Smoke Detectors - The #1 Way To Protect Your Family

It’s crucial that you have working smoke detectors in your home – they can save your life or those you love. Three out of every five home fire deaths were in homes with no working smoke from 2009-2013.* Smoke detectors save lives. 

To keep your family safe, follow these smoke detector safety tips:

  • Install smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly.
  • Change your smoke detectors batteries every 6 months. A good time to remember to check is when you change your clocks for daylights savings (for this year, March 13,2016 and November 6, 2016). Even if you have a hard-wired smoke detector, you should change your batteries as a back-up in case a fire starts during a power outage.
  • Replace smoke detectors in your home every 10 years from the date of manufacture.

There are two different types of smoke detectors that are available to protect you:

An ionization smoke detector is best at detecting flaming fires. Inside the detector are two electrode plates (positive and negative) that create a circuit inside the alarm. Between the plates is a substance called Americium-241, which is made up of positive and negative ions. Because opposites attract, the ions “pair together” completing the circuit.  So, when smoke fills the home and enters the smoke detector, the ions break their “pairs” and bond to the smoke breaking the path of electricity. The alarm will sound due to the break in the circuit.

A photoelectric smoke detector is best at detecting fire that begins with a long period of smoldering. Inside of the detector is an LED light that sends a beam of light straight across the inside. In a compartment at the bottom of the detector is a photo sensor that detects light. When smoke enters the detector through the compartment, the smoke particles interrupt the light beam, scattering it in many directions. This causes some of the LED light to scatter toward the light sensor and when the light beam hits the sensor, the alarm will go off.

For the best protection, it’s recommended to use both an ionization smoke detector and a photoelectric smoke detector. You can either purchase the two alarms separately or a single device that has both technologies.

Cost

An ionization smoke detector ranges from $15 to $60 depending on the features that are included. A First Alert’s Basic Smoke Alarm has a hush button and requires a 9V battery, costing $13. The Hardwire Smoke Alarm is about $60. This alarm is hardwired into the home, has a backup rechargeable battery, and its sound can travel through walls.

A photoelectric smoke detector can range between $20 and $80. The BRK Electronics’ Hardwire Smoke Alarm is $21, has a hush button, a backup battery, and is compatible with some carbon monoxide detectors. The $80 First Alert detector comes in two-pack that allows you to connect them, meaning when one goes off the other one will sound as well.

A dual-sensor detector ranges from $20 to $40 and a smoke detector with a built in carbon monoxide detector combined is about $40 to $80.

Any St. Louis City resident can request free smoke detectors from the St. Louis Fire Department (STLFD). The STLFD will come to your home or apartment and install smoke detectors for you. To request your free smoke detector please call (314) 533-3406.

It’s crucial that you have smoke detectors throughout your home that are in working condition. Smoke detectors are the number way to protect your family. Smoke will spread quickly throughout the home and the use of smoke alarms should give you and your family time to get out.

*Source: National Fire Protection Association


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