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We’re all familiar with the biggest cooking critic in our kitchen: our smoke detectors. Between nagging us over burnt toast and pointing out our overly crisp casseroles, it’s understandable that we may want to disconnect them and leave them sitting in the corner of shame for a night or two… or three. While no one truly enjoys the loud judgement of the smoke alarm, it’s important to properly maintain it as it could one day save your life.

The second week of October is Fire Prevention Week across Canada, a week which exists to raise awareness of the simple steps we can take to prevent our risk of experiencing a fire. According to BC’s Annual Fire Statistical Report, a residential fire occurs every 32 hours on average in BC (cooking being the leading cause of household fires at 34%). This means that it’s not only important to ensure your home’s smoke alarms are fully operational, but that they aren’t past their 10-year expiration date.

To help get you started on double checking the fire safety measures in your home, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for smoke alarm maintenance.

Smoke alarm safety tips

  • Fire alarms should be located on every level of the house and outside sleeping areas
  • Test your fire alarms once a month. Although smoke detectors have a lifespan of up to 10 years, this does not necessarily mean that the batteries and/or other elements can’t fail sooner. If your cooking hasn’t confirmed this for you, click the test button just in-case. Set a monthly alarm on your phone calendar to ensure you never forget!
  • Know what to do if your smoke alarm does go off! Be sure that all members of the household know the escape routes and what you will do in case of an emergency
  • Be aware that smoke alarms expire! While the majority of newer alarms are good for 10 years, many models are only intended to last up to five. If you aren’t sure when your alarm was installed, check the “Date of Manufacture” on the back or side of your device.
  • If you’re retiring your alarm, be sure to recycle it! That’s right, expired smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are not garbage. In BC, they are completely recyclable through our program. Find your nearest drop-off location to recycle them for free.

When you recycle your smoke alarms, they broken down into the basic elements to be recycled properly. The metal and plastic within your alarm are recycled into new products, and any elements that require special handling are processed in accordance with provincial and federal regulations.

If you want to know more about Fire Prevention Week, check out the NFPA’s website. Remember, just owning a smoke alarm is not enough if it doesn’t work, so don’t wait – check the date!

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