Tips: Installing And Testing Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms can save your life in a fire, but only if you have enough of them and you know they work. Do you have enough smoke alarms in your home? How old are they? Are they in the right places? Do they have a new battery in them? Without working smoke alarms, you and your family may not wake up in time to get to safety if a fire breaks out in your home. They are extremely important. Make sure your family is safe:

Putting Up Your Smoke Alarms

  • Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Make sure the alarm is away from the path of steam from bathrooms and cooking vapors from the kitchen. These can cause a “false alarm” when the alarm goes off but there is not a fire.
  • Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts. They will not work right in these places.

Have Smoke Alarms That Work

  • Make sure there is a smoke alarm on every floor of your home, especially where people sleep. This includes the basement. If possible, put an alarm inside every bedroom too.
  • Test your smoke alarms once a month. Push the test button until you hear a loud noise.
  • Put a new battery in your smoke alarms once a year. Put in a new battery if your alarm makes a “chirping” sound. This means the power is low.
  • If your smoke alarms are more than 10 years old, get new smoke alarms.

When You Buy New Smoke Alarms

  • Get enough to cover every level of your home and every bedroom.
  • If you can, get “interconnected” smoke alarms. When one alarm goes off, they all sound. This means the alarm near you will go off sooner. It gives you more time to get your family outside to safety.
  • There are two kinds of smoke alarms – photoelectric and ionization. If possible, get some of each kind or buy “combination” smoke alarms that have both types of sensors.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms have been tested for safety by a laboratory. Look for a mark on the box such as ETL, UL or CSA.

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