Thursday, 10 January 2019
New Year Resolutions for your home: smoke detectors
For one thing, you should have one on every level of the home. Besides the fact that [the law requires this], it improves their effectiveness. Although a second floor smoke detector will eventually pick up smoke from a fire in the basement, there will be a delay until the smoke reaches the top floor. This can vary in speed depending on barriers to the smoke from basement doors being closed to bulkheads and walls creating a damming effect on the smoke's flow. This can allow the fire to spread more before you are alerted on the second floor, and with how quickly fire can spread even a few minutes can mean a difference between life and death. So, if you don't already have one on every level, it would be a good thing to take care of right away.
Second, changing their batteries on a regular basis is a good idea. Everyone has their own preference about when to do it, but many do it either at the beginning of the year (good time to start now if you haven't done them recently) or at one (or both) of the DST time changes. At least once a year is a good idea to be safe. Most smoke detectors have a low-battery warning where it will intermittently chirp to indicate the battery is getting low. Certainly changing the battery in this situation is a good idea, but it's better not to rely on it - it wouldn't be the first time a battery died quickly and you may miss any warning while out of the house. And when it comes to the smoke detectors, "better safe than sorry" is no weak platitude.
Finally, it's also a good idea to change the smoke detectors themselves every now and then. Every manufacturer and model will have their own guidelines so check them out. If you can't find information on your smoke detector or don't know how old it is, it might be a good idea to install new ones to be safe.
More information on maintaining your smoke detectors is available on Ontario's [Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services site].