Smoke Alarm Safety

What You Need to Know About Smoke Alarms and CO Alarms

With technology so ingrained in our lives, it’s probably no surprise that it’s also been used to advance so many safety products over the past decades. In my lifetime, I’ve seen countless new products developed that help protect my family every day – like security systems for the home and airbags in cars.

But how much do we really know about these products that help keep us safe day in and day out?

Take the smoke alarm, for example. Did you know that the residential smoke alarm wasn’t developed until almost 1970? BRK Electronics, First Alert’s parent company, designed and produced the first residential smoke detector in 1969.

Here are some more interesting facts that you might not know about your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms:

  • Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be installed high on the wall inside each sleeping area. CO alarms can be placed inside or outside the sleeping area at any height on the wall, though. That’s because CO spreads evenly throughout the air (it’s essentially the same weight).
  • Smoke alarms do save lives! According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke alarms have led to a nearly 50 percent decrease in fire-related deaths since their introduction in the 1970s. I recommend testing your alarms at least once per month to be sure they are functioning properly. Overlooking the task is a common mistake in smoke alarm maintenance.
  • Smoke and CO alarms have an expiration date. Since these devices are constantly working, they can’t last forever. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, and CO alarms should be replaced every five to seven years, depending on the model. In my home, we write the installation date on the back of the alarm with a permanent marker as a helpful reminder.
  • The first battery-operated smoke alarm was introduced by First Alert in 1976. If you have battery-operated smoke and CO alarms in your home today, be sure you replace the batteries every six months. A good habit is to do this every spring and fall when you change the clocks. (We spring forward on March 10 this year.)
  • People have nearly a 50 percent better chance of surviving a fire if their home has the recommended number of smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, and inside each sleeping area.

Guest blogger Debbie Hanson is director of external affairs for First Alert, a trusted brand in home safety products.

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