How many fire detectors do you need?

Having enough fire detectors in your home ensure that you are protecting your family from a fire.

Statistically speaking, we don't take proper precautions in our homes to protect us from fire. A lot of people don't plan escape routes or have extinguishers in their homes. A lot of people don't even have enough smoke detectors. Local ordinances and building inspection requirements are usually the only things keeping people as safe as they are.

Your house may pass local requirements, but that isn't always good enough. If there is ever a fire in your house you want to make sure of two things. Number one, make sure that your family is given as much warning of the fire as possible so that they can get out and the second thing is that when they are given proper notice, make sure that they have the ability to fight the fire if they can't get out. Keep in mind that you should always get out and call for help from another area if at all possible. Do not try to put out fires yourself when you and your family can safely escape.

Many areas are starting to require that you have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your home. Fire departments recommend that you test these alarms at least once a month and that you replace the batteries twice a year. The general rule of thumb is to replace your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Some areas are also requiring that you have at least one permanently placed smoke alarm that is hard-wired to your home. Hard-wired simply means that it is not battery operated, but rather connected directly to your home's electricity.

It is generally recommended that you have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the home and also that you have at least one carbon monoxide detector. You can purchase one of those carbon monoxide detectors too and place that right next to the smoke alarm nearest to your furnace or you can simply follow the recommendations in for placement that are located in your detector's user manual.

Many areas recommend that you replace your detectors every 3-5 years, including the hard-wired ones because the sensors get gummed up over time. They also recommend that you replace carbon monoxide detectors every 2-3 years depending on the type.

You could put detectors in every room of the house, but this would be expensive and probably not very much more help anyway. They say that the most effective system is to have one on each level of the home and to make sure that you have the smoke detectors located properly. The best location is in well-ventilated common areas of the home for example; in your kitchen, around your bedrooms, especially in a hallway that is shared by one or more bedroom. Also try to place a smoke detector near your hazard areas, such as your furnace and or a gas operated water heater, etc...

Placement is important because, if the smoke doesn't get to the alarm, then obviously, it won't go off. Check with your local fire department to see if they offer help or advice on where to place your smoke detectors and any other recommendations that they can make on protecting your home from fire. Most departments will do free walk through of your home to make recommendations on how to keep you and your family as safe from fire as possible. Most fire fighters will tell you that they would rather not have to pull you out of a burning building if they can help it. They would prefer that you be able to safely and quickly get out on your own so that they can just worry about the fire when they arrive and not have to worry about saving your life first. Not that they wouldn't do it, because of course they would, it is just that firefighters want to see you and your family be safe and prepared in the first place, before you have to call for help.

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