Spring forward and change your smoke alarm battery

In the Midwest, March comes in like a lion but also brings with it many signs of spring: daffodils, robins, and Daylight Saving Time (and mud). Every spring, Americans will trade an hour of sleep for an extra hour of evening sunshine. As you go room to room springing your clocks forward an hour, take this opportunity to check your smoke alarms and change their batteries.

If they’re working properly, smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in home fires by half, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), but smoke alarm maintenance is up to homeowners.

Many homes may not have any smoke alarms, not enough smoke alarms, alarms that are too old, or alarms that are not working. If a smoke alarm is 10 years old or older, it needs to be replaced.

“Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes,” says Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education. That's a mistake: Roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Homeowners can make sure their smoke alarms are maintained and working properly with these tips from Grinnell Mutual:

  • Test your smoke alarms. This weekend push the test button on your smoke alarms. Make sure everyone in your home knows the sound. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month
  • Check the batteries. If a smoke alarm “chirps,” that means the battery is low and should be replaced right away.
  • Replace old smoke alarms. How old are your smoke alarms? If they were installed before 2006 or if they do not respond properly to testing, replace them. This includes alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms.
  • Connect your smoke alarms. Interconnect hard-wired smoke alarms so if one sounds, all will sound. Contact a certified electrician or purchase wireless systems that you can install yourself.
  • Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

Visit Grinnell Mutual on YouTube to see a demonstration of how a smoke alarm activates in a home fire.