Here's a question: when can a $2.00 battery make the difference between life and death for you and your family? Here's the answer: when that battery powers your home's smoke detector. This is especially true during the winter, which is when most house fires occur according to the Red Cross. So right now is the best possible time to make sure your detectors are in good working order - or to install them, if your home lacks this essential protection. Anything less could lead to tragedy. Let's shed a little light on this topic and see what we can learn.
Some Alarming Statistics
House fires receive only a fraction of the media attention paid to disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. That's unfortunate when you consider these troubling facts:
● More than 90% of the 70,000+ calamities to which the Red Cross responds each year are fire-related.
● The financial loss caused by house fires averages more than $17,000.00.
● The most likely victims of a residential blaze are seniors and children, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fire is an insidious foe that preys on society's most vulnerable members.
● 74% of fatal fires occur in homes with no working smoke detectors. This leads to our next subject.
Smoke Alarms are Cheap, Effective Insurance
Basic detectors cost around $15.00, putting them within the financial means of almost any US household. Advanced models offer premium features like unit-to-unit communication and ease of testing. But even the most affordable units are better than nothing at all. So invest in these affordable, effective products today, before your home goes up in smoke.
How Often to Check Your Smoke Detectors
You should test your detectors once a month. You'll find instructions for doing so in the owner's manual, which you should keep with your other important papers. In most cases, the test involves pressing a button on the unit for a few seconds. It will sound an alarm indicating the unit is in good working order, after which you can end the test. You should change out the batteries whenever it's time to move your clocks forward or back in spring and fall, unless the directions say otherwise.
Some smoke detectors make a special chirping or buzzing sound when the battery weakens. Replace the cell as soon as possible with a fresh alkaline unit if you hear this noise.
Know What to Do, Just In Case the Worst Occurs
Your family should have a plan for exiting your home if a fire breaks out. Make sure each member of your household knows the procedure. Practice evacuating your residence from time to time.
Checking your smoke detectors is but one step you should take to protect your possessions and your family during fall of the year. Here are some added steps to perform while you're focused on prepping for winter:
● Check your carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries with fresh cells.
● Make sure your pipes are insulated to prevent freezing and bursting.
● Inspect your chimney for signs of wear or damage.You should have a pro clean your chimney at least once each two years, more often if it sees frequent use.
● Check your driveway and walkways for cracks that could become trip hazards in freezing weather. Fill these gaps with polyurethane compounds meant for this purpose.
Summer is behind us and winter is almost here. Get ready for it now by checking your smoke detectors and taking the other measures outlined in this post. You'll thank yourself for your diligence down the road, when you look back on the season with fond memories and not lasting regrets.
Certified Home Inspector.