There are at least two recent reports of smoke alarms going off in northwest Iowa homes, though no smoke or fire was present. One case was in LeMars where the intense heat is being blamed for the smoke alarm’s malfunction. Omaha Fire Captain Jim Gentile  says if the device is cluttered with dust, dirt or cob webs, it’s possible just the heat can trigger it.

“What you want to do is open up the smoke alarm, where you usually place the battery, and gently wipe it down if you see anything in there like that,” Gentile says. “I haven’t had a whole lot of reports of that happening but it sure can happen.” While the walls of the homes were hot, there was no smoke and no flames. Smoke detectors are usually reliable devices and Gentile says these are odd occurrences.

“They generate their alarms off of smoke particles going into the smoke alarms,” he says. “We have a rise in alarms but they are mostly for businesses where they detect a rapid rate of a temperature rise and they are set off by rising temperatures.” He says the biggest factor for a smoke alarm is to change the batteries every six months or so, and to buy new smoke alarms every ten years.