Smoke Alarms Save Lives!

— Written By Trudy Pickett and last updated by

A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 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 result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

It cannot be stated definitively that one is better than the other in every fire situation that could arise in a residence. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different, yet potentially fatal fires, and because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the US Fire Administration recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with:

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

In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

Smoke alarms are powered by battery or they are hardwired into the 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. A backup battery is usually present on hardwired alarms and may need to be replaced periodically.

Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save. Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms cost between $6 and $20. Dual sensor smoke alarms cost between $24 and $40.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.

Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible.

A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and maintained. Depending on how your smoke alarm is powered (9-volt, 10-year lithium, or hardwired), you’ll have to maintain it according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms powered by a 9-volt batteries should be tested monthly. The batteries should be replaced once a year and the entire unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.

Smoke alarms powered by 10-year lithium batteries should be tested monthly and the entire unit should be replaced according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms that are hardwired into the home’s electrical system should be tested monthly. The backup battery should be replaced at least once per year and the entire unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.

Source: http://www.usfa.fema.gov

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Written By

Photo of Trudy PickettTrudy PickettRetired (252) 527-2191 (Office) trudy_pickett@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Oct 30, 2015
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