Smoke alarms are increasingly important in today’s world. As construction techniques have changed and what we bring into our homes has changed, house fires have begun to burn faster and faster. Today, you often have as little as two minutes to get out of a burning house.
That’s why we encourage every single family to install smoke alarms in their homes! Smoke alarms ensure that you have the maximum amount of time to escape from your home which saves lives. You are four times as likely to survive a house fire when there are working smoke alarms in the home!
To keep your family safe, remember these tips:
- Look for combination smoke alarms. Some smoke alarms are better at detecting fast moving fires (ionization smoke alarms) while others are better at detecting smoldering fires (photoelectric smoke alarms). To best protect your home, you need to detect both. There are now smoke alarms that are both ionization and photoelectric in one alarm so they are better able to detect both fast moving and smoldering fires! You can even find them with a carbon monoxide detector built in for triple threat protection!
- For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are several options for smoke alarms. First, rather than the high pitched noise we all equate with fire alarms, there are now low pitch options since many people begin losing the upper pitches first. Next, there are smoke alarms that still have a sound alarm but also have a visual alarm – a strobe light that goes off with the alarm. Finally, there is a low pitch alarm that comes with a strobe or text message as well as a bed shaker for at night when a strobe might not wake someone up.
- Location, location, location! It’s not just important for real estate, it’s important for your smoke alarms too! Ideally, you should have at least one on each floor of your home, each bedroom should have a smoke alarm of its own with one outside of bedrooms, one in the hall within 21 feet of each bedroom door, and one centered above any staircases. If you can only afford to get one or two at a time, placement is still important! If you can only buy one, place one between the kitchen and the bedrooms. Make sure it is far enough away from the kitchen to not be set off every time you cook! Smoke alarms should be at least 10 feet from any cooking appliances. Smoke alarms should not be placed in locations where cooking fumes, exhaust, steam, frost, or moisture have a tendency to build up, such as the kitchen, garage, and bathrooms as this leads to frequent false alarms.
- Make sure smoke alarms have fresh batteries by testing each detector once a month.
- Replace your batteries as needed. Ionization smoke alarms in Oregon are required to have 10 year batteries. If you have an ionization smoke alarm and the battery stops working, the entire unit must be replaced. Photoelectric, combination, and combination/carbon monoxide alarms are not required to have 10 year batteries. Replace the batteries in these smoke alarms as needed through your monthly testing but at least twice a year when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time. It might seem silly or expensive to change your batteries twice a year but remember, that little device is monitoring your home for danger 24/7! That takes a lot of power. Make sure your smoke alarm has the batteries it needs to protect you and your family. They could be the difference between life and death.
- Replace your smoke alarm once every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
If you need help affording smoke alarms for your home, the American Red Cross can help! Please call 503-528-5783, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up online. A Red Cross will help set up a time for smoke alarms to be installed in your home as well as providing home safety resources for fires and other hazards.