Home Smoke Alarms

Working Smoke Alarms save lives

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Messages from the US Fire Administration. 

-Choose interconnected smoke alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.

-Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Put alarms on every level of the home.

-Make sure your smoke alarms work. Your family is not safe if they can't hear the smoke alarms.

-Test smoke alarms every month and replace 9-volt smoke alarm batteries at least once every year.

-Smoke alarms do not last forever. Get new smoke alarms every 10 years.

-When you hear a smoke alarm, you may have less than 2 minutes to get everyone outside and safe.


Where do I put smoke alarms in my home?

  • Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
  • Put alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Put 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.

Some fire departments will install battery-operated smoke alarms in your home at no cost. Contact your local fire department's nonemergency phone number for more information.

Pictograph of Smoke Alarm Placement

What kind of smoke alarms should I buy?

 

There are many brands of smoke alarms on the market, but they fall under 2 basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms detect different types of fires. Since no one can predict what type of fire might start in their home, the U.S. Fire Administration 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.

Choose interconnected smoke alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.

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


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To request your free smoke alarm from the American Red Cross's "Sound the Alarm" campaign fill out the form at the link below.

Request Free Smoke Alarm Here


- Mounting Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors should be mounted high on the wall or ceiling.  If mounted on the wall, position the top of the detector 4 to 12 inches away from the nearest wall and within 3 feet of the door inside the bedroom.  If mounted on the ceiling, position detectors at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall and within 3 feet of the door inside the bedroom.  If mounted in open stairways, position the detector anywhere along the path smoke would travel up the stairs. If mounted in closed stairways, position the detector at the bottom of the stairway.  Do NOT mount a detector near a window, outside door or forced-air register.

- Maintaining Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly for proper operation.  It is recommended that you install new batteries when the clocks are set back in the fall and ahead in the spring.  Replace any detector that is more than ten years old.


- Smoke Alarms for the Hearing Impaired

There are smoke alarms and alert devices that alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These devices include strobe lights that flash to alert people when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers designed to work with your smoke alarm also can be purchased and installed. These work by shaking the pillow or bed when the smoke alarm sounds. These products can be found online and in stores that sell smoke and CO alarms.
Make sure to choose smoke alarms and accessories for people who are deaf or hard of hearing that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. It’s also good practice to sleep with your mobile phone and your hearing aids or implants close to your bed.
What about my elderly parents living in my home, how can I help them?
Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
Some tips:
Install a bedside alert device that responds to the sound of the smoke and CO alarms. Use of a low-frequency alarm can also wake a sleeping person with mild to severe hearing loss.
Sleep with your mobility device, glasses, and phone close to your bed.
Keep pathways like hallways lit with night lights and free from clutter to make sure everyone can get out safely.
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