Fire Prevention Week: How to Test and Change Your Alarms

It’s Fire Prevention Week here in Calgary and we’re here to help spread the word. Did you know that house fires can double in size every 30-60 seconds? It’s important to know safe fire practices in and around your home in case of emergency, as well as do your best to prevent a fire from happening in the first place. Today, we are focusing on how to test and change your alarms so that you are prepared in the event of a fire.

In 2016, an estimated one-third of all fires in Calgary happened between 10pm and 7am, therefore while most people are sleeping. Smoke alarms are crucial to alerting you when there is danger in your home, whatever time of day, so that you and your loved ones can exit the house safely before too much damage is done. “More than one-third of all fire fatalities are associated with having no smoke alarm,” says the City of Calgary.


To ensure your home is safely prepared, it’s important to test your smoke alarms regularly – we recommend once a month. You will know when to replace the batteries once the alarm starts making a chirping sound, but it’s best to replace the batteries once a year just in case. Every ten years, it’s important to replace the entire alarm to ensure it’s in the best possible working condition. Make sure you have alarms on all levels of your home and near all sleeping areas so that it can alert everyone when danger is near.


One common question we often hear is: how do I tell if my smoke alarm is expired? As we mentioned above, it’s best to replace your smoke alarm every ten years for optimal detection. If you’re unsure how to check if you alarm has expired or not, follow these steps:


  1. Remove your smoke alarm and look on the back of the device.
  2. Check the date and see how long ago it was made.
  3. If it was made ten years ago or more, or you cannot find the date, replace the alarm as soon as possible. If it was made less than ten years ago, make note of the date and set a reminder for when the new one needs to be purchased.


In addition, you should also check your carbon monoxide detectors. This deadly gas is tasteless, scentless and invisible so it’s impossible to detect without an alarm. Test these alarms the same way you would with a smoke alarm, checking them once per month and replacing the batteries whenever it chirps. If the alarm does go off, first check if anyone is feeling symptoms, such as headaches dizziness, sleepiness, weakness, nausea, etc. If anyone is feeling any one of these symptoms, leave your home, call emergency services and stay outside in the fresh air until they arrive.


We hope that you don’t need to use these alarms in the near future, but we want to ensure that you are properly educated and prepared in the event of an emergency. So, test your alarms regularly to ensure that you and your family stay safe this fall season.