Smoke Detector Safety

Smoke alarms have been proven to increase the chances of survivor by giving residents additional time to get out of the house, however, many residents do not have the appropriate number of working smoke alarms in their home which leaves them under protected. This is a major issue as the home is the place you are most likely to die in a fire as 85% of all fatal fires occur in a residence. That's close to 2,650 people losing their life in the United States each year as the result of a fire in their home.

Installing smoke alarms throughout the home increases the chances of surviving a fire. Additionally, installing alarms strategically enables residents to maximize the benefits of different alarm features and reduce nuisance alarms that can temp people to forgo protection. On average, families have less than three minutes from the time the first smoke alarm sounds to escape a fire. The sooner an alarm is heard, the more time there is to respond.

Smoke Detector Safety

The City of Burlington Fire Department is urging you to be sure that your smoke alarms are equipped to help protect your family from fire by putting the following tips into action:

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home (including the basement), outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms. Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
  • Interconnection of smoke alarms is highly recommended; when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do. (This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.)
  • There are two types of smoke alarm technologies - ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires - like a pan fire or the smoke from cooking. A photoelectric alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires - like a cigarette, overheated wiring or something hot like a space heater. Install both types of alarms in your home or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms that take advantage of both technologies.
  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button. If an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • All smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and those that are hard-wired alarms, should be replaced when they're 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of fire related deaths in half. Unfortunately, many homes have smoke alarms that just don't work. In fact, according to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. About one in five of smoke alarm failures were due to dead batteries.

Homeowners should especially make sure they have alarms every bedroom or just outside the bedroom in the hallway. According to a recent report by the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • More than half (55%) of all home fire fatalities occur in the bedroom.
  • More than a third (35%) of the victims were asleep at the time of the fire.
  • Half of all home fire fatalities occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when most people are asleep.
  • Placing smoke alarms in bedrooms as well as in hallways could increase a family's escape time by up to 15 minutes, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Properly installing and maintaining your smoke detectors will help keep you and your family safe.