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Take Advantage of Your Smoke Detectors - Read These 5 Tips

Feb 26, 2016|

Smoke alarm

Nearly every home in America has a smoke detector and fire alarm simply for personal fire safety. Designed to detect the initial warning signs of fire, smoke detectors are an essential protective measure against one of the largest devastations a home can face. Since a home fire has the potential to permanently damage your property as well as harm members of your family, smoke alarms that alert at the first indication of trouble can be lifesaving.

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Take a look at these five fire safety tips to make the most of your smoke alarms and do right by your home.

1. Strategically place your smoke detectors

There are many places throughout your home that can accommodate a smoke alarm, making it important to strategize. Place fire alarms throughout the home in places where fires are most likely to occur, such as in the laundry room or basement and above the stove.

2. Have enough devices for your home

One smoke detector is simply not enough for a multi-level family home. If a fire starts in the kitchen while you're cooking and your fire alarm is on an upper floor, you may not notice until it’s too late. A reasonable guide to protect your family is to install at least one smoke detector per floor to ensure every incident is recognized as soon as possible. The smoke alarms can also give family members an early warning to escape if needed in the event of a home fire.

When determining how many smoke alarms you need in your home and questioning is a smoke detector enough protection, be sure to consult your local code requirements to determine the right amount of adequate protection for your home. The National Fire Protection Association may also have some helpful guidance. Also, if you get a Vivint Smoke Detector, you’ll be able to sync it with the rest of your Vivint system.

3. Download the Vivint app

The Vivint app is an invaluable tool for protecting your home. Providing up-to-the-minute coverage on everything happening both inside and outside your house, you can always make sure you’re apprised of any issues. The app can also issue email and text alerts when the status of any home device changes, ensuring you know what’s going on, even if you’re away from home.

Notification from Vivint app on an iPhone

In addition to monitoring smoke alarms, the app can also monitor carbon monoxide detectors. A carbon monoxide sensor is another important safety feature for your home, detecting the toxic, odorless, and colorless gas. Many types of carbon monoxide detectors plug into the wall, drawing power from the electrical outlet. The wireless Vivint carbon monoxide detector is battery operated and hardwired into a wall.

4. Test device batteries regularly

As with all battery powered electronic devices, the batteries in smoke alarms will die after prolonged use. Although some batteries claim to be long-lived, most must be changed every year or two to ensure adequate protection and prevent nuisance alarms. A fire alarm without working backup batteries will not function properly in case of a fire, leaving you and your family vulnerable when you need help most.

Similar to a smoke alarm, the battery in a carbon monoxide sensor needs to be periodically changed.

Carbon Monoxide alarm

5. Ensure your devices are connected to a central monitoring station

Many people who install security systems don’t bother to swap out smoke detectors. Although retail smoke alarms will announce the presence of smoke appropriately, they will not notify emergency personnel or send you alerts in case of a fire. A Vivint smoke detector is connected to our alarm monitoring which notifies emergency services as soon as signs of fire are detected, ensuring you get help as soon as you need it.

Vivint sky patrol panel

If you already have hardwired smoke detectors installed, you can install a Vivint FireFighter device, which is a battery operated sensor that is placed within six inches of an existing smoke alarm and listens for the alarm to sound. If a smoke alarm goes off, the FireFighter sensor notifies the Vivint Smart Hub which sends a notification to your phone and alerts emergency services.

While you're probably familiar with what a smoke detector looks like, you may be less familiar with how it works. There are two common types of smoke detectors: photoelectric smoke alarms and ionization smoke alarms.

Smoke alarm on a wood paneling

Photoelectric smoke detectors vs. ionization smoke detectors

Inside a photoelectric smoke detector, light is shined across a container and avoids a sensor. When smoke enters this container, the light hits the smoke and reflects light onto that sensor. When this happens, the alarm is triggered and the alarm sounds. The advantage of a photoelectric smoke alarm is it usually can detect a smoldering fire before it jumps to flames and gives you an early warning that something is wrong.

The other common type of smoke detector is an ionization smoke alarm. In these detectors, radioactive material is placed between electrically charged surfaces, which creates ionization and an electric current. As smoke particles enter the detector, it interferes with the current and triggers the alarm. Ionization smoke alarms are commonly found in kitchens because they respond well to flaming fires commonly caused by a cooking appliance or other fire starting appliances.

If you want to simplify things, you can also purchase dual sensor smoke detectors which give you the best features of ionization and photoelectric alarms.

Vivint smoke detectors

Vivint smoke detectors are battery operated and designed to detect both smoke and rapid changes in heat, giving you the best possible forewarning in case disaster strikes.

Frequently asked questions about smoke detectors

If you still have questions about smoke detectors, don’t worry. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about smoke detectors so you can be in the know when it comes to protecting your home. 

Do smoke detectors have lights?

Some smoke detectors do have LED lights to indicate that they are on and working. 

Are there special batteries for smoke detectors?

It depends on the smoke detector. 9v batteries were used in the past, but today it’s common for smoke detectors to run on AA or AAA batteries. The Vivint Smoke Detector uses 3 AAA batteries.

How often do you need to change batteries in smoke detectors?

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends changing the batteries at least one to two times per year. They also suggest testing your smoke detector at least once a month.

What are the best smoke detectors?

There are a number of smoke detectors on the market. The Vivint Smoke Detector is one of the best because it integrates with your Vivint system.  

What is the purpose of smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors detect smoke and sound an alarm, often alerting homeowners of a dangerous home fire.

Get a Vivint smoke detector and system for the best protection

Your family deserves the best protection possible.

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