Oct 11 2011

How old are your smoke alarms?

It’s National Fire Prevention Week, and so I’m doing a little PSA on smoke alarms.

See this fact sheet from FEMA for more info.

Question for ya: How old are your smoke alarms? Did you know that the alarms need replaced after 8-10 years?

Our house is 11 years old and there’s no indication the alarms are newer than that, so we are replacing all of them. If you don’t know how old yours are, consider replacing them to be safe.

We chose an alarm* that has photoelectric and ionization sensors, which are designed to detect the smoldering fire and fast-moving, blazing fire. The house is wired so that if one detector goes off, they all do. Note that the version I linked is for hard-wired installations. You may need a battery-only version. There’s a 15% off deal for that alarm on Amazon, and perhaps there are more that qualify for that promo right now.

If your alarms are within reasonable age range, be sure the battery is fresh and operational.

Stats on the link above suggest that two-thirds of fire deaths occur when there are no smoke alarms, or no working smoke alarms. So maybe you have an alarm, but it’s not working because it’s old.

We also have an escape ladder* for my bedroom. I’ve been thinking about how to use it while carrying a baby. Probably something like: hold a kid in left arm, step down a rung or two, switch kid to right arm, grab a lower rung with left arm. I dunno for sure and I hope I don’t have to put it in practice.

Next up, we have a carbon monoxide detector and it just plugs into the wall. We have a fire extinguisher in our kitchen but we should also add one to our garage. Sometimes an extinguisher can put it out, sometimes you just gotta GET out.

Shane and I are going to talk about different scenarios for if a fire started and where we will meet up outside.

Talk about this stuff with your family. If your kids are old enough to understand, do a fire drill and have a discussion. Change your batteries on your smoke detectors, and replace them if they are getting old.

*links are Amazon affiliate. This content is not sponsored by anyone. I’m just on the safety patrol.

8 Responses to “How old are your smoke alarms?”

  1. Sadly, our house doesn’t have any smoke detectors. I know! We need to get some. I just never think of it! At least we don’t have to wonder if they are more than 8-10 years old. :-)

  2. There was just a terrible fire in Bloomington with one fatality–in an entire apartment complex, 0 smoke detectors went off. It is so horrible to think that because of something so simple–a working smoke detector–someone lost her life.

    I have no idea how old ours are–I check them twice a year. They beep when the battery is low (can’t ignore that) and have blinking green lights when they are functioning, so I’d like to think I would notice if it weren’t blinking in between checks.

    We also have a carbon monoxide detector since we use a wood burning fireplace. We have only two smoke detectors, but one is in the kitchen and the other right outside the bedrooms–we live in an 1100 sq foot single level home, so I feel that is enough (they both go off when one sounds).

    I am investing in new ones after this post! I didn’t realize they should be replaced after 8 years! :) Thanks for being on safety patrol!

  3. Ashley — eep! You can get the battery-operated only kind and just stick them on your ceiling or wall or wherever it says to install it. Won’t take long to do and then you’re covered.

  4. One of the easiest ways to estimate the age of your smoke detector is to just look at it. If the detector looks yellowish and not the original white color it was when you bought it then change it. Also, some smoke detectors will have dates of when they were manufactured on them.

    If you can’t afford smoke detectors then check with your local fire department. Some cities or town will give you a free one and in some cases firefighter will come to your house and install it in the correct location.

    I have been a firefighter for over 22 years and it is not uncommon for us to have at least one new smoke dectector on the truck or at least one or two back at the station. In my career I have seen many people die because of not having smoke detectors or by just not replacing the battery.

    Do everyone in your family a favor get smoke detectors and make sure you have at least on carbon monoxide detector also. Better safe then sorry.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Ken! That’s right — some fire departments can help out with detectors for families.

    Oh, and our old detectors were definitely yellowed. Gross!

  6. Might be time that we update. It’s been about seven or eight years now. Maybe even ten at this point… Hmm. Yeah, it’s time to update.

    By the way, I’m starting up my own saving/debt blog. You have inspired me, and I’m really hoping that writing a blog will keep me gravitated towards doing what I need to do to get things done.


    Thank you!

  7. I’m glad I insisted on a carbon monoxide detector when we moved into our house last year! My husband was power washing the basement when he heard an annoying beeping. We he saw what was going off he was like “oh, crap…” turned it off and opened all the windows. He was sick for two days! But I wasn’t home and when I got home several hours later I couldn’t even stay inside because it was so strong. I think it may have saved his life.

  8. Wow! Yeah it probably did save his life. Glad you had that!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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