Check the date

Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association, 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. To increase awareness of this critical issue of public safety, Gov. Sam Brownback proclaimed the week of Oct. 9-15 as Fire Prevention Week with the theme, “Don’t wait, check the date! Replace smoke alarms every 10 years!”

A recent NFPA survey 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 the Office of the State Fire Marshal and fire departments throughout the state because smoke alarms don’t last forever.

“A working smoke alarm can save your life, but if it has expired and is no longer effective, that smoke alarm will give you a false sense of safety,” says Doug Jorgensen, State Fire Marshal for Kansas. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Kansans about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”

National Fire Alarm Code requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.

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.

Fire departments throughout Kansas will be hosting activities during Fire Prevention Week to promote fire safety. Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of having a working smoke alarm and checking for the date they were manufactured. —Office of the State Fire Marshal

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