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Smoke Alarms

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Smoke alarms are one of the least expensive safety features for our homes. A smoke alarm is required for each sleeping room, and within 10 feet outside the room. At least one smoke alarm should be installed on each level of the home. Smoke alarms come in various shapes and sizes and are made by several different manufacturers. Dual purpose smoke and CO alarms are available and becoming popular to be installed in homes. Three beeps indicate a smoke alarm and four beeps indicate a CO alarm.

Key points to ensure your smoke alarms are effective:

  • Replace the battery annually. Daylight savings time is a good reminder.
  • Vacuum around the alarm to remove any dust that might have built up in the unit. A dusty or dirty alarm can cause false alarms. This should be done a few times during the year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are older than 10 years.
  • Test each of alarm monthly to ensure they are working properly.
  • When purchasing multiple smoke alarms for your home, make sure they are all the same brand.
  • Make sure your alarms are properly installed.
  • Identify escape routes in your home and practice using them. Have a designated meeting area, outside, and make sure that everyone in your family knows where it is. Too often firefighters get injured going inside a building looking for someone who isn't there because they were not at the designated meeting area. Once outside the home, do not go back in!

When purchasing a smoke alarm for your home, it is important to know that two types of smoke alarms are available to the public:

  • Ionization smoke alarms are typically 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 alarms are generally 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.

Fire more information about smoke alarms, visit the State Fire Marshal's Office.