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Every Home Needs Properly Working Smoke Alarms

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The “beep, beep, beep” of a smoke alarm is one of the best ways to alert you and your family about a fire and allow you to quickly and safely escape the flames and smoke. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that having a working smoke alarm in a home cuts the risk of dying in a fire in half.

So, the big question is: Why do statistics from the NFPA show that no smoke alarms - or no working smoke alarms - are present in 37 percent of home fire deaths? Installing and maintaining smoke alarm is a simple step that can lower the fire death rate in your home by up to 51 percent. When was the last time you tested your smoke alarms?

You have to test your smoke alarm more often than you file your taxes.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urges the public to test their smoke detectors at least once a month, and replace batteries at least twice a year.

Smoke alarms do not have an infinite shelf life.

That’s right. Like the lunchmeat in your fridge, they have an expiration date, usually on the back of the alarm. Replace your alarms when this date expires, or at least every 10 years. (If your alarm doesn’t have one, it’s so old you’re well past due.)

They’re not one-size-fits all.

There are all kinds of smoke detectors. And we’re not talking battery-operated or hardwired here, we’re talking ionization and photoelectric. They detect different kinds of fires, so you need both for fire safety.

Ionization Alarms

Ionization alarms are the most common type of smoke alarm, detecting fires with flames. Though they work well detecting quickly spreading fires (flammable liquids, paper), they can be slow in detecting smoldering fires. That’s where photoelectric alarms offer advantages.

Photoelectric Detectors

Great at detecting smoldering fires such as occur with burning couches, beds, and cabinets, these detectors produce fewer false alarms, but do not detect quickly spreading fires fast enough to be effective.

Combo Alarms

•Both photoelectric and ionization and alarms, packed into a single detector.

Smoke alarms have come a long way in recent years.

There are many more options than your granny had to choose from, such as…


Wireless smoke detectors interact with one another wirelessly, using radio frequency waves, making upping the safety factor with interconnected alarms a breeze.  


Like your smartphone, these app-enabled detectors connect to your internet (and your phone) via Wi-Fi. When triggered, they can be configured to verbally inform you of where smoke was detected for the better planning of escapes, or alert your phone or mobile device of trigger when you’re away. They also make smoke alarm interconnectivity a snap.

Smoke Detector/Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector Combos

Two essential safety features in one, offering a great, space saving solution for homes with combustion heat or appliances. These also come in traditional, wireless, and Wi-Fi models. Caution: Make sure the model you purchase offers both ionization and photoelectric smoke detection in addition to carbon monoxide to avoid spending (and installing) more.

Like chocolate, more is better.

It takes more than one smoke alarm to protect your home against fire. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, including at the top and bottom of stairways, in the hall outside each sleeping area, as well as in each bedroom.

Proper installation is key.

Smoke rises, so install your alarms high on the walls and ceilings. Tossing them on the shoe rack after installing the battery won’t work. Mount high on walls or ceilings. For wall-mounted alarms, keep them no more than 12 inches away from the ceiling. On pitched ceilings, install the detector within three feet of the peak, but not within the apex. Don’t install them near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts may affect their operation. Also, keep them 10 feet from cooking appliances and showers to minimize false alarms. For the best protection, interconnect all alarms. Consult the NFPA for more detailed instructions.

Wish you knew about smoke alarms a little sooner? If you have fallen victim to house fire and water damage, let the professionals at Rainbow Restoration® help return your home to right after a fire. Contact us today.

For Further Reading:

How Does a Smoke Alarm Save Lives?

How Fire Protection Equipment Can Save Your Life

Plan Your Fire Escape

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