors.
Some will even change the batteries or replace faulty smoke detectors for you, at no additional charge. Just call the NON-EMERGENCY number for your fire department and see if they’ll come.
Ours rolled into the neighborhood in their ladder truck and with three firefighters on board.
My son and his neighborhood pals had fun checking out the truck.
Once they hauled a huge ladder upstairs, the firefighters discovered that the battery door on our smoke detector wasn’t completely closed. That’s why it was chirping.
They offered to change out the battery, just to be safe. But one of the firefighters recommended we switch out the old smoke detector to ensure our family’s fire safety.
And here’s the kicker — with these new models, you don’t have to change the batteries ever!
The EPA recommends you change out the smoke detectors in your home every 10 years. So, in my opinion, there’s no reason not to switch to one of the extended battery-life models, especially those mounted in hard-to-reach places.
Our local fire department gave us this 2-in-1 Smoke & Fire Alarm from US Electric for our guest bedroom. Our plan is to replace the rest of the smoke detectors in the house with this same type of alarm.
Our local firefighters DO NOT RECOMMEND the 3-in-1 models that include a carbon monoxide detector. Instead, they recommend a separate carbon monoxide detector, since the gas tends to disperse through the air.
If you have gas heat, gas logs or gas appliances in your home, you need carbon monoxide detectors in your home to protect your family from this deadline gas. Use them in bedrooms, family gathering areas like the living room and in areas where you have gas appliances.
You can buy carbon monoxide detectors that can be hardwired into your home’s electrical system or that plug into outlets. Like smoke detectors, these should be dusted and tested monthly, and you should change any backup batteries twice a year. Carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five to seven years.
Please don’t take risks with your family’s safety. Replace those smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors and their batteries as recommended.
Here are some other helpful tips I want to pass along from our local fire department:
- Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. Also, install alarms in living room, dens and family rooms, at the top of stairways and at the bottom of stairways leading to a basement.
- Test smoke alarms every month.
- Change batteries in smoke alarms twice a year, unless you have an enclosed system with a 10-year battery.
- Replace smoke detectors and alarms every 10 years.
- Your local fire department may offer free inspection, testing and battery changes. Just call their non-emergency number to inquire.
- You may be able to get a FREE smoke detector and installation form your local fire department.
- Dust and test carbon monoxide detectors monthly.
- Change batteries in carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.
- Replace carbon monoxide detectors every five to seven years, based on the manufacturer’s recommendation
- Some local fire stations may also offer free carbon monoxide detectors
I should note that I am not a fire safety professional, and you should do you own research and speak with firefighters in your area before following any advice in this post. I just wanted to share our family’s experience. Most importantly, I wanted to remind you that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors aren’t things you can buy once and expect to last a lifetime. They need maintenance and should be replaced regularly to keep your family safe.