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"Not the largest, just the Best"

15 Minutes Today, Can Help Save a Life and Your Investment Tomorrow

November 2004

Smoke Detectors are vital in protecting our families from the dangers of fire.  The end of October marks the start of Daylights Saving Time.  When the rest of the country adjusts their clocks, they also change the batteries in their smoke detectors.   It is important that we too, change the batteries in our smoke detectors.

Fire kills an estimated 4,000 people each year. Two-thirds of these deaths happen while the victim is at home.  It is important that we protect our families from the dangers of fires.  Smoke detectors help to alert us of the presence of smoke, providing us with warning and the opportunity to escape without harm.  Maintaining our smoke detectors by replacing the batteries annually can help assure early warning in the event of a fire.

In newer homes, it is common to find smoke detectors powered by AC or household current.  Although, the energy is primarily provided by the household current, a battery is installed for backup.  It is important that the batteries be changed annually in this type of detector as well.  When a battery is no longer sufficient, a chirping noise is often generated by the smoke detector signaling the need to replace the battery.  It is a good practice to replace the batteries in all smoke detectors as soon as one battery needs replacing.  Replacing the batteries each year at the start of daylight savings helps to make the annual event memorable.

Smoke detectors need to be placed in the hallways leading to sleeping areas.  If the hallway extends 30 feet, a smoke detector should be installed on each end.  Further, it is best to have an additional smoke detector installed in each bedroom.  Smoke detectors should be placed at the top of each stairwell and at each end of a long hallway.

Newer homes have smoke detectors that are linked to one another.  This allows the smoke detectors installed in the home to intercommunicate. If smoke is detected at one location, a signal is passed to all linked smoke detectors and each detector's alarm sounds.

There are two types of smoke detectors. Ionization Chamber detectors use a radioactive source to produce electrically charged molecules (ions) in the air. This sets up an electric current within the detector chamber. When smoke enters the chamber, it attaches itself to the ions and reduces the flow of electric current, thus setting off an alarm.  The second type is a Photoelectric detector. Utilizing a beam of light, once the beam of light is not received because of too many smoke particles, the alarm is sound.

It is important for the safety of your family that smoke detectors are installed and properly maintained within your home.  The cost of a smoke detector is often less than $10 and annual maintenance can be performed in 15 minutes.   Smoke detectors save lives and protect your property from damage.  Give them fifteen minutes of your time, it may be the best fifteen minutes of your life.

Additional Resources:

National Fire Protection Association

US Fire Administration

City of Phoenix, Fire Services