Test Smoke Alarms

CAMARILLO, Calif. – Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) Chief Mark Lorenzen reminds us that as we change our clocks on Sunday, March 13, residents should also check smoke alarm batteries.

"Working smoke alarms make a life-saving difference in a home fire," said Chief Lorenzen. "Smoke alarms serve as an early-warning system so people can get out of their home quickly. As you set your clocks an hour ahead, please take a moment to make sure the smoke alarms in your home are working and properly installed."

Studies have shown 40% of fire fatalities occur in homes without functioning smoke alarms. When smoke alarms fail it is often because of missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. Nuisance activations are the leading cause of disabled smoke alarms.

The VCFD offers the following tips for making sure that smoke alarms are maintained and working properly:

  • Test smoke alarms monthly using the "test" button.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they don't respond properly when tested.
  • For smoke alarms that include a 10-year, non-replaceable battery, replace the entire smoke alarm if it begins to "chirp", indicating that the battery is running low. For smoke alarms that use replaceable batteries, change them annually or sooner if they begin to chirp.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, including the basement.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all do.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet from the stove.
  • Clean alarms periodically (follow manufacturer instructions).
  • Make sure everyone in the house is familiar with the sound of a smoke alarm.
  • Have an escape plan for your home and designate a meeting place outside for family members to meet in the event of an emergency.
  • Most homes are required to have carbon monoxide alarms. This is a good time to change those batteries as well.

For more information on smoke alarm installation, testing, and maintenance, explore the Ventura County Fire Department "Smoke Alarm" fact sheet available online at www.VCFD.org.

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