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Be Prepared: Smoke Detectors
Fires can spread very quickly, so every second is important. Smoke detectors can give you extra time to escape a fire by alerting you if there's a fire somewhere else in your home or apartment building, waking you up if a fire starts while you are asleep, or by detecting a fire before you are even able to see flames or smell smoke.
Most smoke alarms alert you by making a loud beeping or ringing noise. However, people with hearing impairments or visual impairments can purchase alarms that alert them with a strobe light or vibrating pad. If your smoke alarm goes off, you want to follow your home escape plan and get out of your house or apartment as quickly as possible. See Alternate Exits/Escape Plans for more information.
Smoke Detector Tips:
- Every home should have at least one working smoke detector.
If you rent, your landlord is required to have working smoke alarms in your apartment or house. If you own, you should make sure your apartment or home has several working fire alarms.
- Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are working.
There's no point in having a smoke alarm if it's not working. Checking your smoke alarm will also let you know what it sounds like when it goes off.
- Replace old batteries with brand new ones at least once a year.
Some alarms run on batteries, which can wear out, so you'll want to check them regularly. You may also want to purchase a smoke alarm that runs off of two power sources, in case one fails (for example, one that plugs into an electrical outlet and has a back-up battery.) Lithium-battery smoke alarms will last ten years without replacing the battery.
- Put smoke alarms in prominent areas.
Put smoke alarms near bedrooms (where your family will be able to hear when sleeping); in or near kitchens (although not right over the stove as steam from dishes may cause the alarm to go off); and in non-frequented places like the attic or basement. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one smoke detector on each level of your house or apartment.
- Keep smoke alarms clean from dust and clear of obstacles.
A smoke alarm needs to be able to detect the heat or smoke in a room. It will be less likely to do this and less sensitive to changes in the home if it is covered or dirty. Never place objects over or around your smoke alarms and dust them regularly by running a vacuum cleaner attachment over and around them.
Next: Be Prepared: Escape Plans