For more than a year, the TV show “This is Us” had everybody asking: “How did Jack die?”  In the last few weeks some hints appeared.  Rebecca asking Jack to remind her to pick up batteries for the smoke alarms; then the episode closing with a shot of a smoke alarm without a battery.

To no one’s surprise, a crock pot sparked, the house caught on fire and Jack subsequently died.  And while in a pre-Super Bowl spot the actor portraying Jack jokingly forgave the crock pot, what he really needed to do was forgive him and Rebecca for not buying batteries for the smoke alarm.  Still, the show drew to the attention of millions the importance of smoke alarms.  Here are some tips for you to ensure what happened to Jack will not happen to you.

  1. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.
  2. Make sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing company, like Underwriters Laboratories.  
  3. Consider “smart” smoke alarms that tell you where the danger is and automatically turn on interior lights, flash exterior lights and open shades.  These detectors can also send an alert to your phone or other device advising you of a problem when you are not home
  4. Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs.
  5. Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings, because smoke rises.  Wall-mounted alarms should be placed no more than 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  6. Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms.
  7. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.  This can now be done wirelessly.
  8. Do not install alarms near windows, doors or ducts, because drafts might interfere with their operation.
  9. Do not paint smoke alarms.
  10. Test your alarms at least once a month.  It’s simple – just press the test button.  Make sure everyone in your home knows how to do it.
  11. If the alarm takes batteries, change them twice per year. The easiest way to remember is to change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings.
  12. Replace the alarms at least every 10 years.