Did you know...?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Did you know that your smoke detectors have an expiration date, and your fire extinguishers will slowly discharge over time?

Today's post is a reminder about the importance of checking your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on a regular basis.  Why?  Because you never know when you might need them.  And these are items that you do NOT want to malfunction...

It has finally started to get cooler here in the evenings (thank goodness!!!) but with that comes mixed blessings.  My husband and I LOVE sleeping with it fairly cold in our room.  Our kids, not so much.  And it isn't healthy or safe for our littlest one.  So Saturday night we turned on the furnace to make sure the temperature wouldn't dip below 65.  All was well until our furance kicked on early in the morning.  We woke up to a smoky haze everywhere and our son yelling about smoke in the house!!!  Not exactly what you want to wake up to.

We jumped out of bed and ran around trying to figure out what was causing the smoke.  It didn't smell like a fire, and it had the distinct smell of the burning dust that comes when you turn on your furnace for the first time each season, but we've NEVER had smoke along with it.  We checked to make sure there was no fire, and then we turned everything off.  Our smoke detectors had NOT gone off this entire time, even though the entire upstairs (where there are 5 smoke detectors) was very hazy. 

My husband went up into the attic (where our furnace is) to check for smoke, flames, etc.  He ran downstairs and grabbed our fire extinguisher from the kitchen, just in case.  No flames, no smoldering - however, once he got back down from the attic, he looked at the fire extinguisher and realized that it was completely discharged and unusable.  Had he needed it for the attic, we would have been in big trouble.  UGH!!!

We opened the windows to help air out the upstairs, and about 2 minutes after opening the windows, the smoke detectors throughout the house went off.  And kept going off.  We couldn't get them to stop, even after we pulled the batteries out (which usually quiets them).  We finally got them to stop, once again checked to make sure there was no fire anywhere, and went to replace the batteries.  We got to the one in our son's room, and no matter what we tried, we could not get the battery back in without the alarm going off - new battery, old battery, it didn't matter. 

The smoke detector had us worried since it was malfunctioning, and we realized that they are all about 9 years old in our house.  What most people may not realize is that smoke detectors have an expiration date!  And it is usually between 5-10 years, depending on the type.  With the issues we were having, and the fact that the other detectors were all either expired or getting very close to expiration, we figured it was best to replace them all. 

Soooo...off to Home Depot I went, to buy fire extinguishers and smoke detectors!

These things aren't cheap!  But then again, how can you really put a price on safety and peace of mind?  We actually already had two new smoke detectors still in the packages, that we bought earlier this summer for the kids' rooms (voice alarms) and which we had not yet installed.  And we decided to add more fire extinguishers (one for each floor, which is the recommendation of most of the national safety councils).  We also are putting in a couple of dual-sensor smoke detectors to replace some of the ionization ones we have, so we'll have a little better coverage.  I learned a lot from this mess, and also from my trip to the store to purchase these items, so I have lots to fill you in on in an upcoming post!