Safe and Simple Smoke Detector Disposal

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smoke detector disposal
Recycling smoke alarms and detectors is the smart thing to do.

Smoke detectors have a limited life span according to a date specified, usually about ten years. That means even if you’re replacing its battery regularly, eventually you’ll need a new smoke alarm. Smoke detectors help you protect your household in case of a fire emergency, so when it’s time to get rid of one, remember to protect the earth. State and local practices for safe smoke detector disposal vary, but we’ve  got some helpful guidelines for you.

There are two different types of smoke alarms and detectors: Photoelectric and ionization. Either type contains plastic and electronic components and usually batteries. The ionization technology contains a very small amount of what is considered radioactive material. This is why many State Radiation Control Programs conduct annual round-ups of ionization smoke alarms similar to the roundup of batteries or hazardous household chemicals. Photo: Mulad

Smoke Detector Disposal Tips

Don’t just throw items away! Pitch in and recycle your smoke alarms and detectors. Recycling smoke detectors helps keep potentially harmful materials out of landfills.

  • Test often. The only way to know if your detector will work when needed is by pressing that test button monthly. If it doesn’t work, it’s time for a new one.
  • Check the label. If you no longer have the User’s Manual or warranty info, look on the product label for a specified date to get an idea of the expected useful life of the smoke detector.
  • Make a call. Your local recycling center will give you updated information about smoke detector disposal and confirm if they accept smoke detectors.
  • Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls, so look for special round-ups and collection programs during that time.
  • Find your brand. The New Hampshire Dept of Environmental Services put together a nice list of brands of smoke detectors and their contact information, including First Alert, one of the most common. Find your smoke detector. The issue of producer responsibility also arises regarding car seat recycling, and is a hot topic with recycling.
  • Ask the store. Some places will take back all brands of smoke alarms and detectors that they sell, so ask where you bought it.
  • Keep recycling. After you’ve removed them from your smoke detector, make sure you recycle batteries too!

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