Every home should have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. However, relatively few consumers are fire prevention experts or carbon monoxide specialists. This makes it difficult to select the best alarms on the market. Here are some recommendations that will make this very important task much easier. We also provide installation and maintenance tips so you can quickly begin protecting your family and yourself.
Tip 1: Every bedroom in the home should have a smoke alarm. An additional alarm should be installed in the hallway outside these sleeping areas.
Tip 2: Each level of the home, including the basement, should have a smoke alarm. Home size and configuration determine whether more than this minimum is necessary.
Tip 3: Photoelectric and ionization are the two main sensor technologies used in smoke alarms. Photoelectric alarms are best at detecting smoldering and slow-burning fires. Ionization alarms are typically better at detecting fast-moving, flaming fires. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends using both technologies within the home. Consumers can install one photoelectric and one ionization alarm in each area or select dual-sensor alarms that have both sensor types.
Tip 4: Some smoke alarms can be hard-wired into the home electrical system. This type of alarm should be installed by an electrician. Always select a model with a battery backup so protection will continue during a power outage. Other versions operate on batteries alone and can easily be installed by a do-it-yourselfer.
Tip 5: The latest smoke alarms have a variety of convenient features and several safety enhancements. These include the ability to mute false alarms with a television remote. Some alarms feature wireless interconnection capability. All alarms in the network can be programmed to sound if one alarm detects smoke. A unit may even be programmable with a location name so the area of the danger will be identified when the alarm sounds.
Tip 6: A smoke alarm should be installed high on a wall or on the ceiling because smoke rises. Manufacturer instructions provided details regarding correct placement, maintenance, and administration.
Tip 7: Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless but it is deadly. It is produced by incomplete combustion of fuels including wood, coal, charcoal, oil, natural gas, propane, and kerosene. A carbon monoxide alarm alerts when this gas reaches a potentially dangerous level within the home. Every bedroom and every level of the home should have a carbon monoxide alarm. Alarms should also be placed approximately 20 feet from a furnace and other fuel-burning sources of heat. Consider home configuration and size to determine whether more are necessary.
Tip 8: Some carbon monoxide alarms plug into an electrical outlet while others are designed for hard-wiring into the home electrical system, which can be done by a licensed electrician. As you should with smoke alarms, choose a carbon monoxide alarm with a battery backup. Follow manufacturer instructions regarding placement, installation, and use.
Tip 9: Installing carbon monoxide alarms should not be considered a replacement for proper use and maintenance of any fuel-burning appliance.
Tip 10: Conduct weekly tests of carbon monoxide and smoke alarms and note unit replacement dates per manufacturer recommendations.
Tip 11: Some alarms feature a low battery signal but experts recommend replacing batteries twice per year regardless.