Smoke alarms save lives but only if they are they are properly installed and maintained. The following tips will help to ensure that your smoke alarms are functioning at peak performance:
- At least one smoke alarm should be installed on every floor in your home; therefore, a home with three levels requires three smoke alarms
- Due to an abundance of electrically powered equipment such as televisions and computers, the BC Building Code specifies that smoke alarms should now also be located inside sleeping rooms
- Replace your alarm every 5–10 years. Look for a label on each alarm indicating the expiration date and if you don’t know how old your alarm is, replace it immediately
TYPES OF SMOKE ALARMS
When buying a new smoke alarm, look for a dual mode that detects both flames and smoke. Ionization alarms detect flames and photo-electric fire alarms (a newer type) detect slow smouldering fires. A fire alarm that detects both provides the best protection. Hardware stores, home improvement stores, many grocery stores and pharmacies carry good quality smoke alarms or you can have them installed by a professional.
Consider having an interconnected system in your home. If one alarm is triggered it will sound all other alarms in the home. This can be either hardwired into your electrical system or wireless. When hardwired, it is recommended that you have units with individual battery back up to ensure your alarm will still function even during a power outage or electrical problem.
Smoke alarms will chirp when it is time to replace the battery. Here are things you should know:
When a hard-wired 110-volt smoke alarms chirps, it may require a battery replacement or it could mean the unit is at its end of life. If your unit has a backup battery, replace it. If it continues to chirp you will need to replace the entire alarm
- If your smoke alarm is wired-in to the house’s power it may also have a backup battery that will need to be replaced
- Lithium battery smoke alarms provide up to ten years of maintenance-free service because the batteries last the life of the alarm
Whether or not the battery still works, it is recommended that you change your smoke alarm battery at least once per year and perform a little annual maintenance—use a soft brush to clean off dust particles that could compromise your alarm’s detecting ability.
A good way to remember when to change your battery is this: "change your clocks – change your batteries." This slogan is used by the fire service nationally to provide an easy reminder to change the alarm battery each time you adjust your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
RECYCLE OLD SMOKE ALARMS
Used or expired smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can be recycled. When disposing of old smoke alarms, take out the battery and recycle it separately.
BC residents can drop off their devices and batteries for recycling at many locations.
Here in West Vancouver, London Drugs in Park Royal is a collection site for old smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
Learn more about alarm and battery recycling and find a collection site near you: