Don't get burned by a faulty smoke alarm

If you’re like us, there are a few things you do every time the New Year rolls around: vow to eat only one bowl of ice cream (per day, obviously) while binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, hang up the 2016 edition of your “Cow Yoga” illustrated wall calendar and change the batteries in the smoke alarms in your home.

Smoke alarms should have their batteries changed out with a new set of non-rechargeable ones once each year in order to continue to be your first line of defence in case of fire. A properly working smoke alarm should detect smoke particles in the air, alerting you to a fire and giving you and your loved ones a chance to get out of the house.

In addition to changing the batteries once a year, here are some helpful tips to keep you from being burned by a faulty alarm.

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling — because hot air rises – and in a central location where it would be most effective, even if it messes with the retro chic look of the room. One should be installed on every floor of a house, including the basement. Smoke detectors should be installed outside each bedroom or sleeping area.
  • Avoid placing smoke alarms too close to furnaces, kitchens and bathrooms where a steamy shower or some water on the stove could set it off. You’ve all read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” a smoke alarm that sounds too often could be ignored when it goes off in the case of a real fire.
  • Test your smoke alarm monthly. Use a candle or incense to introduce smoke to the alarm until it sounds. Don’t turn the temperature up on that lovely pot roast in the oven to test this one out. There are safer ways to do it, and that would ruin a perfectly delicious pot roast.
  • If your alarm doesn’t sound, replace the battery and try again. If it’s still not going off, check the fuse. If you can’t get your alarm to go off, replace the unit. A dead alarm is worse than no alarm at all.
  • When you’re doing your smoke alarm maintenance, clean the detection chamber and cover with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum. Smoke alarms can stop working if they become clogged with dust and dirt.
  • If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace it. Smoke alarms can be purchased from any local hardware store and tend to cost between $15 and $40, depending on what kind you get and whether it has extra features such as a strobe light, dual sensors or a built-in carbon monoxide detector.

Since 1962, AMA has been providing reliable auto insurance to Albertans. We are proud of our strong Alberta roots and our history of protecting what matters most to you.