Smoke Detector Hell

I am sure it has happened to you… you’re in a peaceful sleep and then you hear it… beep… you try hard to ignore it… beep and every few minutes you hear that beep… Oh how I wish I would have changed out the batteries to my smoke detector before the beeps had started.  



The other day, I left my home for a quick trip to the store.  When I had returned home I could hear the shrills of my smoke alarm.  Panicked, I ran into the house, as I have two dogs and a cat that are inside.  Thank goodness it was a bad battery and all I had to do was replace the battery – but which smoke alarm needed the battery? It’s not easy to figure out with the house completely filled with the alarm noise. With the help of my neighbor, I was able to get the screeching to stop and calm my pets down. It took a while for my heart rate and headache to go away.  I was truly thankful it was a false alarm, but that day I went to my neighborhood store and stocked up on 9 volt batteries and changed the batteries for every alarm in the house.

The Importance of Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are one of the most important safety devices you can install in your home. Once you’ve installed smoke detectors, it’s absolutely vital to test them regularly to ensure that they will work during a fire. After all, what good are they if they aren’t working when you need them the most!

Smoke Alarms By the Numbers

Here are a few stats from  National Fire Protection Association:

  • In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (38%) of the home fire deaths.
  • One of every five (21%) of the home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present but did not sound.
  • In reported home fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms.



When selecting a new smoke detector, keep the following in mind:

  • Photoelectric units are better for smoldering fires—such as electrical fires in the walls—so they’re ideal for kitchens and bathrooms where these fires tend to occur.
  • Ionization units give the surrounding air an electrical charge and then measure whether the charge remains constant or if a fire consumes the oxygen in the air. These units are better suited to areas where fires get out of control, such as a basement or near a furnace.

Use this guide to ensure that your smoke detectors are working properly:

  • Press the test button on the unit and wait for it to sound.
  • Light a candle and hold it six inches below the detector so the heated air will rise into the detector.
  • If the alarm doesn’t sound within 20 seconds, blow and the candle and let the smoke rise.
  • If the alarm still doesn’t sound, open the detector and clean the unit. Then, test the unit again.
  • If the detector still isn’t working, it should be replaced immediately.

Safety First

Replacing smoke detector batteries is critical to their usefulness. A great way to remember to change your smoke detector’s batteries is to do so twice a year during Daylight Savings Time. When you set your clocks forward or back an hour, also change your smoke detector’s batteries to keep your home and your family safe.

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