Only a functioning smoke alarm can protect you. This is why you should never disable an alarm. This includes borrowing its battery for another use or ripping it off of the ceiling.
Testing and Maintaining
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions, and test all your smoke alarms monthly.
- You should also install new batteries at least once a year. A good reminder is when you change your clocks in the spring or fall: change your clock, change your battery.
- Clean your smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover and never paint over a smoke alarm.
- Smoke alarms do not last forever. Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
Plan and Practice
- Make sure everyone is familiar with the sound of the alarm.
- Plan escape routes. Know at least two ways out of each room. Agree on a meeting place outside your home where all residents will gather after they escape. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
- Remove obstructions from doors and windows needed for escape.
- Make sure everyone in the household can unlock doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars should be equipped with quick-release devices and everyone in the household should know how to use them.
- When an alarm sounds, leave immediately. Go directly to your outside meeting place and call the fire department.
- Once you're out, stay out. Never return to a burning building.