Smoke alarms are the most important safety features of your home. Properly installed, working smoke alarms will give you the early warning you need to safely escape from a fire.
Choosing an Alarm
- Be sure that smoke alarms carry the label of an independent testing lab.
- Smoke alarms can run on batteries or on household currents.
- Smoke alarms have different sensor technologies:
- Ionization Smoke Alarms- More effective against fast-flaming fires- fire which consume materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources of these fires may be paper fires or kitchen fires.
- Photoelectric Smoke Alarms- More effective against slow smoldering fires (fires which smolder for hours before bursting into flame.) Sources of these fires include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.
- Combo Units- Ionization/Photoelectric are available and provide early warning of both types of fires.
Where to Install Alarms
- Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement and in/near every sleeping area. Ensure that all members of your family can hear it.
- Mount alarms high on a wall or on top of the ceiling. Position wall-mounted alarms with the top of the alarm 4-12 inches (10-30 centimeter) from the ceiling.
- Position ceiling-mounted alarms at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) away from the nearest wall.
- Don’t install smoke alarms near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with its operation. The moving air can blow smoke away from the alarm’s sensor.
- To avoid false alarms, keep smoke alarms at least ten feet from stoves and steamy showers.
How to Install Alarms
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions using a drill and screwdriver.
- Plug-in alarms must have restraining devises so they cannot be unplugged by mistake.
- Hard-wire alarms need to be installed by a qualified electrician.
- Never connect a smoke alarm to a circuit that can be turned off from a wall switch.
- Test smoke alarms once a month by pushing the “test button.”
- Install new batteries at least once a year.
- Clean smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm’s cover.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
Alarms for the Hearing impaired
- Smoke alarms for the hearing impaired have a built in strobe light. The alarm has both an audible and visible signal and can be mounted in ceilings and walls.
For more information on smoke alarms, contact 703.228.4644 or by e-mail.