On average, eight people die in a home fire daily in the U.S.—almost 3,000 people yearly. While working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half, roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics.
Newer smoke alarm recommendations and technologies now provide greater levels of home fire protection than ever before. Unfortunately, many are unaware of these advances and lack the recommended residential smoke alarm protection level. Their homes may not be equipped with the appropriate number of alarms or rely on outdated or nonfunctional devices.
ESFI offers the following tips for making sure smoke alarms are installed and working correctly:
- Install Smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
- Interconnection of smoke alarms offers the best protection, so they all sound if one sounds. Manufacturers are now producing interconnected battery-operated alarms.
- Combination smoke alarms with ionization and photoelectric alarms offer the most comprehensive protection. An ionization alarm is more responsive to flames, while a photoelectric alarm is more responsive to a smoldering fire.
- Hardwired smoke alarms with battery backups are more reliable than those operated solely by batteries.
- Purchase smoke alarms from a reputable retailer that you trust.
- Choose alarms that bear the label of a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.
- Install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from cooking appliances to reduce the possibility of nuisance alarms.
- Alarms installed between 10-20 feet of a cooking appliance must have a hush feature to reduce the alarm sensitivity or be a photoelectric alarm temporarily.
- If possible, mount alarms in the center of the ceiling. If mounted on a wall, they should be located 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.
- Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.
- Smoke alarms should be tested once a month by pressing the TEST button.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the annual replacement of batteries. If an alarm “chirps” or “beeps,” indicating low batteries, replace it immediately.
- Occasionally dust or lightly vacuum the exterior of the alarm to remove dust and cobwebs.
- Replace smoke alarms at least once every ten years or according to the manufacturer’s suggestion.
- Never paint over a smoke alarm.