Smoke detector maintenance can save lives

(Source: Rob Foote/KFVS)
(Source: Rob Foote/KFVS)
(Source: Rob Foote/KFVS)
(Source: Rob Foote/KFVS)

(KFVS) - Something many of us forget about and just assume they work is our smoke detectors.

"There were flames coming on the walls there were flames coming out of the ceiling," Carbondale, IL. Police Officer Benjamin Jones said. "I found an elderly couple inside a bedroom and they had no idea what was going on."

Officer Jones described a scene he will never forget.

"Had I not been there when I did, they probably wouldn't have made it," Jones said.

"Most people maintain their carpet, they clean their house, but they never check the smoke detectors, which is the most important piece in their entire household, on safety," Captain Robert Greif with Jackson Fire Rescue said.

"We tell everyone to do that when the time changes, which is twice a year," Greif said. "The National Fire Protection Association recommends at least once a year if you have a battery operated detector."

Greif said with some models you do not have to change the battery. Those should last about 10 years, which is about how long you should keep any smoke detector.

"Most people don't know that smoke detectors have a shelf life," Greif said. "There's a date of manufacture on that back that all smoke detectors should be replaced after 10 years of this date on the back of your detector."

"They make some that are very cheap and work really well," Matt Fluegge with Ken's Ace Hardware in Jackson said. "Then they get up to the higher dollar range where they are hardwired all together throughout your house."

Along with the hardwired detectors, there are also ones that connect wirelessly, something firefighters recommend.

"Interconnect smoke detector is your best detector," Greif said. "That way the adults can get up and get the children out of the house safely so they don't become a fatality statistic."

You can also buy detectors online, but no matter if you buy one in store or online, look for a certification.

"If you get one that has the UL certification number on the back, you know you're getting one of quality," Greif said.

So, check the batteries at least once a year, change the detector 10 years after the manufacturing date and get one that is UL certified.

"Most of the time without a smoke detector, people do not wake up within their home, and they usually become part of the statistics," Greif said.

According to Greif, the fire department follows standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which also gives additional information on smoke alarms.

You can find the NFPA guidelines on smoke alarm location here.

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