When it comes to fire safety in your home, fire extinguishers are valuable, but smoke detectors are essential.
If you want the security of knowing your family is safe, you’ll need the peace of mind and protection a smoke alarm offers in the event of a fire. Here are 10 interesting and important facts about smoke detectors so you can keep your family safe.
1. There are different types of smoke alarms
There are two main types of smoke alarms: - Photoelectric smoke alarms: those that use photoelectric detection - Ionization smoke alarms: those that use an ionization for detection
Ionization detectors are more common because they are generally mass produced and typically, it is an inexpensive unit, but the photoelectric detectors are fairly affordable as well.
Ionization detectors are best at detecting flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms are usually more sensitive to smoldering fires. The best idea is to either have a combination of the two types of alarms or find one smoke detection device that utilizes both types of detection.
2. You should test your smoke alarm often
Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month to ensure it is functioning properly. Most alarms have a test button. Simply hold the button for a few seconds and see if the unit's alarm sounds. If you don’t hear it, or it is faint, it’s time to replace your batteries. Keep your family safe by remembering to check these life-saving devices regularly.
3. You should change your batteries at least once a year
If you don’t change your detector's batteries, you’ll likely hear that annoying high-pitched periodic chirp until you do. While the sound is grating, it does an excellent job reminding you when the battery is low, and it is time for a fresh one. If you’re not sure whether or not the battery is dead, test it in a non-safety device.
A good rule of thumb for battery replacement
When in doubt, throw it out. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. It never hurts to give your fire alarm a fresh new battery even if you aren’t sure if the last one is dead. When you replace the batteries, consider writing the date on the new battery with a permanent marker so when it dies, you can see how long it lasted and know approximately how long each battery will work in your particular alarm.
4. You may need more smoke alarms than you currently have
House fires can start anywhere and for the best protection, it’s a good idea to install a smoke detector in every bedroom and each hallway outside of sleeping quarters. Every floor of your home should have a smoke detector.
5. You may need to replace your smoke alarms
Experts recommend you change your smoke alarms about every 10 years. When it comes to your family’s safety, you’ll want to make sure your equipment is functioning well and that you are using the latest technology to warn of fire danger.
6. You should have interconnected smoke alarms
If one alarm sounds, each unit in the home should also sound. If a fire broke out in the middle of the night on the main floor, you would want your family members sleeping in the basement to be alerted as soon as possible so they could quickly escape.
7. It’s best to have a professional install your smoke alarms
You don’t want to place your family’s well-being in the hands of just anyone. Get a trained professional to install your fire alarms correctly so you can rest assured they will function properly and alert your family in the event of a fire.
8. Combination alarms are available
Arguably even more dangerous than a fire is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and tasteless, yet extremely toxic, and therefore very dangerous. It is produced by vehicles and gas-powered furnaces and unsafe levels of it cause hundreds of deaths each year. If possible, look for a fire alarm that also includes a carbon monoxide detector.
9. Some smoke alarms come with a monitoring team attached
Avoid false alarms by looking for an alarm that automatically alerts a monitoring team when it sounds. This may come as part of a smart home security package with multiple products to protect your family. Having a little extra protection and instant professional help onboard never hurts.
10. You should not paint your smoke alarm
Most smoke alarms come with a warning printed directly on them that says “do not paint.” Paint can restrict airflow and cause the alarm to have difficulty detecting a fire.
Any other questions?
Are you wondering which brand of smoke alarm or fire alarm to purchase? Some of the more recognizable brands and alarms include Kidde, the FireX 120v hardwired alarm, and Roost.
The Vivint smoke detector is part of a home security package that connects your smoke detector with other security features, including 24/7 expert professional monitoring, to keep you and your family safe.
For more tips and resources on fire alarms or fire prevention, visit the NFPA National Fire Protection Association.