April - Smoke Detectors - A Sound for Life

If there were to be a fire in your home tonight, would your family survive? With properly placed and maintained smoke detectors you increase your chances of survival by 50%. In fact, many communities have regulations requiring that at least one smoke detector be installed in homes.

Residential Fire Deaths

Most residential fire deaths occur between 11 pm and 7 am. This is the time of greatest danger, when people are asleep. The primary killer is smoke and poisonous gases which overcome victims as they sleep. From the time a fire breaks out there is a limited amount of time that a person has to escape. With the early warning of a smoke detector, you can be awakened during the early stages of a fire while escape is still possible.

Smoke Detectors

When purchasing smoke detectors for your home be sure they are labeled by a nationally recognized fire testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM). For minimum protection, smoke detectors should be installed outside of each bedroom or sleeping area. It is also suggested that at least one should be placed on the other levels of your home for additional protection. 

Placement of your smoke detector is important. Because smoke rises, the detector should be mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall. If wall mounted, the top of the detector should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. A ceiling mounted detector should be at least 4 inches from any wall. Take care to keep the detector away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. Also, if a hallway leading to bedrooms is more than 40-feet long, a detector should be placed at both ends.


Once you've installed your smoke detectors, their maintenance is very important. Your detector should be tested a minimum of once a month by pressing the test button or using smoke. Replace the batteries according to the manufacturer's recommendation, or a least once a year, using the type of batteries recommended. Because dust and cobwebs can impair the sensitivity of the detector, follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning. Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors can provide you and your family with the necessary early warning to escape a home fire.