Now that Daylight-Saving Time is over, it's a great time to not only change those clocks back but also to check the batteries in your smoke alarms. Here's some helpful information from Middletown South District Fire Chief Ed Balsamo:
Types of smoke alarms:
- Ionization - This is the most commonly available smoke alarm. This kind of technology detects fast burning, rapidly moving fires.
- Photoelectric - Many smoke alarms also contain this kind of technology. These sensors detect slow, smoldering fires.
- Dual-sensing - One alarm that contains both technologies of ionization and photoelectric.
Most smoke alarms are battery operated. Many older alarms use 9-volt batteries. Even if a battery is hardwired into the home’s electrical system, a battery is usually included as a “back-up” in case of power failure. Some of the newer smoke alarms can use lithium batteries. While lithium batteries usually cost more, they last much longer — as much as 5 to 7 years longer than a 9-volt battery.
Changing the batteries is extra important this year, especially if you have a hard wired system, because your batteries that never get used, were used over the past week with the power off.
Currently, there are smoke alarms available that use both ionization and photoelectric sensors. These “dual sensing” alarms offer better protection. Several of the dual sensing models can also use long-life lithium batteries.
Where to install smoke alarms:
- Every home should have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including basements. For the most protection, install a smoke alarm in each bedroom.
- Hallways longer than 30 feet should have a smoke alarm at each end.
- Install smoke alarms at the top of each stairwell.
- Smoke alarms in kitchens should be kept away from cooking fumes or smoking areas.
- Install smoke alarms on walls at least 12 inches from the ceiling.
- Smoke alarms can be installed on ceilings but be kept at least 18 inches away from dead air space near walls and corners.
Take care of your smoke alarms:
- Vacuum smoke alarms every month.
- Never paint smoke alarms.
- Replace batteries when you hear a chirping, popping or beeping sound.
- Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Check manufacturer’s instructions when purchasing any smoke alarm.
Remember, when it comes to smoke alarms:
- Get it! Purchase the correct number of smoke alarms you need for your home.
- Check it! Check your smoke alarm every month to make sure the batteries are still working.
- Change it! Replace the dead batteries with new ones to make sure your smoke alarm is in good working order and to ensure your family’s safety.