Smoke alarms can alert your family of a fire in your home shortly after it starts, they are one of the least expensive safety features in our homes. It is recommended that you have a smoke alarm in each sleeping room and one located within 10' outside the sleeping rooms and at least one on each level of the home.
Like CO alarms, smoke alarms come in various shapes and sizes and are made by several different manufacturers; dual purpose CO and smoke alarms are becoming very popular. When a dual purpose alarm goes off here is a tip to help you tell if it is the fire alarm or the CO alarm. If the alarm omits three (3) beeps within a second of each other, then it is the smoke alarm. If the alarm omits four (4) beeps within a second of each other, then it is the CO alarm.
Like any other mechanical device they do require some simple annual maintenance:
Ionization smoke alarm typically are better at detecting fast flaming fires, which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Examples of fast flaming fires include paper burning in a wastebasket, or a grease fire in the kitchen.
Photoelectric smoke alarm generally are more effective on slow smoldering fires. These are fires that smolder for hours before bursting into flames, such as when a lighted cigarette is dropped onto a couch or bedding.
There also is a dual or double sensor alarm, which is effective at detecting both slow smoldering fires and flaming fires.
For more information about smoke alarms you can go to the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's website.