As we move into spring, homeowners across Ontario are emerging from hibernation and ready to accomplish their springtime tasks. It’s time to fill up the pool, find out what has been nesting in your shed, and perhaps, maybe, actually clean out the garage this year (although let’s not hold our breath!).
While your To-Do list might already look overwhelming, we have one small item to add: Check and change your smoke alarms.
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to make sure your home is up-to-date with fire safety. You’re already going to be breaking out the step ladders to reach up in those dusty, old closets you’ve been meaning to clean out, you might as well use them for one extra job. Take a moment between chores to do something that will meaningfully protect your family and your property for the year to come.
Charge into spring with new batteries
Conventional wisdom when it comes to changing your smoke detector’s batteries is to wait for the warning chirp and do it then. But why wait until the batteries are already drained? When you allow your batteries to get low, you’re only inviting potential issues. Maybe the detector will chirp for a few days while you’re on vacation, and you’ll never realize you’re unprotected when you get home. Or maybe it’s in the basement and nobody notices until the batters are fully depleted. These might not be the likeliest scenarios, but they are possible.
Get ahead of any potential trouble and swap your batteries out now. Make sure to "spring” for quality name brand batteries that you can rely on. That way you’ll know for certain that your detectors are charged up and good to go until at least the winter.
Now it’s time to scare the children and annoy the pets with a test alarm (or you could, you know, let them know about it in advance and shoo the dog outside). This is basic due diligence to make sure they are working properly and are suitably loud and powerful enough to get your undivided attention when it matters. Ideally you should be testing your detectors on a monthly basis, but we know how sometimes these things slip. There is no time like the present to get caught up.
This year’s (or decade’s) model
If you notice any problems like a dead test or weak alarm, it’s time to buy a replacement. Hopefully you won’t have any issues with your current smoke detectors, but if you do, this might be a good time to reconsider your home fire safety set up. If you live in an older building or it’s been many years since your fire detectors were installed, it’s likely you’re missing out on some handy upgrades that have become standard features over the past few years.
If you need to replace one or two individual alarms already, consider switching to an interconnected system. This means when one alarm goes off, so do the rest. You might think your home isn’t large enough to need this kind of system, but consider those days when your kids are watching TV or playing noisy games in one room, your spouse is showering or running laundry, and you’re trying to finally catch up on that episode/season/series you missed on the tablet. Are you really likely to hear an alarm in the basement?
This kind of modern system is even more important for things like carbon monoxide detection. Having your upstairs alarms go off when a problem is detected in the basement could save lives.
Even if your alarms still work, consider replacing them if they are over 10 years old. A full decade of service is a lot to ask from any device, but especially one you’re depending on to protect your family. Upgrade to a newer model with extra features like emergency escape lights to help people navigate during a dark or smoky situation, or an easy push-hush button for those times you accidentally burn the toast.
Spring cleaning is great, but Spring Safety is even more important. Follow the tips above to make sure your smoke detectors are working; charged up, and ready to go, so you can enjoy a worry-free summer!