This Is Only a Test

13 Oct

Because we’ve moved a lot, we have lived in many different houses and almost every house has had the smoke detectors go off in the middle of the night. I don’t mean that annoying chirping sound that you hear when the battery is dead. I mean the jump-from-your-bed, run-and-grab-the-kids, call 911 and dash-outside kind of going off. But every time the firefighters say, “There’s nothing wrong go back to bed.” Well we thought, at least we got to practice our fire escape plan a few times.

This last time though, our firefighters told us something else. Something I’m sure we should have heard about four houses ago.

Firefighters: “Your smoke detectors have expired.”

Me (looking oh so great at 3 am): “WHAT?”

Who knew? I have been on my own for years, yes, years, and no one ever told me smoke detectors had a shelf life. And, just in case you didn’t know either, smoke detectors only last about ten years. After that, you should replace them all.

To check your smoke detector’s expiration date, remove the detector and look underneath for a date. My detector had the date it was made printed on it so I knew it was expired.

Even if you are in a new house, you should check the dates. Some builders receive great deals if they buy materials in bulk and they pass the savings on to you. However, sometimes, when builders buy in bulk, materials sit in warehouses for months or years. You may have a detector installed in your home that has been in a warehouse and isn’t as new as you think.

This is Fire Prevention Week, and I encourage you to test your smoke detectors, check their expiration date, change the batteries, demonstrate the sound for your kids and set up an escape plan. You never know when it will be the real  thing, and not a test.

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