Most people use the gift of an extra hour given by the fall Daylight Saving Time change to catch a few extra Zzzs. Go for it—and when you get up, use another minute to test your alarms.
Ideally you should test all smoke alarms monthly, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. For sure, let the biannual time change be a great reminder. Even for smoke alarms that have long-life batteries—or are hard-wired—it’s still important to make sure the alarm is working. Not every single long-life battery will work for 10 years, and even hard-wired alarms can fail. Test your CO detectors too. They need to be replaced every 5-7 years.
While having a working smoke alarm is important, it’s just as important that everyone knows what to do if it goes off. Make sure everyone in your home knows to get moving right away, because you probably have less time than you think to escape.
When you plan your escape route, include where outside you will all meet. Your meeting place should be a safe distance from your home but where firefighters can see you. Choose something very specific that everyone can remember and find easily: a tree, a telephone pole, or mailbox.
Do you need to update your escape plan? Look around and think about what’s changed in the last 6 months or year. Has an older adult joined your household? Consider whether they should sleep in a room on the ground floor to make escape easier. If anyone in your household has diminished hearing, consider a type of smoke alarm that uses a low frequency, flashing light or vibration.
This year many people are welcoming a return to holiday gatherings. Will guests be staying over? Tell visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan, including your meeting place. Show overnight guests how to open deadbolts or security bars. When you or your children are staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan.