Fire Safety Awareness and Smoke Alarms

A man installing a new fire alarm.

Here’s a scenario we all know: The early morning hours, you’re in a deep, comfortable sleep. Then… *chirp* Are you dreaming? *chirp* Is it a bird? *chirp* No, it’s a mechanical sound from somewhere down the hall. *chirp* Now you know what it is. The smoke alarm. *chirp* Why don’t their batteries run out in the middle of the day when you don’t have to challenge your half-asleep sense of balance on a rolling office chair to pull the device down and rip the battery out? (FYI, we do not suggest nor condone the use of rolling office chairs for standing on nor removing the batteries.)

Then, in the daylight, do you replace the battery of the smoke alarm, or do you just put the whole thing back on the ceiling without its power supply? Same goes for the nuisance alarms produced by cooking. How often do you replace the battery after taking it out to save your sanity? The good news is that technology has improved, and some new alarms have a 10-year battery life.

Here's a stat that should inspire you to maintain working smoke alarms in your home: Nearly 900 lives could be saved each year if those people’s homes had working smoke alarms. Additionally, if you have a working smoke alarm, your chances of dying in a reported fire are cut in half.

Your local codes probably require smoke alarms, and for good reason. Even if they don’t have a requirement, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and install these life-savers. Hard-wired smoke alarms should be installed by a licensed electrician, but the battery operated models are a simple DIY. Follow these tips to make sure you’re doing it properly and getting the most out of your tech.


Every level of your house should have at least one smoke alarm, from basement to top floor. Sleeping areas require one alarm each, and you should have a unit outside every bedroom as well.

Smoke rises, so you want to have the alarms on the ceiling or high on walls. If the alarm is on the ceiling, it needs to be 4 inches from the nearest wall. Wall mounted smoke alarms have to be 12 inches down from the ceiling.

Here’s where not to put them: Near ducting, windows, or doors that could cause drafts or airflow disruptive to the operation of the safety device. (Consult your owner's manual for more specific installation instructions.)

Smoke alarms come with a mounting bracket that’s screwed onto the surface, then the detector unit snaps into that. Follow the individual device’s instructions for installation. But once the unit is up, make sure not to paint over the device or put any other materials on it.


In the scenario I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to imagine not replacing the battery after the late night rude awakening or the nuisance alarm from the kitchen. But we know that these devices need to be fully operational to be effective. It’s not like staking a false armed guard sign on your front lawn to deter criminals. A fire won’t back off if you have non-functioning smoke alarms up for show. And the stats show this need: two-thirds of fatal fires in the U.S. happen in homes with either no smoke alarm is installed, or the alarms aren’t working. And the main reason why smoke alarms don’t work in a fatal fire is dead or missing batteries.

Keep your devices running with fresh batteries and check them often to insure proper protection is in place.


One line of products that eliminates the low battery problem is is Kidde’s Worry-Free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Each alarm has a 10-year lithium ion battery sealed inside the unit. The battery lasts as long as the device, so when it’s time to replace the power supply, you’re also upgrading the whole alarm. No more *chirp*. No other carbon monoxide alarm on the market lasts this long.

The Worry-Free alarms each have a hush function which quiets a nuisance alarm. In fact, the smoke alarms are the only UL-listed alarms to contain a photoelectric smoke sensor that is programmed to reduce nuisance alarms, the second most common complaint of homeowners.

And each smoke alarm is designed with a room-specific feature, to help make it easy for you to choose the right alarm for the right location. For instance, the kitchen area alarm contains a multi-sensor and intelligent alarm technology to minimize, if not eliminate, cooking-related nuisance alarms. Other models have high-power LED lights to illuminate hallways or stairwells and/or an added voice alarm for people and children who may not awaken to the usual beeping alarm.

With convenient functions like these, and no need to change the battery throughout the device’s 10-year life, there’s no excuse not to have fully functioning smoke alarms in all the necessary areas of your house.

Then you can rest easy, knowing you and your loved ones are more protected from fires. And you can sleep sound with the assurance there will be no early morning *chirp* interruptions.