When was the last time you tested and updated your smoke detectors?

I heard a statistic recently that one out of three homes has an inoperable smoke detector. As a professional property manager and the daughter of a retired battalion chief of the SFFD this really surprised me! I began to think about the number of homes I visit each year and how many times I remind people to change batteries or replace old detectors; suddenly I began to feel that this statistic was not only frightening but accurate too! Accurate or not, it did make me think that any time is the right time for fire safety reminders.

  • Change your smoke detector batteries once/twice a year. An easy reminder of this is to change them when you change your clocks forward/back for daylight savings time adjustments.  (And while you are at it, change your furnace/air conditioning filters!)
  • If a detector unit is more than 8 years old…it’s time to replace!
  • Use a permanent marker pen to note the date on the battery and also a date on the unit so you can keep track of the battery and detector life span.

Now that your detectors are tested and in good working order, here are some tips on ways to avoid ever needing that detector in the first place!! These are things I look at during an annual property visit (in addition to a list of several other things!) so have a look around your own home to make sure you are safe as well!

  • Do not overload electrical connections that may result in hot wiring or connections. Limit the use of extension cords too!
  • Avoid storing combustibles or flammable items. If you must, make sure the area is safe and properly ventilated.
  • Keep safe areas around furnaces and hot water heaters; 30 inches of clearance space is recommended by most furnace and hot water heater manufacturers.
  • Never, ever leave burning candles unattended!
  • When BBQ’s and other seasonal camping equipment is not in use, clean them well and store them in a safe and well ventilated place until it’s time to use them again. Always make sure that BBQ’s, patio heaters and patio fire pits have proper clearance from roof lines, tree branches and anything else that can catch fire. Be sure to monitor sparks that fly from these outdoor gadgets as well!
  • If you live in a home with a fireplace or woodstove, the chimney needs to be properly cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Always maintain clean furnace and dryer filters. Dryer filter screens need to be cleaned with every cycle of laundry dried and dryer ducts also need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Having a regular size load of laundry take longer than one regular cycle to dry can be the first sign the ducts need to be cleaned.

You can never be too safe! These are very basic fire prevention practices, but so very important. If you ever have a question…you can always call the non-emergency phone line for your local fire department. Their favorite subject is fire prevention!