It’s the middle of the night, everyone in your home is finally sleeping peacefully. The dog is snoring at the foot of the bed, and there isn’t a peep coming out of the kids’ rooms. That is until your fire alarm starts going off, and now everyone is in the hallways scratching their heads and rubbing their sleepy eyes. But there isn’t any signs of an actual fire. You are experiencing a false alarm.
False alarms are not uncommon, and we’ve all had to deal with them before. But what causes them, and more importantly, what can you do to make sure they stop happening?
A False Alarm Can Be A Real Concern
The most important thing to do when you have a false alarm is to make sure there isn’t a real fire. Figure out where your alarm sounded from, and be certain that there is no real cause for alarm. It may be annoying, but a false fire is the best scenario.
Also, never remove the batteries from your smoke detector! According to the National Fire Protection Agency, “nuisance alarms, most often caused by cooking, are the leading cause of home occupants disabling their smoke alarms”.
Even if you have an alarm that likes to cry wolf, it’s better to be protected when you’re in danger than to leave yourself susceptible a real fire with no warning.
What Causes a False Fire Alarm?
Cooking: A Leading Cause of False Alarms
We mentioned it earlier, but cooking is one of the leading causes of false alarms. Burnt toast, or overcooking something on the stove can be enough of a trigger to set off your smoke alarm, potentially alerting the whole neighborhood to your new found love of baking.
If you are worrying about the numerous false alarms you’ve been setting off, check out these hot tips to keep your kitchen’s false alarms in check.
Fireplace and Campfire Smoke
Another problem that could lead to smoke detector mishap is an actual fire that is under control. You may want to keep your fireplace going all night, but it isn’t advisable, and you may not have the skills to keep the smoke under wraps.
Not only will smoke from your fireplace cause false alarms to sound off if you aren’t careful, but over time it can cause creosote buildup that can cause much more serious trouble. Make sure to have your chimney inspected annually as a good fire safety measure
But even a campfire burning outside can set off your smoke detectors inside. Again, it’s important to always identify the source of your trouble and ventilate accordingly.
High Humidity and False Alarms
High humidity, like the steam coming from a hot shower, can mimic smoke and provoke an unwanted alarm. The best offense here is a good defense. Using proper ventilation and fans can prevent false alarms.
So make sure you turn on that ceiling fan in the bathroom. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, crack a window in the summertime, or leave a crack in the door to give the steam somewhere to escape.
If you are experiencing a higher number of false alarms than you normally do, it can be a sign that your alarms are not working properly. A fix here can be as simple as swapping out an old battery, but remember, smoke detectors only have a lifespan of about ten years. It might just be time to take the old one down and see what fire alarm systems are new on the market.
Did you know you can get a smart smoke detector that links to your smartphone? Check out the newest models of smart detectors from Nest for some great innovations in fire alarm technology. You’ll be able to turn off false alarms from your phone rather than waving a newspaper until your arms get tired. If you’d like more information about smart smoke detectors, read our blog!
Save Yourself a Visit from the Fire Department
There are many reasons why you might be getting false alarms from your fire detection system, and all of them are cause for investigation. Knowing why you have a false alarm problem is the first step to making sure your home is protected.
It could be that you need some simple alarm maintenance done, or you could just have your detector in a bad position, but make sure you figure out what the problem is! According to the NFPA, “…three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms”.
You’ve already got your smoke alarms in your home, so don’t become part of this statistic! If your alarm goes off, listen to it, and figure out what you need to do to stop these annoying wake-up calls.