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Public Safety

Fire Prevention Week: Check the age of smoke detectors

By Cindy Graniersmoke detectors

The University of Houston Fire Marshal’s Office urges the UH community – especially commuter students – to know how old their smoke alarms are, and to replace them in their homes every 10 years.

Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.

A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. That lack of awareness is a concern for your local Fire Department and NFPA, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.

“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” says Chris McDonald of the UH Fire Marshal’s Office. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate off-campus students about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”

To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries should be replaced once a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.