Home Smoke Detector Safety Guide

Your smoke detector is the most essential safety fixture in your home. In the US every year there are approximately 350,000 home fires which result in over 2,500 deaths. Of these more than half of deaths occur during fires in which no working smoke alarm is present!

Early detection of fires is critical to saving lives and smoke alarms are an essential component in alerting a family to a home fire. Smoke and toxic fumes migrate faster than flames which account for the fact that most deaths are the result of inhalation of these toxic substances.

Almost all homes in the US have smoke alarms. Surprisingly, 20% of these homes do not have a single working smoke alarm! Given the incidence of home fires this is an area of great concern. Smoke alarms require very little maintenance. Having a working smoke alarm reduces the chances of dying by 50%. Below are a few quick and easy steps that you can take to better assure the safety of your loved ones.

  • Once a month test your alarms.
  • Replace the batteries every six months but no less than once per year.
  • Replace all alarms once they reach 8 to10 years of service – Smoke detectors expire! –

The US Fire Administration states that smoke detectors have a life span of about 8 to 10 years – a good rule of thumb is to write the date of purchase on the inside of the battery compartment (newer models already have the purchase date inside)

  • Make sure you have the proper number of alarms – it is recommended to have one functioning alarm on each floor and each bedroom as a minimum.
  • If you find that you require repair, replacement and installation of smoke alarms hiring a qualified electrician is an excellent option. Gibbons Electric can assist you with your smoke detector safety – give us a call, we are at your service.


Never remove the battery or disable the smoke alarm!

Beyond the above here’s what you need to know about the technology of smoke detectors, they basically are of one of two types: photoelectric and ionization. What is the difference between these types of detectors/alarms?

  • Ionization alarms sound more rapidly in fast moving fires.
  • Photoelectric alarms sense smoldering, smoky fires much quicker.
  • Dual Sensor alarms integrate both technologies into one unit!

Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different types of home fires. As a homeowner you might consider a dual sensor as a good option as you cannot predict the type of fire that could potentially happen in your home.

Some smoke alarms are “hard-wired.” – and, as such, are connected to the household electrical system. These hard-wired units also have a battery back-up – so check your units.

Other areas that will provide for the safety of your home and family members in the event of fire would be:

  • Have an escape plan that all family members know
  • If possible, have fire drills every 6 months or annually at a minimum.
  • Ensure that you have fire extinguishers in your home.

Don’t put your family at risk! At Gibbons Electric safety is one of our utmost priorities in everything we do. Give us a call (781-648-7771) and we can assist you with your home safety/fire prevention electrical requirements.


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