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What to do when your smoke alarm sounds

Aug 13, 2015

IMPORTANT: Never ignore the sound of an alarm!

NOTE: When the alarm senses products of combustion and goes into alarm mode, the pulsating alarm will continue until the air is cleared. If the alarm does sound, check for fires first. If a fire is discovered, follow the steps below.

If no fire is present and your alarms are still sounding, go to: What to do if you have a nuisance or false alarm

In the case that your smoke alarm sounds, perform the following steps:

  1. Alert small children in the home.
  2. Leave immediately by your escape plan. NOTE:  Every second counts, so do not waste time getting dressed or picking up valuables.
  3. In leaving, do not open any inside door without first feeling its surface. If hot, or if you see smoke seeping through cracks, do not open that door! Instead, use your alternate exit. If the inside of the door is cool, place your shoulder against it, open it slightly and be ready to slam it shut if heat and smoke rush in.
  4. Stay close to the floor if the air is smoky. Breathe shallowly through a cloth, wet if possible.
  5. Once outside, go to your selected meeting place and make sure everyone is there.
  6. Call the fire department from your neighbor's home.
  7. Do not return to your home until the fire officials say that it is alright to do so.
There are situations where a smoke alarm may not be effective to protect against fire as stated in the NFPA Standard 72. For instance:
  • Smoking in bed
  • Leaving children home alone
  • Cleaning with flammable liquids, such as gasoline

NOTE: For more information about your specific alarm, refer to your user’s manual. 

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