10 Lifesaving Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

Services for Real Estate Pros with IDTheftSecurity.com Inc

One minute or less…

…is all the time you may have to escape a fire in your home. Schlage, which is dedicated to keeping homes and families safe, sound and secure, and I ask: “Do you have a smoke alarm?” It can double your chances of escaping death. Home smoke detectors have cut fire fatalities in half since they came on the market in the early 1970s.

Nevertheless, fires kill about 3,000 people a year in the U.S. Forty percent of these deaths occur in homes that lack working smoke alarms (40 percent!)

  • If you don’t have a smoke alarm, get one or as many as you need—today.
  • Never deactivate them while cooking.

Did you know that most fire deaths are from smoke inhalation, rather than being burned to death, even though the dead body often becomes burned to a crisp (yes, TMI, but seriously)…? An escape route can be blocked by thick, dangerous smoke, not plumes of fire. A smoke detector can get you responding sooner and thus avoid fatal smoke inhalation.

  • Exit the building when the alarm sounds.
  • Then stay out. (Have a post-escape family meeting place pre-determined.)
  • From a neighbor’s house call 9-1-1.

Smoke alarms can also signal a flashing light for the hearing impaired. Alarms are also available that trigger a vibration under your sleeping pillow.

The Importance of Drills

Plan an escape route, then run fire drills. If possible, figure out two ways to exit every room, even if that means out a window. Make sure everyone in the household understands and can run through the escape route. The practice should include the post-exit meeting place outside.

  • Practice drills during less-than-desirable times: in the middle of the night, in very cold weather, etc., as well as under more ideal circumstances.
  • Tweak the plan as necessary. Who may be capable of actually sleeping through the alarm? This should be addressed. Make sure that an escape plan is in place for physically disabled occupants, babies and pets.
  • Purchase a folding ladder in case an escape through an upper window is necessary.


  • Every month (or at least every 6), clean dust from the alarms and push the test button.
  • Never paint the alarm.
  • Change the batteries every time you change your clocks.

10-Year Lifespan

An alarm that’s over 10 years old needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure how old they are, replace them.

Leave Quickly

Some door handles are fussy when you try and open them. Make sure your home is equipped with door handles that unlock then the door is opened from the inside, like the Schlage F51A. This lock allows homeowners to leave quickly and conveniently in an emergency.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussinghome security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.


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Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

Good article Robert.  You reminded me of my college days when I went door to door trying to sell 3M Smoke Alarms.  It contained a stainless seel band wound backwards.  Didn't need batteries.

Feb 22, 2014 12:58 AM #1
Tim Lorenz
TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team - Mission Viejo, CA
949 874-2247

Hi Robert

Thank you for the data on smoke detector.  Thanks.

Feb 22, 2014 01:33 AM #2
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Robert- our friend's house burned about 3 years ago and thankfully no one was hurt.  It is so important to have working alarms and have a plan that you rehearse with your family. 

Feb 22, 2014 01:46 AM #3
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Feb 22, 2014 10:05 AM #4
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Robert -  you are right.  Alarms do have a lifespan and should be replaced and maintained in between.  A non working alarm is no better than none at all.

Feb 22, 2014 10:31 AM #5
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Robert... a great reminder of safety precautions in the event of a fire.

Feb 22, 2014 07:45 PM #6
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

Great information.  People take things for granted.  There is a reason smoke detectors are mandatory in each room when selling homes.

Feb 22, 2014 09:26 PM #7
Beth and Richard Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Huntington, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

Good stuff Robert... I think most folks forget about these alarms until it's too late... we have ours connected directly to the fire department so our alarm company takes care of it... If not I'd most likely be one of those folks that forgot about it until it was to late... 

Feb 23, 2014 02:23 AM #8
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

We often see shows depicting people in large cities turning about 16 deadbolts to lock out intruders. How would they fare in a fire?

Feb 23, 2014 03:34 AM #9
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Robert:  Your post and its info will be shared as many places as I can think of ... thank you ... 


Feb 23, 2014 04:38 AM #10
Cathy Wolters
Wolters Realty & Property Management Company - Cocoa, FL
Your Brevard County Property Management Expert

Robert, I wasn't aware of the 10 year replacement, thanks for the great information. 

Feb 23, 2014 09:12 AM #11
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

The test feature suggestion and the fire drill are excellent points.

Feb 23, 2014 10:55 AM #12
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

A good reminder of how important it is not only to have smoke detectors that are functioning, but to have a plan to exit the home in the event of a fire.

Feb 23, 2014 11:20 AM #13
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Robert, I know we used to tell homeowners about changing the batteries of alarm system when the time change occurs - however with this shorter period of DST, may be, a good idea is to suggest on 15th March and 15th Sept! (just kidding!).

Yes, it is very important to change the batteries - every six months! (and avoid the chirping bird sound every few minutes!)

Feb 24, 2014 01:16 PM #14
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