On the Pulse

Spring Forward by Changing Your Clocks and Checking Your Smoke Alarms

3.7.2024 | Heather Cooper

cartoon Dalmatian dog in a firefighter jacket and helmet pointing to a smoke detectorIt’s time to move clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 10. As you walk through your home to reset clocks, take another lap and test each smoke alarm using the test button. If your smoke alarms use standard batteries, be sure to change the batteries at least once each year. Choosing this day is an easy way to remember to do it annually. Note that some smoke alarms come with long-life, non-replaceable batteries.

Take inventory as you go throughout your home, making sure you have smoke alarms in each sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home. If you have a basement, remember to have one there, too. Maintaining alarms in each of these locations is important as you may have as little as 2 minutes to escape safely in the event of a home fire. Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent.

What sounds do smoke alarms make and what do they mean?

Alarms can beep or chirp. If an alarm makes 3 loud beeps – beep, beep, beep – it’s warning of smoke or fire.

If an alarm makes a single chirp sound every 30 or 60 seconds, it means the battery is low. Replace the battery if your alarm takes a standard battery. If chirping continues after you install a new battery, the alarm is at the end of its life and needs to be replaced right away.

When an alarm with a non-replaceable battery chirps, the alarm has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced right away.

If you take an alarm down or remove the battery due to chirping or a false alarm, be sure to replace the battery if needed and put the alarm back up right away. About 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

How often should I test my smoke alarms?

Make sure your alarms are in working order by pushing the test button once every month. Consider putting a reminder on your digital or paper calendar.

When do smoke alarms need to be replaced?

Replace all types of smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. Alarms are designed to be effective for up to 10 years. It’s best to use interconnected alarms because they will all sound if one sounds, giving your family more time to get to safety. There are special alarms and alert devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.