A smoke alarm is only as good as it is tended to: the batteries must be changed, the alarm must be tested, and the smoke alarm itself must be changed too. Two-thirds of deaths by house fires are in homes that don't have working smoke alarms. We'll inform you of the to-dos as well as the dos and don'ts of smoke alarms. First things first, check the manufacturer recommendations on your smoke alarm(s); they vary based on model and strength. Some alarms never need their batteries to be changed, these alarms are typically very expensive, but it might be the case in your home. As a rule, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) recommends that batteries be changed once or twice a year. If the batteries are low, the alarm might not be as loud as it needs to be in an emergency. If you feel like the batteries still have power in them, you could use them in products that are not meant for safety like remotes, toys, or small lamps. Most smoke alarms chirp when the batteries are low, but you want to make a point to change them before the alarm chirps. It may seem excessive, but it is specifically for precautionary reasons; you want your alarm to have the power it needs to alert you as loudly as possible of a house fire at all times. Here is some basic smoke alarm knowledge: Do: - Use name-brand batteries. - Test alarm(s) once a month (press the "test" button on the alarm). - Change batteries in all smoke alarms at once. Don't: - Don't use rechargeable batteries! - Don't assume that alarms and their batteries will work forever. Even with newer systems and better longer-lasting batteries, smoke alarms need to scream when they are set off in an emergency, so be sure to use the best batteries and the best systems available to you. Many smoke alarms are connected to the electrical system in a home and use batteries as a backup during power outages. Regardless, even during a power outage, you want your smoke alarm to sound off no matter what. Finally, take into account that smoke alarms are to be changed out every year. Smoke alarms lose their sensitivity but must be at their maximum potential at all times. Remember that the care of your smoke alarm(s) is vital to the care of yourself, your family, as well as household and valuables.