Functioning fire and smoke detectors — along with a carbon monoxide detector — could ultimately save your life during a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your risk of dying from fire decreases by 55% when there are working smoke detectors in your home. Conversely, three out of five fire-related deaths occur in homes without smoke detectors or those that are no longer active.
Fire and smoke detectors are out of sight and out of mind, so many homeowners often forget their essential maintenance — usually when it’s too late. Other people might not fully understand how fire alarms work and where they’re best installed. This article will help you correctly position fire and smoke detectors in your home for the best fire protection.
Where Do You Put Smoke Detectors in Your House?
Check with your local building authority to determine whether they have existing codes for residential fire and smoke alarms. If not, the NFPA maintains guidelines for correct fire alarm positioning as follows:
- Install fire and smoke detectors inside and outside every bedroom and level of the home, including the basement.
- Formal living rooms, family rooms and stairways should also have fire alarms.
- Install smoke detectors at least 10 feet from kitchen appliances so they aren’t falsely set off while cooking.
- Since smoke rises, always install fire alarms and smoke detectors on the ceiling or higher up on the wall.
- Never install devices near windows or ducts to prevent drafts from interfering with the sensors.
Interconnected fire and smoke detectors in your home provide the best protection against fire — when one goes off, they’ll all go off, so everyone knows to make a quick exit.
Helpful Pointers for Maximum Fire Alarm Protection
Placing fire and smoke detectors appropriately is only one aspect of fire protection. You must also select the correct device system and ensure a secure power source.
Selecting the Right Alarm
Homeowners have multiple options for fire safety devices, including fire detection system which may also detect smoke, heat or a combination of both.
Heat detectors have been around for a long time and can sense heat from potential fire. Depending on the type of heat detector you have, the device might sound if it notices the temperature rising at a particular rate or once the room reaches a fixed thermal reading.
Heat detectors are more acceptable in apartments where they can detect fires quickly in a smaller space. However, since smoke’s noxious gases are more deadly than flames, installing smoke detectors in your home is a much better idea.
Smoke detectors are usually classified as either ionization or photoelectric. Each smoke detector senses different types of fires, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing several of each product or dual sensor alarms containing their two technologies.
Other smoke detectors include multicriteria alarms — systems that utilize photoelectric, ionization and heat sensor mechanisms — and voice alarms. Voice alarms produce conventional alarm beeping sounds and a voice announcement when it identifies smoke.
Of course, with the rapid adoption of home automation, you might decide to purchase smart devices for optimal fire protection. For example, some innovative fire alarms use wifi to pair with smart home hubs, such as Alexa, Google Nest or other connected appliances. These fire and smoke detectors can initiate a shutdown of your smart thermostat and AC unit to prevent smoke circulation throughout your vents.
Be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors, as well. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer — generated by ovens, gas stoves and other fuel-burning appliances — that could pose a severe risk to your household when you least expect it.
Powering the System
Fire and smoke alarms only work when hardwired or powered by batteries. Hardwired fire safety devices look much like battery-operated alarms but use a circuit cable to connect to the electrical box instead of a plug. The cable will always power the gadget unless there’s a blackout. At that point, the system’s backup battery will take over.
Battery-powered smoke alarms are more cost-effective and easy to install. However, you’ll only be protected from a housefire if the batteries work. Since many forget to swap out the batteries, hardwired alarms are considered much safer.
Experts recommend changing smoke alarm batteries yearly — if your device begins to chirp, it’s telling you it’s running low on power. Otherwise, you’ll want to replace the smoke detectors in your home every 10 years.
Protect Your Home With Functional Fire Safety Devices
Homeowners should take fire protection seriously. Installing fire and smoke detectors where they are most effective and ensuring they’re fully operational will protect you and your family from a potentially deadly home disaster.
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