Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.
A recent NFPA survey revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for the Office of the State Fire Marshal and fire departments throughout the state because smoke alarms don’t last forever.
“A working smoke alarm can save your life, but if it has expired and is no longer effective, that smoke alarm will give you a false sense of safety,” says Doug Jorgensen, State Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Kansans about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”
NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.
Fire departments throughout Kansas will be hosting activities during Fire Prevention Week to promote fire safety. Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of having a working smoke alarm and checking for the date they were manufactured.
On Saturday, October 15, the Office of the State Fire Marshal will join with SafeKids Kansas to encourage families throughout the state to participate in Home Fire Drill Day. On this day, every family should test their smoke alarms and practice their escape plan. Information on home fire safety, including how to diagram and practice an escape plan, is available at FireMarshal.ks.gov/firesafety.
For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”, visit FireMarshal.ks.gov/fpw.