Smoke Detector Questions and Answers

Q: Why do I need a smoke detector? Won't I just wake up from the smell of smoke?

A: No, you cannot smell smoke while you sleep. In fact, the Carbon Monoxide present in the smoke will lull you into a deeper slumber.

Q: Do smoke detectors really work?

A: YES! According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, you are twice as likely to survive a fire in your home if you have properly installed and maintained smoke detectors.

Q: How many smoke detectors do I need?

A: As a minimum, you should have at least one smoke detector on each level of your home, and outside each sleeping area. For added protection, install a smoke detector inside each sleeping area as well.

Q: There are so many types of smoke detectors available. Which one should I buy?

A: Make sure you buy a smoke detector that is listed by an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL.) All listed smoke detectors on the market today provide adequate warning of fire.

Q: Where should my smoke detector be mounted, on the ceiling or on the wall?

A: The ceiling is the best location for the detector, but you can also mount it high on a wall. If you choose to mount it on the ceiling, make sure it is at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. If you mount the detector on the wall, mount it so that the top of the detector is between 4 and 6 inches from the ceiling.

Q: How often do I need to change the batteries in my smoke detector?

A: To ensure that you always have operable batteries in your smoke detector, it is recommended that you change the batteries twice a year. A good way to remember when to replace them is to change them when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Use only the types of batteries recommend on the detector.

Q: Do smoke detectors ever need replacing?

A: Yes. All smoke detectors, including hard wired ones, need to be replaced when they are 10 years old. After 10 years, the detectors may not operate properly in the event of a fire.

Q: Do I need to test my smoke detector, and how often?

A: You should test your detector monthly, be pressing the "Test" button on the unit. Never use real smoke to test the detector.

Q: What if my smoke detector sounds when I cook?

A: If your smoke detector sounds when you cook, you can usually silence it by fanning it with a newspaper to clear smoke from the chamber. Do Not remove the batteries. You could forget to replace them. If normal cooking activity sets the detector off regularly, you may need to reposition it further away from your kitchen. If moving the detector is not possible, you can also replace it with one that has a momentary silence button, designed specifically for that purpose.

Q: Is there anything else I need to know about smoke detectors?

A: Yes. Dust can accumulate and decrease the detector's sensitivity. Clean your smoke detectors annually by vacuuming them out.