So, did everybody change their battery when they changed their clock?
Every year, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) launches a campaign to get people to install and inspect their smoke alarms. More than 3000 Americans die in home fires each year, most of which are in homes without working smoke alarms. Research has proven that the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82% in homes equipped with working smoke alarms and automatic sprinklers. A working smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There are two basic types of smoke alarms: Ionization and Photoelectric. Ionization alarms respond more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs, such as a portable heater catching the curtains on fire. A Photoelectric alarm responds more quickly to a slower, smoky fire, such as an electrical fire that starts within your walls. A dual sensor smoke alarm combines the two types, photoelectric and ionization.
Because there is no way of telling what type of fire may occur in your home, it is strongly recommended by the USFA to have both an ionization smoke alarm and photoelectric alarm or a dual sensor smoke alarm to detect both types of fires. There are also smoke alarms for the hearing impaired. These alarms either vibrate or have a strobe light to warn people of a possible fire.
You should install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement, if you have one. There should be one in every bedroom. I know several people who have removed the batteries from their smoke alarms because they went off while they were cooking or taking a very steamy shower. A better option is to open the door and press the “hush” button on the alarm. Waving a towel at the alarm to clear the air can help. If it continues to be a problem, consider moving the alarm further from the stove or bathroom.
Ideally, you should test your smoke alarm every month. Make it part of your fire safety ritual—check the alarm and practice your fire escape drill at the same time. If your smoke alarm has a 9 volt battery, replace it at least once a year—like the old public service announcements used to say, “when you change your clock for daylight savings time, change the battery in your smoke alarm.” If your smoke alarm has a lithium battery, the entire smoke alarm should be replaced according to manufacturer’s instructions. In newer homes, smoke alarms are required to be hardwired into your electrical system. Even these smoke alarms have batteries that need to be changed on a yearly basis.
You should replace your entire smoke alarm every 810 years.