Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

Be Smart and Safe: Fire Prevention Week 2016

 October 9-16 is Fire Prevention Week: “Don’t WaitCheck the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”

Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.

A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.[1]

That’s why the theme for this Fire Prevention Week 2016 is “Don’t Wait—Check the Date.” The goal of the campaign is to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old. 

To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). This does not supplant the need for regular equipment checks, and smoke alarms should still be tested monthly. Batteries should always be replaced once a year, or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.

Be Safe and Smart: Additional Tips

In the U.S., on average, seven people die every day from house fires. In 2014 alone, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 367,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,745 deaths, 11,825 civilian injuries, and $6.8 billion in direct damage.[2]

In many cases, this damage could have been mitigated—or prevented all together. A fire at home can start for many reasons—candles, cooking, electrical issues, heating, and smoking materials—to name a few. Because the causes are myriad, practicing fire prevention can keep you and your family safe. Fire Prevention Week 2016 (FPW 2016) is the perfect time to brush up on prevention tactics and prepare your family in case disaster strikes. Here are a few additional tips to consider during this very important home safety week—and all year long.

Fire Safety and Prevention Tips:

Prevent a fire in your home, and keep you and your family safe if one happens to occur, by following proper fire safety and prevention practices. 

  1. First and foremost, install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home – including the basement. Three out of five home fire fatalities happen in homes with no or non-working smoke alarms.
  2. Next, identify potential fire hazards. Do you have frayed or exposed electrical wires? Are space heaters located near curtains or other flammable materials? Fix what you can and know where other potential dangers lie.
  3. Install fire safety windows and doors. If that is not an option, use fire retardant products to fire proof windows and doors. This slows down the fire and helps prevent it from spreading.
  4. Plan and practice an escape route. Determine at least two ways to escape from your home and select a location outside for everyone to meet. Also, plan what to do with family pets and know who to call for emergency assistance.
  5. Many children are not aware of potential fire hazards. Check out these fire prevention tips for kids to ensure proper fire safety and prevention is practiced by the entire family.

For more information on fire safety,  smoke alarms, and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”, visit


[1] A portion of this information is reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week website, © 2016 NFPA.


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