Smoke Detector Safety Tips – is Your Life Worth at Least $10.00?


Smoke Detector Safety Tips

Check required smoke detector locations

Smoke detector safety tips - Vocal Smoke DetectorSmoke detector is a very inexpensive and extremely important type of a life saving device, but one of those we tend to forget about, or sometimes disconnect when they start chirping / calling for a new battery.

Follow the smoke detector safety tips and improve your chances of surviving a fire – don’t you think your life is worth $10.00?

Smoke detectors began their journey into our lives in 1890 (as a fire alarm), and evolved into residential, commercially available alarms in United States type between 1969 and 1971… for $125.00 a piece. During the next few years, technology advanced significantly making smoke detectors much cheaper and available basically for everyone (Smoke alarm history at Wikipedia).

Smoke detector safety tips – available smoke detector types:

– ionization smoke detector responds to invisible by-products of combustion (burning process)

– photoelectric smoke detector responds to visible by-products of combustion (burning process) 

– ionization / photoelectric combination devices

Which of the above is better?

#1 of my smoke detector safety tips:

Use both (either both types simultaneously or combination units), simply because they respond with different time delay to hazardous conditions, and sometimes that extra few seconds differential might save your life – an independent study performed by concluded that sometimes the ionization smoke detectors don’t give people enough time to escape.

Warning – recall on Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector Combo Alarm – FireX Branded 10000 Series

Warning – recall on Digital Security Controls FSA and FSB Series Smoke Detectors

Warning – recall on Tyco Fire & Security Recalls Smoke Detectors for Replacement

Warning – recall on First Alert® Smoke Alarms and Combination Smoke/CO Alarms Please let me know, if there’s anything else

#2 of the smoke detector safety tips :

Choose the correct placement for the smoke detector. If you didn’t, read carefully my post –  smoke detector location, it is as important as having the smoke detector installed at all. Overdoing it, putting more than required shouldn’t be an issue, so for all of you living in Chicago – overdo it! For a few extra bucks, give yourself more protection and install extra smoke detectors in every bedroom (City of Chicago doesn’t require such installation).

#3 of the smoke detector safety tips

Check with your Local Code Enforcement Division to ensure that you have at least the minimum required in this particular jurisdiction, use my post (link above), this Smoke Detector User’s Guide or one that came with your device to determine proper location.

#4 of the smoke detector safety tips

Smoke Detectors / Alarms should be installed on every level of your home (staircases and hallways), including basement and habitable / finished attic (some jurisdictions apply this to the attic in which you can stand up). Additional installation in each and every bedroom (specially if you sleep with the door closed) is required in most jurisdictions, but not in the City of Chicago (it is highly recommended, though)

Smoke detector safety tips #5

Smoke Detectors should be mounted high on walls or ceiling (smoke naturally rises up), but never inside so called “dead air space” which is 4″ from the ceiling / wall joint in both directions, and no lower than 12″ from the ceiling if mounted on the wall

Smoke detector safety tips #6

Try to mount Smoke Detectors in such manner that you’ll avoid vapors from the bathroom and kitchen, to prevent false alarms

Smoke detector safety tips #7

Do not place Smoke Detectors (if possible) near windows, doors and air circulating registers (some jurisdictions are very strict about this), because drafts from those sources might compromise proper response to emergency condition

Smoke detector safety tips #8

I explain in detail this next extremely important task in Smoke detector maintenance
The basics are:

  • test smoke detectors every week (when you push test button, loud noise should be heard within the few seconds)
  • change batteries at least once a year, or as soon as they start making periodical short beeps

If you have a security system attached smoke / fire detection devices, consult with the service provider prior to testing,  you don’t want to pay fire dept. for a false alarm


Smoke alarm testing schedule sheet to print and place it in your home Click on the image (link opens in a new window) and print your smoke alarm testing schedule for the entire year.

Put this smoke alarm testing reminder on your refrigerator, message board… whatever, just remember to do it often!

You can involve your kids into the smoke alarm testing and have them mark the schedule every week.


Smoke detector safety tips #9

install interconnected devices if possible, the great thing about them is that if one detects smoke, they will all signal it together (there are wireless and hard wired Smoke Detectors that work in such manner)

Change Smoke Detectors every ten years, or earlier if it becomes necessary – they do have a expiration date! This was #10 of my smoke detector safety tips – please, do follow.

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