Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one.
But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.
A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for the City of Houston Fire Department and NFPA, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.
“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” said City of Houston Fire Chief Joey Moore. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Houston residents about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”
NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm Code) requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.
This year, National Fire Prevention Week is this week (Oct. 9-15). As the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, NFPA is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). Moore also recommends smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, log onto www.firepreventionweek.org.