According to statistics generated by the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003 and 2006, about two out of every three fire-related deaths (66%) occurred in homes without a working smoke detector. A working smoke detector will be your best protection against death or severe injury in the event a fire starts in your home, monitoring the area around the detector all day and all night every day for smoke.
Most smoke alarms use easily-available nine-volt transistor radio batteries that are available at nearly any store, and should be changed at least once per year. It is recommended to change these batteries twice a year when the time changes to and from Daylight Savings Time.
Some smoke detectors are equipped with a newer style lithium ion batter which will power the detector for up to ten years without having to change the battery. The batteries in these are non-replaceable so the entire detector must be discarded and replaced when the battery becomes low.
Some smoke detectors may be powered by household electricity only. In the event of a power failure, your smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide) detectors may not be working. Install battery-powered detectors to supplement your existing detectors to insure you have continuous coverage.
Detectors should be installed on every level of your home. Many people choose to install additional units in the hallway outside the bedrooms or in their children's room. Since many fatal fires start during the late-night or early hours of the morning, it is recommended that they be placed near the sleeping areas of the house.
Since smoke and heat generally tends to rise to the highest point in the room, smoke detector placement is critical to achieving early warning. Follow the instructions that come with the detector in choosing the best location.
There are two types of smoke detectors: photoelectric and ionization. Both are adequate and use different technology to detect different and distinct types of smoke and fire. Therefore, it is recommended that you have one of each type installed in your home on each level, or use a dual-sensor type smoke alarm which has both types of detection built-in to one detector.
For those who are hearing or vision impaired, there are detectors that activate not just with sound but with flashing strobe lights or a vibrating sensor.
Smoke alarms cost between around $10-20 for a single sensor type (either photoelectric or ionization type) or from around $25 to $50 for a detector with both sensor types built-in. This is a very reasonable cost considering the peace of mind that should be gained from having a properly installed and configured smoke detector on every floor of your home.
If units are available, the Monroe Fire Department will install a basic-type detector in your home for free. Contact our administrative offices at 329-2474 for more information during business hours, or our on-duty Deputy Chief at 329-2491.
Finally, smoke alarms are only one key component in home fire safety. Remember to practice exit drills in the home, have fire extinguishers available where necessary, and review fire safety rules for the home, especially during the holiday season where there are more fire hazards present, such as a dry natural tree or paper wrapped presents.