Smoke Detectors: 5 Things To Know

What To Know About Smoke Alarms

Updated November 4, 2018 . AmFam Team

In the event of a fire, smoke alarms can save your life. Read our list of tips to help make sure your smoke detectors are where they need to be and working properly.

If you have smoke detectors in your home, you already know how important they are for keeping you and your family safe from the unexpected. But having them is only half the battle — to make sure your family stays safe when an unexpected fire happens, you have to understand how your smoke alarms work, check them regularly and make sure they’re in the right places. 

Check out our tips for keeping your smoke detectors in working order and your family safe. 

Put Your Smoke Alarms in the Right Locations

Having multiple smoke detectors in your home is a must. But more importantly, they have to be strategically placed in order to do their job. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. Here’s a closer look at where you should put your smoke alarms

There should be a smoke detector in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area

If a fire were to start in your home, the smoke detectors in and outside your bedrooms are sure to give you a loud wake-up call to help you get to safety.

Every level of your home — including your basement should have a smoke alarm

In the right conditions, a fire could develop and gain strength on one level of your home without spilling smoke into others. That’s why every single level of your home should have a smoke detector to alert you of any danger

Put a smoke alarm in every stairway

When smoke begins to travel from one level to the next, make sure it will have to pass a working smoke detector. Consider buying a smoke detector with a light for your stairs, as it can be tough to walk through when it’s dark and filled with smoke.

Every home should have a fire alarm in or near the kitchen

While no one likes to hear their smoke detector go off when they’ve barely burnt their dinner, it’s a great reminder that it’s in working condition. Given the number of appliances that could potentially lead to fires in your kitchen, having a smoke detector nearby is a no-brainer.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

What good are your smoke detectors if their batteries are dead or they don’t work anymore? Testing them regularly is crucial to keeping your family safe from unexpected fires. Here’s how you can make sure all your detectors are working correctly:

Check your smoke detectors consistently

To make it easy to remember, consider pairing it with other tasks you do regularly, like paying your utility bill, deep-cleaning your home or changing your furnace filter.

Press the button

All smoke detectors have test buttons. Press the button and see if the alarm goes off. Some detectors may require a single push to test, while others will need to be held for a few seconds. Refer to your detector’s manual or find testing details online. If your detector’s alarm is too quiet or doesn’t sound at all, replace it as soon as possible. 

Look for the power light

Your smoke detector should have some sort of light that indicates that it’s powered up and working. If you don’t see the light, change the smoke alarm’s batteries. If your smoke detector is hardwired, look to see if its wires are connected appropriately. If the wires are disconnected or frayed, call a professional.

Clean your smoke alarm

Whenever you test your smoke detector, wipe it off, too. Dust can collect on the inside and outside of the detector, causing false alarms or preventing it from working entirely.

Replace Your Smoke Detector Every 10 Years

The older your smoke detector is, the more likely it is to malfunction. Replace your smoke alarm at any sign of malfunction and after it turns ten. Here’s why

For safety’s sake

Newer smoke detectors have more advanced safety features. Some smart smoke detectors double as carbon monoxide detectors, connect to you Wi-Fi to alert you of a low battery or even turn on your lights in the event of an alarm.

Speaking of smart smoke detectors, you could qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance when you equip your home with smart appliances or accessories. Ask your American Family Insurance agent if you’re eligible for these extra savings.

Local laws might require it, too

Local and state laws may vary regarding the type and location of smoke alarms to install in homes, rental properties and businesses. Even if you’ve already got smoke detectors, make sure you’re following the letter of the law by looking online or contacting your local fire department for details. 

Keeping your family safe in the event of the unexpected is your number one priority — and it’s your American Family agent’s (Opens in a new tab), too. Get in touch with them today to make sure your policy gives you the peace of mind you deserve.

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