Smoke Alarms

EVERY HOME SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST ONE WORKING SMOKE ALARM Smoke alarms may allow you and your family sufficient time to reach safety by providing early warning in the event of a fire. Many people have neglected to install smoke alarms despite their life-saving potential and low cost. Even those who do have smoke alarms forget that they need some maintenance attention to continue working properly. Smoke alarms are inexpensive protection for your family that doubles the chances of survival.

There are two types of smoke alarms available today: photoelectric and ionization.

When smoke enters a photoelectric alarm, light from a pulsating light source reflectS off the smoke particles onto a light sensor, triggering the alarm. When smoke enters an ionization alarm, ionized air molecules attach to the smoke particles and reduce the ionizing current, triggering the alarm. While photoelectric smoke alarms generally respond faster to smoldering smoke conditions and ionization smoke alarms generally respond faster to flaming fire conditions, both types provide adequate protection against fire. Combination smoke alarms featuring both photoelectric and ionization technology are also available at hardware, department and home improvement stores.


  • Test alarms monthly; keep them free of dust and replace the battery at least once each year.
  • Newer smoke alarms may come equipped with lithium batteries rated for a 10-year service life.
  • Replace all smoke alarm devices after 10 years.
  • Install alarms on every level of your home and next to every sleeping area
  • Some fire safety advocates recommend installing smoke alarms inside every bedroom (sleeping area) if sleeping with the door closed.
  • Never “borrow” a smoke alarm battery for some other use.
  • Make sure everyone knows the sound of an alarm.
  • Plan your escape route and agree on a meeting place outside.



  • Seconds count, plan and practice your escape before a fire occurs. Drill twice yearly with the whole family.
  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • When the alarm sounds, get out fast! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s house.
  • Once out, stay out!