Smoke Detectors

If your smoke detector doesn't work...the silence can be...deadly!

TEST At least once a month. Push test button or use smoke.
CLEAN At least once a year. Dust with vacuum.
REPLACE The battery each year. Use battery type listed on detector.
Some new detectors have a long life lithium battery.  Check it!

If your smoke detector sounds in non-emergency situations, fan the detector to stop the alarm. Numerous false alarms may indicate your smoke detector needs to be relocated. Contact your local fire department for more information.  The FireX smoke detector that I have listed previously has a 15 minute delay on the reset to allow you to complete cooking if it is going off while cooking, etc, and has the new 10 year lithium battery.  See the new Oregon law information below.

All seasoned fire fighters have heard the explanation, "The smoke detector woke me up. I was able to wake the rest of the family and get them out just ahead of the fire." A smoke detector is the best early fire detection device available to the average homeowner. Here are some answers to questions commonly asked about smoke detectors.

How much does a smoke detector cost?

A smoke detector may be purchased at most retail stores for prices ranging from $5 to $20.

What kind of smoke detector should I buy?

Both battery powered and house current powered smoke detectors do a good job. Make sure the one you choose has been tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

How many smoke detectors do I need?

There should be at least one detector on every floor of the house except attics, unless the attic space is used for sleeping. Additional detectors will increase the chance of early detection.

Where should I place a detector?

Smoke detectors should be placed near bedrooms either on the ceiling--at least 6 to 12 inches away from wall--or on the wall, 6--12 inches down from the ceiling. This allows the detector to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area.

How do I install a smoke detector?

Battery operated detectors can be attached directly to the ceiling or wall. Wired-in electric detectors are somewhat more difficult to install and may require an electrician.

What maintenance do smoke detectors require?

Test the detector at least monthly by pushing the test button. Once a year vacuum the dust from alarm air vents. Battery operated detectors should have the battery replaced each year or when the low battery warning sounds. Select a memorable date such as a holiday or a family birthday to remind you to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors at that time.

Is there anything else I should do with my smoke detector?

YES! Hold practice drills with the whole family so they will know what to do if your detector ever alerts you of an emergency.

Any other tips?

  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home.
  • Never remove a good battery or otherwise disable the detectors.
  • Know what to do after a detector sounds off.
  • Plan a home escape route in the event of a fire.

One fine example of fire safety concern is the new law in Oregon...  These detectors make sense all over our nation although laws do not require them everywhere.

Oregon law has changed regarding smoke detectors. A new type of smoke detector is now on sale throughout the state, and the old type is no longer available.

There are two primary features of the new alarms:

  • Silencer Feature: A button enables the residents to temporarily disable the alert sound when the alarm has been triggered by cooking, dust, etc. This feature has been added to help eliminate the problem of owners removing the battery to silence a false alarm and then never replacing it, a problem that's proven to have tragic implications.

  • Ten-Year Battery Life: New alarms sold in Oregon are required to have ten-year batteries. This solution is to help prevent one of the saddest things firefighters see -- a smoke detector hanging open on the ceiling, minus it's battery -- a smoke detector that might have otherwise saved a life.