Fire is dangerous. It can destroy your property and endanger the lives of your family members. Smoke detectors are your first line of defense against injury and death due to smoke and fire. To protect your home and your family, learn about how smoke detecting devices work and how to test them. Here are a few tips about smoke detectors in your home.
How Does a Smoke Detector Work?
There are 2 basic kinds of smoke detecting devices commonly used in homes: photoelectric and ionization detectors.
A photoelectric smoke detector contains a sensor that receives a signal from a light source. As long as the signal from the light is unbroken, the smoke detector is dormant. When smoke particles obscure the light and break the connection, the alarm will sound.
Ionization smoke detectors create an energy field between two plates within the device. Smoke changes the particles in this energy field and this triggers the detector to sound an alarm.
It is generally recommended that homes have both types of detectors. This way you’ll receive an early alert in the event of a big, blazing fire or a small, smoldering one.
Tips for the Placement of Smoke Detectors in the Home
At a minimum, you should have at least one detector on each floor of your home. Install detecting devices in each bedroom to alert sleeping family members in case a fire breaks out. Additionally, place smoke detectors in the hallway outside of sleeping areas, in the laundry room, and in or near the kitchen.
If you have a problem with frequent false alarms while cooking, install your kitchen detector 10 to 12′ away from any cooking appliance. This will help reduce the chances of the alarm sounding due to normal smoke and steam in the kitchen, but will still keep your family notified in case a fire does occur.
Testing Smoke Detectors in the Home
Every smoke detector in your home should be tested at least once every month. To test the device, press the button. If the alarm sounds the detector is working properly.
Change the batteries in your smoke detecting devices twice per year. A great way to remember this is to replace the batteries when the time changes in spring and fall. Most smoke detectors take 9 V batteries. Keep a supply on hand so you can replace the battery if the device begins to chirp. This noise indicates low battery power in your smoke detector.
Smoke detectors save lives. Remember to check yours monthly and to replace the batteries at least twice every year. You’ll help keep your family safe in case of a house fire.