It used to be easy for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to remind citizens to change the batteries in their smoke detectors. For years, “Change the batteries when you change your clock!” has been the agency’s biannual slogan on daylight savings time. The only problem? Nobody has to change their clocks anymore.
The CPSC is now getting creative in its attempt to promote fire safety, tweeting images of smoke detectors as UFOs, if UFOs still relied on lithium batteries.
Despite no other smart device or home appliance needing such manual care, regularly changing the batteries in smoke detectors is still important. According to the CPSC, there more than 360,000 homes fires each year.
The Red Cross also has a home fire campaign to promote better monitoring. By their estimates, seven people die each day from home fires across the country, mostly impacting children and the elderly.
Batteries should be replaced at least once a year, and if the smoke detector is over ten years old, it’s time to invest in a new device. According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) even the seemingly functional smoke detectors should be replaced every decade. Standard smoke alarm tests only confirm that the battery and buzzer still work. It doesn’t necessarily confirm that the sensors are still working.
The CPSC doesn’t want you to forget about carbon monoxide alarms, either. That invisible, odorless gas can kill within minutes and yet, only 42 percent of household report having a CO alarm, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These should be installed on every level of the home and outside of sleeping areas.
The agency recommends installing both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms. While the former can detect slow-building, smoldering fires, alarms that use the ionization process are more responsive to flames. “Combination” alarms that offer both technologies in a single device are available.
As much as these devices can sometimes feel like they belong in antiquity, the manual task of changing batteries is well worth the time. Remember to test smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries every daylight savings.