Today’s homeowners like you need to know smoke alarm facts if you’re going to get the most out of your smoke alarm. There are a lot of details you could know – probably more than you’d ever want to know – but knowing a few basic tidbits of information about these fantastic devices used to save you from unexpected house fires will help you to be better prepared to handle your home security.
What a Smoke Alarm Is For
A smoke alarm is used to detect the presence of smoke in your home. In doing so, it can warn you right away when there’s smoke indicating the presence of a fire.
Why You Need One
Obviously, house fires are not a desirable experience for any homeowner. But the risk is perhaps far greater than you realize: at least twenty thousand people a year are injured in house fires, and these fires result in a death every two and a half hours. Having smoke alarms spaced about your home means that you have electronic devices that are constantly measuring the presence of smoke in your home – 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If you’re awakened in the middle of the night because one of the curtains caught fire from the heater, your and your family’s lives could be saved. Additionally, it’s required by law to have smoke alarms pretty much anywhere you live in the United States, so you should definitely have some installed in your house.
Cost of Smoke Alarms
Most smoke alarms are pretty affordable, starting as low as $7 apiece. You may even be able to get smoke alarms for free or at a reduced price through your local fire department. But if you’re looking for dual smoke alarms or hidden camera smoke detectors for additional home security, you’re looking to spend a fair bit more (probably between $30 and $500).
The power source for smoke alarms is either electrical wiring within the home electrical system or batteries. If it’s run on batteries, it’ll usually be on a 9-volt or lithium battery. Many smoke alarms are electrically wired and then also have a battery for a backup in case the electricity goes out and a fire is started in the house. If you’re going to use the home electricity system to power your smoke detectors, ask a professional electrician to install them for you.
Where to Install
Smoke alarms should be installed at least on every level of the house. They should also be put in every sleeping area or at least near them so that you receive the warning as quickly as possible, giving you time to get out of the house onto safe ground before you’re overcome by the noxious smoke fumes.
These devices do need to be maintained. Regular checkups should include testing every six to twelve months at the very least. Monthly testing is recommended. Batteries (except lithium batteries) should be replaced at least yearly, including backup batteries. You should get a new smoke alarm every 8 to 10 years to replace the old devices.
Let Them Be!
Even though it may be tempting, do not remove the battery of a smoke alarm! Sometimes they will go off when there’s a steamy shower or when you burn toast in the toaster, but if you remove the battery, you could put yourself at the risk of a house fire without warning. If there is a false alarm, you can press the “hush” button, ventilate the area, wave a towel or cookie sheet around the detector, or physically relocate the device so that a false alarm doesn’t happen again.