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As we head into the coldest season of the year, Ashbusters would like to take the time to remind you of the importance of making sure that you have working smoke detector alarms installed throughout your home. Without smoke detectors, your family is at a much higher risk of not being able to escape smoke detectoran accidental fire. In fact, studies conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2012-2016 not only found that smoke alarms are necessary to have enough escape time, but researchers at the non-profit fire safety organization also discovered that the number of deaths that occurred in residential fires was more than doubled in homes that had no working smoke detectors present. For years, Ashbusters has provided superior professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services to the Charleston area, and our top priority is the safety of our customers. Over these years, we have frequently been asked questions about smoke detector alarms, and we would like to answer these questions to help you and your family stay safe this winter.

What kind of smoke detector alarm system should I install in my home?

When shopping for smoke detector alarms, you should know that there are two types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Since ionization alarms typically respond better to flaming fires and photoelectric alarms tend to be more responsive to smoldering fires, the NFPA recommends either installing both types of alarms in your home or finding a system that combines the two types of alarms. It is also strongly recommended to interconnect your smoke alarms so that when one alarm sounds, all alarms will sound. You can connect your alarms with hardwiring or wireless technology, and you should make sure to use alarms from the same manufacturer so that they will be compatible with each other. Interconnecting your smoke alarms greatly increases your family’s safety.

Where should I install my smoke detectors?

For the best protection, Ashbusters recommends that you install smoke detector alarms on every level of your home, and this includes the basement. Alarms in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs. You should also put an alarm inside each bedroom as well as one outside of each sleeping area in your home. To reduce the number of false alarms when cooking, you should keep your smoke detectors at least ten feet away from any cooking appliance. On the levels of your home with no bedrooms, you should install smoke alarms in the living room (or family room or den) and near the stairways to other levels. Since smoke rises, you should place your smoke detectors on the ceilings or high on the walls. The NFPA recommends that wall-mounted smoke alarms be installed no further than 12 inches away from the ceiling. For homes with pitched ceilings, you should mount smoke alarms within three feet of the peak. However, you should not place an alarm within the apex of the peak, or four inches from the peak.

How can I test my smoke detectors?

If a fire accidentally breaks out in your home, it will not matter how many smoke detector alarms you have installed if they do not work properly. The most recent NFPA study found that 43 percent of the smoke alarms that were present but did not operate in reported fires had disconnected or missing batteries. Ashbusters recommends that you consult the instructions from the manufacturer of your smoke detectors to best maintain your alarm system. In these instructions, you will find valuable information on how to test and replace the batteries in your detector alarms. If you do not use the specific brand and model when replacing batteries, you run the risk of your smoke alarm system not operating properly. We strongly recommend that you read the manufacturer’s instructional guide completely before the installation of your smoke detectors and that you keep this guide in a safe place to consult in the future when necessary. Also known as the user’s manual, this guide from FirstAlert, one of the most popular brands of smoke alarms available on the market today, is a good example of the helpful information you should find in your smoke detector instructions.

What should be part of my family’s fire escape plan?

While having a working interconnected smoke detector alarm system properly installed in your home is an essential part of a home fire escape plan, you also need to work together as a household to mark at least two ways, including windows and doors, to escape every room on a floor plan of your home. The NFPA recommends that you walk through your plan together to check that each escape route is clear. Decide on a place outside your home, such as the mailbox or a tree, for your family to meet after getting out of the house. If you have young children, elderly, or family with mobility issues, you will want to pair them with someone to assist them during an emergency. Once you have made your home fire escape plan, you will want to run practice drills at least twice a year to be sure everyone can get out of the house safely in case of an emergency.

Ashbusters also recommends that you install carbon monoxide detectors alongside your smoke detectors in your home alarm system. If you have any questions about your home fire escape plan, contact us today. We are here for all of your professional chimney and fireplace maintenance, repair, and installation needs.