Smoke Alarms - the Single Most Important Means of Preventing Fatal Fires
Working smoke alarms provide early warning of danger and are the single most important step in preventing fatal fires. They double the chances of surviving a fire. Learn more about smoke alarms and home fire escape planning in this Smoke Alarms Save Lives flyer .
Have Working Smoke Alarms
- On every level of your home
- In hallways outside the bedroom
- At the top of open stairways
- At the base of cellar stairs
- Inside the bedroom for sound sleepers or smokers
Take Care of Smoke Alarms
- Once a month, vacuum or blow out dust from the alarms.
- Push the test button once a month.
- Change alkaline batteries in smoke alarms twice a year. An Easy way to remember is to change the batteries when you change your clocks. Some smoke alarms have 10-year lithium batteries.
- A "chirping" sound indicates that it is time to change the batteries.
- Never disable alarms. Only remove the battery when replacing it.
Lifespan: Replace 10-Year Old Smoke Alarms
If your smoke alarms are ten years old or more it's time to replace them with new ones. There's a label on the alarm with the date of manufacture. If it doesn't have a label, it's already more than ten years old. If you don't know how old they are it's best to install new ones.
When the Smoke Alarm Alerts
- Leave the building.
- Get out; Stay out!
- Go to the family meeting place.
- Dial 9-1-1 from outside or a neighbor's house.
- Home Fire Safety Tips - tri-fold pamphlet on home fire prevention
- Home Escape Planning - pamphlet for families on making and practicing a home escape plan
- Carbon Monoxide Safety - Information on preventing CO poisoning and CO alarms
- U.S. Fire Administration Information on Smoke Alarms
- Smoke Alarm Regulations in Massachusetts - information on smoke alarm regulations in MA and Consumer's Guide when selling one- and two-family homes.
Types of Smoke Alarms
Ionization smoke detectors:
- Use radiation to detect smoke
- Slightly more effective in detecting flaming fires.
- Increased risk of nuisance alarms caused by steam or cooking smoke.
- Use light to detect smoke.
- Slightly more effective in detecting smoldering fires.
- Low voltage systems only use photoelectric detectors.
Smoke alarms installed within 20 feet of kitchens and full bathrooms should be photoelectric only detectors. The risk of nuisance alarms from steam and cooking is lower with photoelectric only detectors. We also recommend that smoke detectors installed outside of 20 feet of kitchens and bathrooms utilize both ionization and photoelectric technologies – either a dual detector (containing both ionization and photoelectric technologies) or two separate detectors (one photoelectric and one ionization).