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Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Why should I have a working smoke alarm?

Test Smoke AlarmA properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the first thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Home fire sprinklers can also alert you, but are a few seconds slower than smoke alarms. Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

What types of smoke alarms can I buy?

Installing a Smoke AlarmThere are many brands of smoke alarms on the market, but they fall under two basic types:ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms detecting different types of fires. Since no one can predict what type of fire might start in their home, the USFA recommends that every home and place where people sleep have:

  • Both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms. OR
  • Dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.

There are also alarms for people with hearing loss. These alarms may strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to alert those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

What powers a smoke alarm?

Smoke alarms are powered by battery or by your home’s electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium (“long-life”) battery. Alarms that get power from your home’s electrical system, or “hardwired,” usually have a back-up battery that will need to be replaced once a year.

Are smoke alarms expensive?

Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save.

[table caption=”Estimated Smoke Alarm Cost” width=”100%” colwidth=”” colalign=”left|left”]
Alarm Type,Cost
Ionization and photoelectric,$6 and up
Dual Sensor,$24 and up
Smoke alarms with a microprocessor (faster to alert – fewer false alarms),$30 and up
Radio frequency/wireless (communicate from one to the next without wires),$40 and up
[/table]

Where do I put smoke alarms in my home?

  • Put smoke alarms on every floor of your home. Also, in every bedroom and in the hallway outside of each sleeping area.
  • Choose smoke alarms that communicate with each other, so that if one alarm sounds they all will.
  • Place smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the best place for your alarm.
  • Only qualified electricians should install hardwired smoke alarms.

How do I take care of my smoke alarm?

Replace Batteries on Smoke AlarmTesting Smoke Alarm 2Is your smoke alarm still working? A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all.

A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and regularly maintained. Maintain your smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Below are some general maintenance tips.

Smoke alarm powered by a 9-volt battery
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Replace the batteries at least once every year.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.
Smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium (or “long-life”) battery
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Since you cannot (and should not) replace the lithium battery, replace the entire smoke alarm according tot eh manufacturer’s instructions.
Smoke alarm that is hardwired into your home’s electrical system
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Replace the backup battery at least once every year.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Waving Towel Under Smoke DetectorWhat do I do if my smoke alarm sounds while I’m cooking?

Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking! If a smoke alarm sounds while you’re cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam, do not remove the battery. You should:

  • Open a window or door and press the “hush” button.
  • Wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air.
  • Move the entire alarm several feet away from the kitchen or bathroom.