Smoke alarms save lives! It is the single most valuable lifesaving device you can have in your home. An operable smoke alarm more than doubles your chances of surviving a fire.
We assist all residents who need assistance with smoke alarm installation and battery replacement. Our members continue to visit schools and attend community events to promote alarms and conduct door-to-door canvases in residential neighborhoods to make sure our citizens are protected.
Keep your smoke alarm working! It’s up to you to make sure your smoke alarm will provide a lifesaving early warning in the event of a fire.
Types of Alarms
There are generally two types of smoke alarms, photoelectric and ionization. Both are suitable for use in your home. Photoelectric alarms are the most reliable for smoldering fires which may occur in bedrooms or sitting rooms. Ionization alarms are the most reliable for detecting flaming fires, which may occur in the kitchen or garage. Combination smoke alarms featuring both photoelectric and ionization technology also are available.
- Review the packaging and the device to verify it has been tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Utilize alarms that are connected to the household electricity and include a battery backup.
- Install "interconnect" alarms so when one activates, all devices activate.
- Some alarms include a recordable voice announcement that may be helpful in waking children.
- Strobe light features and bed shaker options are available for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
- Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current and should be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire’s location, this provides an early warning and increases your escape time.
- Some children and the elderly may not readily awake to the sound of the smoke alarm. Install interconnected alarms, with a device in each bedroom, to increase the potential they will hear the alarm.
Review the manufacturers installation instruction for your alarms. Generally, you should:
- Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises).
- Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall.
- Wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to twelve inches below from the ceiling.
- Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, ceiling fans, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
- If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling’s highest point.
Consider these tips when installing alarm:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area.
- New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
- If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
- If you, or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration and/or sound.
Maintenance & Testing
- Test alarms monthly to verify operation.
- Replace batteries in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations, but not less than annually.
- Check the date - most alarms are only designed to operate for ten years.
- Utilize a vacuum to periodically clean the dust and debris from the edge of the alarm.
- Never attempt to open “sealed” smoke alarms, these were not intended to be disassembled and it may make the alarm inoperable.
- Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
- Make sure everyone in your home can recognize and be awakened by the sound of the smoke alarm.
Smoke alarms frequently are set off by bathroom steam or cooking vapors. Rather than take the battery out of your alarm, do the following:
- Quiet the alarm by pushing the "HUSH" button, if equipped.
- Open windows and turn on vent fans to clear the air.
- Consider relocating the alarm farther away from the cooking area or bathroom.
- Consider installing a photoelectric or combination photoelectric/ ionization type alarm. The photoelectric and combination type alarms are less sensitive to cooking smoke.