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Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors



Daylight saving time will come to an end on November 3. Homeowners and tenants will be setting the clocks back in their homes. Changing the clocks is a reminder for us to check our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety, and the National Fire Protection Association offer the following tips on fire prevention and on how to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors during the time change: 

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Smoke alarms with nonreplaceable batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm immediately.
  • Be sure all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms include the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan with all members of the household.
  • Close all interior doors before you go to sleep.
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or near an open window or door. 
  • Hearing impaired persons can use special alarms such as strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Place smoke detectors on the ceiling or high on a wall.
  • Keep smoke detectors away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet from the stove. 
  • Check the exhaust screen on your clothes dryer and remove accumulated lint to reduce a common fire hazard. 

If your detectors have removable batteries, make sure they are replaced with 10-year sealed lithium batteries, in accordance with a newly passed state law. In the past, faulty batteries have largely contributed to smoke alarms not functioning properly. The new law eliminates the need for annual replacements as these batteries are designed to last 10 years. The alarms will enhance fire detection in homes and reduce fire-related deaths.

One- and two-family dwellings, motel rooms, rooming houses and homes built before 1977 are required to comply with the new law. The Department of Community Affairs urges local fire officials and property owners/landlords to work together to ensure compliance. An owner of a one- or two-family home must demonstrate compliance prior to a sale or change of occupancy. Landlords who fail to comply with these regulations will be cited by the municipality and sent violation notices. 

Contact your local fire department and the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety at 609-633-6132 for assistance if your landlord is not complying with this law, and/or if the battery malfunctions. Community Affairs and your local fire department are there to ensure that your landlord complies with these regulations.  

If you are a homeowner and need assistance replacing your smoke alarm, the American Red Cross offers a free in-home program for smoke alarm installation. For details, see Take Action To Prevent Home Fires or call 877-733-2767, ext. 5.​​