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Home Smoke Alarms

What you need to know.

Most fatal home fires occur at night when people are asleep. Instead of waking you, smoke and poisonous gases from a fire quickly numb the senses and put you into an even deeper sleep. Seconds can make the difference between life and death. Are you and your loved ones protected? Smoke alarms that are properly installed, maintained and tested in the home can save lives.




What Does a Smoke Alarm Do?

The purpose of a residential smoke alarm is to sense the presence of smoke in the home, to sound an alarm and alert the occupants, giving them time to escape.

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What Types Are Available?

There are two main types: Ionization and Photoelectric

Ionization smoke alarms contain a small chamber that produces electrically charged air molecules called ions. When smoke enters the chamber, it causes a change in the flow of ions, triggering the alarm.

Photoelectric smoke alarms contain a light source whose beam is deflected by smoke into a photo-cell, thereby causing an alarm to sound.

Both types provide effective protection. Smoke alarms can either be wired into the household electrical system or be battery operated.

Other Options Available Include:

  • Interconnectable models which sound alarms in all connected units.
  • Models incorporating an emergency light
  • Models for the hearing-impaired that flash a light in addition to sounding an alarm.

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How Many Do I Need?

A smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each level of the home provides a reasonable degree of protection from the threat of fire. In a single-level home, one alarm may be sufficient if all the bedrooms connect to a common passageway from the living areas. Extra alarms are warranted in homes with separated sleeping areas. If occupants sleep with bedroom doors closed, install a smoke alarm in each bedroom, particularly if heaters or electrical appliances are used in these rooms. In all cases, be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear all smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms or garages, where cooking fumes, steam or exhaust could set off false alarms. The smoke alarms should be installed between the living and sleeping areas in all dwelling units.

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How Do I Install My Smoke Alarm?

If you can handle a screw-driver and operate a drill, you can install a battery-operated smoke alarm. They are simply fastened with two small screws.

Household current smoke alarms should be installed by a licensed electrician.

Because smoke rises, mount alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling. For effective operation smoke alarms should be located away from corners. Don t install a smoke alarm too near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the unit s operation. On a normal flat ceiling install the smoke alarm a minimum of  6 inches from the nearest wall.

On a wall, locate the top of the alarm between 6 inches and 12 inches from the ceiling. In rooms with high pitched ceilings, mount the alarm at or near the ceiling high point.

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For more information


For more information, contact the Silver Lake Fire Distrcit

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