Learning Center

Protect Your Family with Smoke Alarms

smoke alarm safety

These inexpensive devices are on guard 24/7.

One of the best items you can get for your family is a smoke alarm – one that’s installed, working and regularly tested.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 370,000 home structure fires reported in 2011.* These fires caused 13,900 injuries and more than 2,500 deaths. Add to that almost $7 billion in property damage, and the losses are staggering.

Such loss of life could be greatly reduced simply by adding home smoke alarms. According to Underwriters Labs, smoke alarms reduce the likelihood of residential fire-related fatalities by 50 percent.

Protect your family

Smoke alarms are inexpensive, easy to install and always on guard. When smoke is detected, they emit a shrill, piercing alarm to warn you and your family of a fire. This warning buys precious minutes to evacuate and escape injury or death.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, offers the following tips:

  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling of every level of your home – including the basement – and both inside and outside bedrooms.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Never remove smoke alarm batteries to use in games or remote controls.
  • Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
  • If there is a fire, leave your home right away by crawling low under the smoke. Never go back inside.
  • If smoke from cooking makes the alarm sound, turn on a kitchen fan, open a window or wave a towel near the alarm until it stops. Never take the battery out.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year (hint: pick an easy-to-remember date such as a birthday, favorite holiday, Daylight Savings Time, etc.). Note: Some smoke alarms have batteries that last up to 10 years.
  • Replace your smoke alarm if it is more than 10 years old.
  • If you rent, talk to your landlord about placing working smoke alarms in your home. You still need to periodically replace the battery.


In addition to the basic types of smoke alarms, there are some made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate.

*Most current data available. Home structures are dwellings, duplexes, manufactured homes, apartments, townhouses and rowhouses.

Take Stock of Your Dreams

With our Web-based Home Inventory Tool.

Discover Dreamvault