While 96% of homes have smoke alarms according to the National Fire Protection Association, many of the fire alarms in these homes don’t work. Almost half of the fire related deaths in the U.S. could have been avoided if only the smoke detectors had been working.
Make sure that your smoke alarms are working: Test them monthly. If they don’t work, try replacing the batteries. If they still don’t work, then replace the entire smoke detector. When the alarm chirps, be sure to replace the battery. Smoke detectors are also available with 10 year, non-replaceable lithium batteries. The prices are comparable to smoke detectors that use alkaline batteries, with the advantage that elderly or people with physical limitations don’t need to change them each year. Make sure to keep track of when these types of smoke detectors need replacing.
There are also smoke detectors that are hardwired into the home’s electrical circuits. In rural areas (like ours), the battery operated smoke alarms may be better choices, because during winter storms, we lose power on a regular basis.
There are two different types of detectors: Ionization photoelectric. Ionization detectors are the smaller most economical of the two. Optical smoke detectors are more expensive but are more effective at detecting the larger particles of smoke produced by slow burning fires such as smouldering foam-filled furniture. (from smoking in bed!)
For the hard of hearing, smoke alarms are available with flashing lights. These are often seen in office buildings are very effective for someone who may not be able to hear the regular alarms.
If you have questions about your smoke alarms, most fire departments will do free or low cost inspections.