Home Smoke Alarms

Smoke Detector Placement

It's a Fact: Smoke Alarms Save Lives

The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are asleep. Smoke alarms give you time to escape.

Many of the homes that we visit during the year either do not have batteries in their alarms or they have no alarms at all.  Please contact the fire station if you have questions about smoke alarms or if you need assistance in changing your batteries. We can evaluate your home to determine the best location and how many detectors you will need.

Choosing an Alarm:

  • Be sure the smoke alarm you buy bears the label of an independent testing lab.
  • Some alarms run on household current and include battery backup, which require professional installation.
  • Some alarms run just on batteries, which you can usually install yourself.
  • "Long-life" alarms have "10-year" batteries that are intended to last the life of the smoke alarm.
  • Some alarms have a "hush" button so you can silence them if cooking fumes or steam sets off a "nuisance alarm". These models re-activate automatically after 8-10 minutes.
  • For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, some alarms flash a strobe-like light.

Placement of Alarms:

  • Install alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.
  • Install an alarm in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Ensure everyone can clearly hear and recognize the sound of all smoke alarms at all times. If you sleep with the bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each bedroom so that when one sounds they all sound.
  • Some studies have shown that children may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm. Know what your child will do before a fire occurs.
  • On floors without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room and/or near the stairways to the upper level.
  • Don't install alarms closer than three feet from a bathroom door.
  • Don't install alarms in locations where the temperature may be too low or too high.
  • Use a photoelectric type smoke alarm with a "hush" feature if it is located within 20 feet of the kitchen.
  • Mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling, because smoke rises.

Wall Mounting:

  • Position the top of the alarm 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling.

Ceiling Mounting:

  • Position alarms at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall.
  • In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the alarm at or near the ceiling's highest point.
  • Basement alarms should be located near the stairway leading to the floor above.
  • Don't mount an alarm within three feet to of a forced-air supply register.

Installing and Maintaining Smoke Alarms:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Install most battery-powered and plug-in alarms using only a drill and a screwdriver. Plug-in alarms must have restraining devices at the plug.
  • Have a qualified electrician install alarms that are hard-wired into your house wiring.
  • Never connect an alarm to a circuit that can be turned off from a wall switch.
  • Always save and follow the manufacturer's instruction for testing and maintenance.
  • Test alarms at least monthly.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year, for example, when you set the clocks back in the fall, or whenever an alarm "chirps" to indicate the battery is low.
  • Replace any smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old.
  • Consider installing smoke alarms with a "long life" (10-year) battery. These alarms must also be tested at least once a month.
  • Clean your alarms regularly, following manufacturer's instructions. You can sometimes use a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover.
  • Never paint a smoke alarm.

(This information was taken from the National Fire Protection Association pamphlet entitled "Home Smoke Alarms".)

How to Test your Smoke Alarm:

Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. It can take a few seconds to begin, but a loud ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries.


Smoke Alarm Test

We have new smoke alarms for sale at a cost of $10 each installed, and we also have new "10-year" smoke detector batteries at a cost of $10. Call (610) 372-9621 for more information.