Smoke alarms are the best way to protect ourselves from fire.

We spend a lot of time at home.

A couple points to consider:

  • Fires at home are most common during the evening cooking hours. This is also the most common time for burn injuries.
  • Death from home fires are most common when the fire occurs after bedtime.

When we replaced the batteries in our smoke alarm this weekend, we checked our go-to resource for all things fire safety: the National Fire Protection Association.

Here are the 5 smoke alarm facts that surprised us the most:

1. Check the BACK of your smoke alarm. It’s crucial to pay attention to which batteries are specified by the manufacturer. Replace with the specified brand and type of batteries, otherwise the smoke detector may not work.

2. Know your smoke detector, and diversify! Ionization and photoelectric – make sure you have both. Ionization smoke alarms are best for beeping when flames are licking the walls and reaching for the ceiling. Photoelectric smoke alarms are best for smoldering fires and all the accompanying smoke. INSTALL BOTH TYPES OF SMOKE ALARMS for the best security. Some smoke alarms combine both technologies in one device, so if you’re buying brand new that might be your best option. Here’s an example of a combo smoke detector.

3. Interconnect all smoke alarms. When one beeps, they all beep. This is NOT just for new homes, and you don’t have to cut into your drywall because there is WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY FOR SMOKE ALARMS! We love this! Here’s one example of the wireless interconnected system you can add to your home: Kidde Wireless (ionization) smoke alarm.

4. Folks with high ceilings, take note: you may need to step on a ladder to install your smoke detectors. We agree, it will be a pain in the rump when it comes time to change the batteries. But…this is important: smoke rises. So, mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings. Install wall-mounted alarms no more than 12 inches from the top of the alarm to the ceiling.

5. If your ceilings are pitched, install the alarm within 3 feet of the peak but not within the apex of the peak (four inches down from the peak).

Figure A. Smoke alarm installation

Figure A. from NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (2013 edition).

Bonus tip: you probably need more smoke detectors.

We thought we had plenty. We have one outside our bedroom, which happens to be next to the kitchen. We also have one outside our son’s bedroom.


We are now installing smoke detectors in our bedrooms as well, and we will be diversifying.

And….we don’t have enough in our office, so we are installing some there as well. It’s such a small expense for a priceless result. Safety. And potentially, LIFE.

Best wishes for your safe home and workplace. Please spread the word and help keep your friends and loved ones safe.

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