Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Today‚Äôs smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
  • Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.

Children and smoke alarms

NFPA is aware of research indicating that sleeping children don’t always awake when a smoke alarm activates. While this research is worrisome, we shouldn’t allow them to obscure the fact that smoke alarms are highly effective at reducing fire deaths and injuries.

NFPA reaffirms the value of the smoke alarms already available to protect people from home fire deaths and voice its concern about the number of U.S. households without these early warning devices. While almost all American homes have at least one smoke alarm, no smoke alarms were present or none operated in one-third of the reported home fires from 2014 through 2018. Almost three-fifths of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

NFPA emphasizes the need to continue planning and practicing home fire escape plans and to make sure everyone in a home can be awakened by the sound of the smoke alarm. NFPA suggests practicing the escape plan during which the smoke alarm is activated so all family members know its sound.

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A PSA about smoke detectors.