Though we don’t think about them very often, smoke alarms are something that we’re all very much aware of. As soon as you reach the age of three or four, fire safety becomes a recurring topic – one that’ll you be reminded of for the rest of your educational life. It’s strange to consider just how often children are taught about the use of smoke alarms. It’s even stranger when you consider the inertia that slips over many people once they’ve left school and have children of their own.

It is truly shocking how many people don’t follow the fire safety procedures that they were taught at school. It’s galling to find out that more than ninety people die every year, because the batteries in their smoke alarms are flat or simply nonexistent. Yes, that’s right – in this intelligent, informed world there are still people who take the batteries out of their smoke alarms. If you’re smart, you’ll get an Aico smoke alarm – they chirp until you’ve put new batteries into the device.

It’s such an easy mistake to make, but it can be such a deadly one. You might tell yourself that you’re only taking the batteries out until your wife has stopped burning the Sunday roast, but are you going to remember to put them back in again? Chances are, you won’t – your football match, your dinner, your kids will get in the way.

Too few people are aware of the recommended safety rules, when it comes to household smoke alarms, says New York Times journalist Barry Meier. Most believe that the batteries in an alarm simply never run out. Others think that you only have to check the batteries in an alarm once every few years. Both of these things are wholly untrue.

The batteries in your smoke alarm need to be replaced at least once a year. Yes, they can last longer than that but it isn’t always safe to risk it. Each different brand of battery comes with its own life expectancy figure, say the experts at Science Learn. This exact figure can’t ever be known – it depends on a lot of different variables. This is why it’s so important to change the batteries in your smoke alarm every single year. That way, you don’t have to be sure exactly how long your brand is designed to last.

Essentially, the lesson to be learned is that you shouldn’t ever risk your life over the price of a battery or two. They cost next to nothing, so why balk at the notion of replacing them once a year? It could be that you tend to forget and only realise that the batteries in your alarm need replacing, once the device has started to emit a warning noise. State of the art safety products like Aico smoke alarms don’t stop chirping until you’ve taken the old batteries out and replaced them.

That increasingly irritating warning chirp is your alarm telling you that it hasn’t got enough power to protect the household, says expert Katie Hamilton. If it’s screaming at you to change the batteries, you haven’t been checking your alarm regularly enough. Fire safety experts are keen to stress the fact that smoke alarms should be tested once every six months.

It’s not as if it’s difficult. All that you’ve got to do is push the big button marked ‘test’ and wait for the loud noise to begin. If the loud noise doesn’t begin in earnest, your batteries are dead and need to be replaced as soon as possible. If you replace the batteries and your alarm still doesn’t respond, it’s probably best to get another one installed. It’s your life, remember.