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Smoke Detector Batteries

March 9, 2012

ImageFEMA figures show that 88% of homes in America had smoke detectors by 1991.  That’s good.  What percentage of those smoke detectors don’t work?  FEMA estimates that one third of the smoke detectors out there won’t work, usually due to dead batteries.

In my early days in the fire service, my training officer and I loaded up about a half dozen different types of home smoke detectors with new batteries and sat them on a shelf.  It took about 14-16 months before we got low battery alarms in all of them.  That tells me that you need to replace your smoke detector batteries at least once a year. 

We don’t care when you replace your smoke detector batteries.  It just needs to get done every year.  We recommend that you choose the same day every year and make that an annual appointment.  Some people do it on a birthday or other holiday.  At my house, we change smoke detector batteries the day after Thanksgiving.  Many people change smoke detector batteries when we change our clocks (and that’s coming up this weekend). 

One other sobering statistic from FEMA:  the 12% of homes that have no smoke detectors account for more than one half of the fires.  Furthermore, having operating smoke detectors increases everyone’s fire survival rate by 50%.

Larry the Cable Guy is your friend when it comes to replacing smoke detector batteries:  “Git ‘er done!”



Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.).  Smoke alarms.  Retrieved March 9, 2012, from

Cable Guy, Larry the.  (n.d.).  Git-R-Done.  Retrieved March 9, 2012, from


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