Is Your Smoke Detector Installed Correctly?
The smoke detector is just one of those things we forget to think about, even though we know we should pay more attention. 90% of homes in the United States have smoke detectors installed, but one study found that 25% to 30% of alarms did not function correctly. This is serious, as a smoke detector installed correctly is one of the most important parts of preventing fire-related deaths.
Is your smoke detector installed correctly? Read on to find out how to install the smoke detector, as well as how to maintain your smoke alarm.
Do You Have Enough Smoke Detectors?
First of all, do you have enough smoke detectors installed in your home? A smoke detector can make all the difference in having enough time to put out or escape a fire in your home. Having enough smoke alarms installed throughout your house is critical in maximizing that escape time. Your home should have smoke detectors installed in the following places:
- Inside every sleeping area
- Outside each sleeping area
- On every level of your home, including the basement
Where Should You Install Smoke Detectors?
If you have a level without bedrooms, install a smoke alarm in the living room and/or near the stairway to upper levels. In the basement, a smoke detector should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs. In the kitchen, install a smoke detector at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances (otherwise, you’ll end up with lots of false alarms).
What Type of Smoke Detector Should You Install?
Interconnected smoke detectors maximize your protection because when one alarm sounds, they all sound. You can do this through hard wiring, or you can use wireless technology. Just be sure that each alarm is compatible with the others.
In addition, choose a combination ionization-photoelectric alarm (or dual sensor) when you can. The ionization will be responsive to flaming fires, while the photoelectric will be responsive to smoldering fires.
The Never-Do List
- Never paint over a smoke detector or affix any type of decoration to it.
- A smoke detector is not installed correctly if it is near a window, door, or duct with a draft.
- Don’t install in rooms that emit steam (bathrooms or laundry rooms).
- Never take the batteries from a smoke detector to replace another item’s batteries.
- Never clean your smoke detector with cleaning sprays or solvent.
- Never install and forget about it. Remember to test your alarms regularly.
A Smoke Detector Installed Correctly Still Needs to Be Tested
You’ve followed all the rules. You’ve purchased the correct smoke detectors, have placed them in the correct locations, and have avoided dangerous mistakes. You’re done, right?
Not so fast. You must regularly test your smoke detectors to be sure they still work properly.
At least once a month, use the test button to make sure the detectors are still working. Set a recurring reminder in your phone so you don’t forget. This is also a good time to remind your children what the alarm sounds like so they will be ready to spring to action in the case of a real fire. If you have interconnected fire alarms, ask family members to go to other rooms to ensure the alarms are going off when tested.
Read the manufacturer instructions for maintaining your smoke detectors, and stay on top of that. Replace the battery immediately if the alarm begins chirping, and plan to replace it every six months to a year otherwise. (Again, a reminder in your phone can make this task easy to remember.)
A smoke detector installed correctly, and maintained thereafter, could save your life. Don’t put it off — check your smoke detector situation today.