Smoke Detectors FAQS
Why Should My Home Have Smoke Alarms?
They are a very important means of preventing house and apartment fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal — so you and your family can escape. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family, and your home.
What Types of Smoke Alarms Are Available?
There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.
- Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs.
- Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires.
- Dual sensor smoke alarms combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit.
Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms.
In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.
Where Should Smoke Alarms Be Installed?
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or in the early morning. For extra safety, install smoke alarms both inside and outside sleeping areas. Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Where Can I Get Smoke Alarms?
Many hardware, home supply, or general merchandise stores carry smoke alarms. If you are unsure where to purchase one, or cannot afford one, contact the Hazelwood Fire Department at 314-731-3424.
How Do I Install My Smoke Alarm?
If your smoke alarms are hard wired, that is wired into the electrical system, you will need to have a qualified electrician do the initial installation or install replacements. For battery powered smoke alarms, all you will need for installation is a screw driver. Some brands are self adhesive and will easily stick to the wall or ceiling where they are placed.
For all smoke alarm installations, be sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions because there are differences between the various brands. If you are uncomfortable standing on a ladder, ask a relative or friend for help. If you have problems installing or changing the batteries of the smoke detector, contact the Hazelwood Fire Department at 314-731-3424
When Should I Change The Batteries?
When you change your clock for daylight savings time, change your smoke detector batteries.
Why Is It Chirping?
If your smoke alarm starts making a “chirping” noise, replace the batteries and reset it.
How Do I Keep My Smoke Alarm Working?
If you have a smoke alarm with batteries:
- Smoke Alarms powered by long-lasting batteries are designed to replace the entire unit according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- In standard type battery powered smoke alarms, the batteries need to be replaced at least once per year and the whole unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
- In hard-wired, battery back up smoke alarms, the batteries need to be checked monthly, and replaced at least once per year. The entire unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
What if the Alarm Goes Off While I’m Cooking?
Then it’s doing its job. Do not disable your smoke alarm if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the alarm after cooking. Instead clear the air by waving a towel near the alarm, leaving the batteries in place. The alarm may need to be moved to a new location. Some of the newer models have a “hush” button that silences nuisance alarms.
How Long will my Smoke Alarm Last?
Most alarms installed today have a life span of about 8-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase with a marker on the inside of your alarm so you will know when to replace it. Some of the newer alarms already have the purchase date written inside. In any event, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement.
My Smoke Alarm Is Hard Wired, Do I Need The Batteries Too?
Yes. In an emergency your electrical system may no longer work and the smoke detector needs the battery backup to alert you to danger. It’s important to test every smoke alarm monthly and replace the batteries with new ones at least once a year.
For more information please follow the link to the NFPA's website:https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Smoke-alarms/Installing-and-maintaining-smoke-alarms