What you need to know about Smoke Detectors
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
- The majority of FATAL home fires happen at night, when people are asleep.
- An inexpensive smoke detector placed properly will sound an alarm, alerting you of the potential fire danger. This gives you time to escape safely and reduces your chance of dying in a home fire by half.
Choosing A Detector
- Be sure that the smoke detectors you purchase carry the label of an independent testing laboratory.
- Some alarms run on household current and include battery backup, which require professional installation.
- Some alarms run just on batteries which you can usually install yourself. “Long-life” alarms have “10-year” or lithium batteries that are intended to last the life of the smoke alarm.
- Some alarms use an “ionization” type smoke-sensing system; others use “photoelectric” sensors. Recent studies have shown that your family will be better protected by using an alarm that offers both smoke-sensing systems.
- Some alarms have a hush or silence feature so you can deactivate if cooking fumes or steam set them off. These models will reactivate automatically after 8 to 10 minutes.
- For people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, some alarms flash a strobe-like light.
Placing your Alarms
- Install alarms on every level of your home – including the basement.
- Install an alarm in or outside each sleeping area. Make sure everyone can clearly hear and recognize the sound of all smoke alarms at all times. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so when one sounds, they all sound.
- Studies have shown that some children may not awaken to the sound of a smoke alarm. Know what your child will do before a fire occurs. For more information on this issue, smoke alarms, and escape planning, visit www.nfpa.org/factsheets.
- On floors without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room and/or near the stairways to the upper level. Don’t install alarms closer than 3 feet from a kitchen or bathroom door. Don’t install alarms in locations where the temperature may be too low or too high.
- Mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling because smoke rises.
- Wall mounting: position the alarm 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. Ceiling mounted: position alarm at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall.
- In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the alarm at or near the ceiling’s highest point. Basement alarms should be located near the stairway leading to the floor above.
- Don’t mount an alarm within 3 feet of a forced-air supply register.
Installing and Maintaining your Smoke Alarms
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Install most battery-powered and plug-in alarms using only a drill and a screwdriver. Plug-in alarms must have restraining devices at the plug. Have a qualified electrician install alarms that are hard-wired into your electrical system. Wire alarms together so that if one sounds, they all sound.
- Test alarms monthly. Replace batteries at least once a year (when you change your clocks by an hour in the spring or fall) or when an alarm “chirps” to tell you that the battery is low.
- Replace any alarm that is more than 10 years old.
- Never “borrow” a smoke alarm battery and never paint a smoke alarm.
Free Smoke Detector Checks
Fire District 6 personnel will check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working for free. The department also maintains a limited supply of free battery-powered alarms for those families unable to afford alarms. Firefighters will also install the battery-powered smoke alarms and replace batteries.
For additional information, email the Public Education Coordinator or call us at 360-576-1195.