Will My Smoke Alarm be Ready When I Need It?

The semi-yearly ritual of changing the clocks has come and gone yet again. We’re all another year older, and hopefully smarter. As we pointed out in our last blog post, changing the clocks back should be accompanied by an even more important ritual: Changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. Now the folks here at GAMA Air are ready to move on to those other tips we mentioned before.

Here is a list of tips that will help you keep your family safe.

Make one trip to buy batteries.

This may sound like silly advice, but don’t assume you know what kind of batteries your smoke alarm takes. If you buy them, and get home to find out the 9-volt batteries you got are the wrong kind and your smoke alarms use the AA batteries, well… Like we said. Check first, and then just make one trip to the store.

Don’t go green.

So you earned some brownie points for thinking of it, but for your smoke detectors, don’t use rechargeable batteries. Use those for your kids talking toys and your home entertainment remotes. But manufacturers of smoke alarms do not recommend putting in rechargeable batteries. They may be economical and environmentally friendly, but they tend to lose their charge faster. That’s not the kind of battery you want to trust the life of your family with.

Stick with classic alkaline.

Lithium batteries are all the craze and for good reason. They last longer. Sound good? Well the downside is that when they die, it’s a quick death. Smoke alarms are designed to chirp when the battery is low. But if you use a lithium battery that chirp warning may only last a few hours. And if it happens to be a few hours when nobody is home… You might now know they’re dead until they don’t wake you up for a fire. Not worth it. Stick with what works: Alkaline batteries.

Don’t penny pinch.

A pack of those off brand batteries are a few dollars cheaper than the brand name ones. Worth it? Definitely not. Is your family worth less than a few bucks? Obviously not.

Retire the old smoke detectors.

Smoke alarms don’t last forever. 10 years is the generally accepted life-span. There should be a date of manufacture on the back. If you can’t read it, then it is old. Or if you see yours have accidentally gotten paint on them (remember that time you were trying to spruce up your home painting walls and ceilings…?) then replace them.

Take it to the next level.

The yearly “Change the clocks, change the batteries” ritual is the bare minimum you should be doing. Even better than that is monthly testing of all the smoke alarms in your home. I’ll bet you a dollar you’ve never done this. And the chances are still in my favor when I say I bet no one in your family or among your relatives has ever done this.

Is that because it is difficult? No. Most people don’t even know about it. That fact is, it is incredibly easy: See the “Test” button on the front of the smoke alarm? Push it. Did the alarm blare at you? Congratulations! Your smoke alarm works. Put it on your family calendar: “Monthly Smoke Alarm Test”.

Need help? Give GAMA Air a call at (310) 651-6936 or fill out our online form to request a service call. Curious about something related to your heating and cooling system? Visit our Ask an Expert page and let us know what’s on your mind.

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