Now is the time to check your smoke detector

Devices should be tested monthly

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you're reading this, odds are the smoke detector in your home is due to be tested.

Carrie Proudfit, the Orange County Fire Rescue Department public information officer, visited News 6 at Nine recently to talk about the importance of making sure your home and family are prepared in case a fire ignites.

The average smoke alarm will last for about 10 years but it won't do any good if its batteries are low.

"Sometimes years just go by and you don't realize how old it is," Proudfit said.

That's why Proudfit recommends performing a test once per month to make sure the device is functional.

She recommends placing an alarm in each bedroom, any sleeping area, on each floor of your home and about 10 feet from the kitchen.

If you're a heavy sleeper or suffer from hearing loss, opt for an alarm with a strobe or one that shakes so you'll be alerted when it sounds.

Being alerted to the smoke is of the utmost importance because it only takes about two minutes for a fire to spread, according to Proudfit.

"It's what's in our homes nowadays just tends to ignite quicker and spread quicker," she said.

That's why every second is precious.

If a fire does break out, you and your family need to know how to get out of the home and have a safe spot to meet.

Proudfit said it's crucial that family members, particularly children, are aware of the evacuation plan and know two ways to get out of every room.

"The first thing we want you to do is actually just get out of that house, call 911, get everybody safely out," Proudfit said. "Have a meeting point and call 911."

Sometimes children believe they should hide just like they would in another scary situation but that can actually make things worse. First responders are trained to conduct searches.

If you're not sure whether your home is prepared for a fire, Proudfit recommends going to OCFRD.com and requesting a visit from members of the community risk reduction team.

"They'll come out to your house and they'll do a quick survey and safety inspection. They'll look for things like fire extinguishers and your smoke alarms, other types of alarms that you should have," Proudfit said.

To hear more safety tips from Proudfit, watch the video at the top of this story.

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