Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms


Smoke Alarms contribute significantly to the safety of your family by sensing smoke long before fire has had  time to spread.  Fire, smoke and toxic gases move swiftly and silently through a structure, reducing visibility and your ability to escape from the house safely.

Most fatal home fires occur at night, while people are asleep.   Poisonous gases and smoke from a fire in your home an numb the senses in a very short time.  Every home needs a device that can wake people up in time to escape.

Over a recent three year period, an analysis was undertaken of people that died in homes where smoke alarms were present but did not work. 85% of those victims did not have a functioning smoke alarm because of a dead or missing battery/power source.

Some smoke alarms are considered to be “hard wired.” This means they are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery back-up. It’s important to test every smoke alarm monthly. And always use new batteries when replacing old ones.

For this reason, we urge you to remember every year, WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR CLOCK, CHANGE YOUR BATTERY IN YOUR SMOKE DETECTOR

Choosing a Smoke Alarm

There are several name brands available.  Buy those that are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) approved.

Which type of alarm is more effective?

There is no simple answer to this question. The two types operate on different principles and therefore may respond differently to various conditions. Some advantages to each type are set out below:


  • Fastest type to respond to flaming fires
  • Lowest cost and most commonly sold
  • Some models have a hush or temporary silence feature that allows silencing without removing the battery
  • Some models are available with a long life battery


  • Fastest type to respond to slow smoldering fires and white or gray smoke
  • Less prone to nuisance alarms from cooking

Regardless of their differences, to achieve ULC listing, both alarms must be tested to the same standard and meet the same requirements. Photoelectric smoke alarms may respond slightly faster to smoldering fires, while ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming fires. Since you can’t predict the type of fire that will occur, it is difficult to recommend which is best. Both alarms will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home. Installing both types of smoke alarms in your home can enhance fire safety.

It’s vital that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation, testing and maintenance.

How Many Smoke Alarms Do You Need?

Install at least one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and one on each level of the home.  We strongly recommend that you install one alarm inside each bedroom.

Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens because of false alarms from cooking vapors, or garages where automobile exhaust might cause false alarms, or for attics or other unheated spaces where extremes of temperature or humidity might effect their operation.  In these areas you should install a heat detector.

Installation – Where and How?

To install most smoke alarms, all you need is a screwdriver and a drill.  Because smoke rises, each alarm should be mounted high on a wall or on the ceiling to detect traces of smoke.  Ceiling mounted detectors should be at least 4″ from a wall.  Wall mounted alarms should be no less than 4″ or nor more than 12″ from the ceiling.  Smoke alarms should not be mounted near air vents.


  • It’s extremely important to test and clean all detectors regularly.
  • It only takes a moment to test a smoke alarm.  You need to test your alarm at least once a month and most alarms are equipped with a test button or follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Dust or cobwebs can reduce an alarms sensitivity to smoke.   Clean your smoke alarm at least 3-4 times a year by using the brush end of your vacuum cleaner
  • Replace the batteries at least twice a year if the alarm is battery operated
  • Smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years
  • Never paint a smoke alarm

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