There are many different brands of smoke detectors, but they come in two basic types: ionization and photoelectricIonization detectors sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs.
Photoelectric detectors are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also dual sensor smoke detectors that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit.
Because both types do a better job of detecting distinctly different fires, we recommend the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke detectors.
In addition to the basic types of detectors, there are detectors made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These detectors may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke detectors when they sound.
Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement. Since many fatal fires begin late at night or in the early morning, we also recommend installing smoke detectors inside and outside of every sleeping area in your home. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions so that your family receives the warning at the earliest possible time to aid in escaping quickly from the fire.
Remember not to disable your smoke detector if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the detector after cooking. Instead clear the air by waving a towel near the detector, leaving the batteries in place. The smoke detector also may need to be moved to a new location to avoid false alarms.
Most smoke detectors have a life span of about 8-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase with a marker on the inside of your detector so you will know when to replace it. In any event, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement.
Some smoke detectors are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery backup. It’s important to test every smoke detector monthly and replace the batteries with new ones at least once a year.