December 2017
Mt. San Antonio from Rancho Cucamonga: photo by Amanda Walker
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Properly Maintained Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Don't wait for the beep. Get proactive about smoke alarm maintenance.

When you're asleep, it is on alert. When you're going about your daily routine at home, it is keeping watch. You may not notice it, but when it senses danger and sounds off, you won't be able to ignore it. Can you guess what it is? Why, a smoke alarm of course.

Smoke alarms are required in every home, townhome, condominium, and apartment, yet most of us overlook or neglect ours until they start chirping a low-battery warning. A quick monthly check and other routine maintenance can ensure these alarms are consistently working to provide the proper protection for you and your loved ones.

Protect Your Family - Despite what you might think, you can't smell smoke when you are asleep. A working smoke alarm provides the instant, audible warning you need to evacuate your home immediately. Local hardware stores and online retailers sell a variety of alarms, including devices designed with special alerts for the hearing impaired. There is an alarm available to provide safety for everyone in your family.

Maintenance is Key - Smoke alarms now include long-life batteries that last up to 10 years. Whether hard-wired into your home's electrical system or battery-operated, these devices usually have a sealed battery compartment that won't allow you to open and replace it. Each alarm comes with an expiration date that signifies when the sensing mechanism will begin to weaken. Be sure to note the date on your device and promptly replace expired units.

However, if you have an older smoke alarm, be sure to change the batteries twice a year to ensure the device's performance. An easy way to remember this chore is to schedule the battery change for when the time changes in the spring and fall. Use the "test button" on the outside of the devices to test your smoke alarms once a month and ensure they are fully operational.

Know What to Do When it Sounds - A solid plan is crucial to safely escaping a fire. Your family's escape plan should include two ways out of every bedroom (ex. a door and a window), as well as a designated outdoor family meeting location that is away from your home or building. Visit the Fire District website to download a template for drawing your family's Escape Plan. Once your plan is drawn, make sure to discuss different scenarios and practice your plan so that every family member gets used to reacting when your smoke alarm sounds.

In the event of a fire in your home, get outside and stay outside. Close doors behind you to slow the travel of smoke, which will minimize the spread of fire and resulting damage. Once safely outside, call 911 and give detailed information the dispatcher can relay to first responders. You can find more safety tips on the Fire District's website at www.RCFire.org.