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Smoke Alarms

Man inserting a battery into a smoke detector.

Working smoke alarms save lives. It is estimated that 65% of home fire deaths occur in homes that don't have a working smoke alarm. Most victims of fire die due to smoke and/or toxic gas inhalation because smoke and gas spread faster and farther than heat and flames. Smoke alarms act as an early warning system, alerting people to fire in its early stages. On average, you will have less than 3 minutes to escape a fire once the first alarm sounds.

Forming fire-safe habits is one of the best defenses against having a fire in your home. The Sacramento Fire Department offers the following tips to help ensure smoke alarms in your home are installed, maintained, and working properly:

  • Install working UL-listed smoke alarms inside and outside all sleeping areas, in hallways, and on every level of the home.
  • Consider installing an ionization alarm and a photoelectric alarm or a dual sensor smoke alarm. Ionization alarms are typically more responsive to a flaming, fast moving fire while photoelectric alarms are typically more responsive to a smoldering, smoky fire.
  • Interconnect alarms, if possible, so that if one alarm sounds they all will.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound the alarm makes.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. An easy way to remember to do this is when Daylight Savings Time ends in the fall. Consider using that extra hour gained when you move your clocks back an hour to change the batteries of your smoke alarms.
  • If the smoke alarm starts to “chirp,” it is a warning that the battery is low. Replace the battery right away!
  • If a smoke alarm sounds during normal cooking, do not disable the smoke alarm and do not remove the battery. Instead, press the silence button or open a door or window and fan the area with a towel. Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from cooking appliances.
  • Replace smoke alarms when they are about 8-10 years old including alarms that use 10-year batteries or that are hard-wired. Replace smoke alarms sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, testing, and maintenance.