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Know what your alarms are telling you
Published: 9/20/2021
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Less than three minutes…

That’s all the time you have to escape a fire in your home even if you are aware of it. Don’t have a working smoke alarm? Time might not even matter because you won’t know it before it’s too late.

With time being of the essence, it is vital your home is equipped with working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area and on each level of the residence, including the basement. Novi Assistant Fire Chief John Martin said they are coming across more and more home fires where smoke alarms are not present or not working.

“It’s no different than car insurance where you have it just in case you need it,” he said. “Take the time to make sure your home not only has the right amount of smoke alarms but that they are all in working order.” Test your smoke alarms at least once a month by pushing the test button. Also, have a fire escape plan and practice it,
every second counts when there is a fire.

Smoke alarms aren’t the only necessity, as every home should be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide (CO) alarm as well. Carbon monoxide is a “colorless, tasteless, odorless gas, that can go undetected and incapacitate of kill,” that Martin said more emphasis needs to be placed on. It is often a result of a faulty furnace, gas stove, hot water tank or other heating device.

Both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are the focus of 2021 Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3-9). The theme this year is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” educating users on what their respective alarms are telling them.

When a smoke alarm detects smoke or fire, a continued set of three loud beeps come from the device. A continuous set of four loud beeps means CO is present in your home. In either scenario you should get out of the home, call 9-1-1, and do not go back inside.

A single “chirp” from the smoke or CO alarm every 30-60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed. It should also be noted that all smoke alarms and CO alarms should be replaced after 10 years.

Residents have the option to purchase combination alarms that scan for both smoke and CO, and most new homes have alarms that are hardwired together. This connected alarm system provides an additional layer of safety because when one alarm goes off it sets all the other alarms off in the home.

Novi residents who are in need and cannot afford a new smoke or CO alarm or cannot install it on their own can contact the Novi Fire Department for free alarms and installation. To request an alarm, call 248.349.2162.

For additional fire safety tips, visit