Smoke Alarms Save Lives!

For more information on smoke alarms, call the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department at 231.947.3000

Smoke alarms are devices that can save your life! They alert you when smoke is present in or around your home. When you are sleeping, they are your “nose at night” and can help you escape safely in the event of a fire.

Fire Facts:

  • Almost 400,000 home structure fires occurred in the U.S. in 2007, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those fires killed 2,850 people.
  • On average, 8 people died every day in the U.S. in 2007.
  • Even though 96% of people surveyed said that they had a working smoke alarm in their home, no working smoke alarms were present in almost 2/3 of the homes where a fire death occurred in 2007.
  • Missing or dead batteries are the main reasons smoke alarms do not sound in response to a fire.
  • A home fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.
  • A smoke alarm has a limited life – like any household appliance that works 24-hours a day.
  • If you don’t know exactly how old your smoke alarms are, you should replace them just to be safe.
  • Once a house fire starts, you have less than 5 minutes to get you and your family to safety.
  • Most deadly fires in America occur during the night, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The majority (51.6%) of victims of home fires die in their sleep.
  • Your family’s chances of surviving a home fire DOUBLE when there are working smoke alarms in the home.
  • Each year, home fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined.

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 9volt batteries. Even if a battery is hardwired in to 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 five to seven years longer than a 9volt battery.

Currently, there are smoke alarms available that use both ionization and photoelectric sensors. These “dual sensing” alarms offer better protection for your family. Several of the dual sensing models can also use long-life lithium batteries.

Using a dual sensing smoke alarm with a lithium battery offers the safest protection for you and your family.

Where to install smoke alarms

  • The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department recommends that every home 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.

Where smoke alarms should not be installed

  • Do not install smoke alarms near fireplaces and wood stoves. This will cause “false alarms”.
  • Drafts can affect how the smoke alarm works, so avoid windows and doors.
  • Never place a smoke alarm closer than three feet from an air register that could re circulate smoke.
  • Do not install smoke alarms in laundry rooms or garages.

Take care of your smoke alarms

Vacuum your smoke alarms every month

Never paint your 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.

For more information on smoke alarms, call the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department at 231.947.3000