The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently reported that 9 out of 10 people in the United States do not know how often smoke alarms should be replaced. It’s not hard to imagine that this percentage doesn’t hold true to the replacement of carbon monoxide detectors as well.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, when properly installed and maintained, help protect you and your loved ones from serious injury or even death. NFPA statistics show that working smoke alarms reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 50%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized.
The question is then - How often should smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors be replaced? According to the NFPA, smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from the date of manufacture. This is not the date it was purchased or installed, but the manufacture date printed on the side or the back of the unit.
Consumer Reports suggests replacing your carbon monoxide detector every 5 to 7 years, while KIDDE (an industry leader in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors) state most carbon monoxide detectors have a life span of 7 to 10 years depending on the model. In 2009, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), began requiring an end-of-life warning to alert homeowners when their carbon monoxide alarm has reached the end of its useful life. With the average 7 year life span, most of the units that do not have this feature have reached the end-of-life phase and should be replaced anyways.
Whether you were diligent or not in testing your detectors and changing batteries at Daylight’s Savings Time, it is definitely worth taking a second look at both your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure the units have not reached their end-of-life date. (Please keep this in mind if you happen to visit a home during this holiday season where the resident may not be able to check the units themselves.)
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