How to Choose and Use Smoke Detectors
Types of smoke detectors
While there are several brands of smoke alarms available, most fall under two categories: ionization and photoelectric. Each one detects different types of fires.
Ionization smoke alarms
These alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Ionization smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, ionizing the air and creating an air current between the plates. If smoke enters, it will disrupt the flow of ions, causing the current to stop and the alarm to activate.
Photoelectric smoke alarms
These are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms aim a beam of light into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. If smoke enters, the light will reflect onto the sensor and cause the alarm to activate.
Which type of smoke alarm is best for you
Since it’s not possible to predict which type of fire you might have in your home, use both types of smoke alarm technologies for the best protection. Combination alarms that use both technologies in a single unit are now widely available, making it easy to detect any type of fire in your home.
If you have any type of hearing disability, there are also smoke alarms designed to alert you to a fire without making noise. Buy smoke alarms with strobe lights that flash or vibrate to let you know when danger is present.
Where to install smoke detectors
According to the USFA, half of home fire deaths occur at night, when most people are sleeping. As a general rule, they recommend that you “hear the beep where you sleep.” This means that you put a smoke alarm in every bedroom within your home so that you can wake up and quickly escape in the event of a fire.
For best protection, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends installing smoke detectors in the following areas of your home:
- Hallways outside of sleeping areas
- The kitchen
- At least one alarm on every level of your home, including the attic and basement
How to install smoke detectors
When smoke alarms are being installed, check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine if they should be placed high on the wall or directly on the ceiling. If you aren’t sure how to properly install them, contact your local fire department’s non-emergency phone number. Many fire departments will help you install battery-operated smoke alarms around your home at no cost.
Smoke detector safety tips
After you install all your alarms, it’s important to maintain them and ensure they’ll work when you need them most. Use these smoke alarm tips to help you keep each smoke alarm functioning:
- Make sure your smoke alarms are interconnected, so if one activates, they all will go off.
- Test your alarms at least once a month by pushing the test button.
Replace batteries twice a year during daylight saving time change.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years, or sooner if they don’t sound an alarm when tested.
If a fire does break out in your home, being alerted by smoke alarms can save your life. Check your smoke detectors today to ensure that everything is in proper working condition. That way, you can reduce your risk of complete destruction and loss in the event of a home fire.
And if the unexpected does happen, know that ServiceMaster Restore is ready to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. Available 24/7 every day of the year, our professionals have the expertise, training and innovative technology to restore your home after a fire. Contact us today to learn more about our fire and smoke damage services.
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