More than one-third of fire deaths occur in homes without smoke detectors. Hundreds of people die each year in homes with smoke detectors that don't work. It's important that you not only have a smoke detector, but also that you check and maintain it regularly.
TIP: Smoke detectors should be mounted high on the wall or ceiling while carbon monoxide detectors should be placed 5 feet off the floor near each sleeping area and on each level of the home.
Types of Smoke Detectors
Battery-powered smoke detectors operate on alkaline batteries. The battery should be checked monthly and replaced twice a year. A good time to do this is when you change your clock in the fall and spring.
Hard-Wired without Battery Backup
This type of smoke detector operates on household electrical current. As long as you have electricity, it will function; if your house loses power, it will no longer function. If you have this type you should also install batteryoperated models for back-up.
Hard-Wired with Battery Backup
These are hard-wired models that have battery back-up so the detector will still function in case of power failure. If you have this type, the battery should be changed twice a year.
There are smoke detectors available that have been designed for the hearing impaired. These smoke detectors have strobe lights that, when activated, emit an extremely bright white light or a bed shaker that is able to awaken most people from their sleep.
Make Placement a Priority
- At a minimum there should be a smoke detector in the hallways and corridors between the sleeping areas and the rest of the house and/or a smoke detector in the center of the ceiling directly above each stairway.
- Additional measures include installing smoke detectors on a wall or the ceiling in each sleeping room.
- Because smoke rises, smoke detectors should be mounted high on the wall or ceiling. A ceiling mounted unit should be placed as close to the center of the room as possible, or a minimum of 12 inches from the wall. Avoid installing detectors near air supply duct outlets and windows and between bedrooms and the furnace cold air return. For a wall-mounted unit, the top of the detector should be 6-12 inches from the ceiling.
- Smoke detectors collect dust like everything else in a house. To ensure your smoke detector is clean, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning or use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and cobwebs.
TIP - Smoke Detector Replacement
It is recommended that smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years. At 15 years, there is a 50/50 chance your detector will fail, and almost 100% chance of failure at 30 years.