Off-Campus Student Services

Smoke Detectors - Fire Safety When You Sleep

Do Smoke Detectors Really Save Lives?
Most fatal home fires occur at night, while people are asleep. Poisonous gases and smoke from a fire in your home can numb the senses in a very short time.

Every home needs a device that can wake people up in time to escape from a fire. The sound of a smoke detector can do that and cut your chances of dying in a fire by 50%!

Currently, 39 states have laws requiring smoke detectors in homes.

How Do I Choose A Smoke Detector?
There are many brands of smoke detectors available but it is important to buy only "labeled" units...those bearing the mark of an organization that tests and evaluates products.

Any labeled smoke detector offers adequate protection, but it's vital that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations for installation, testing and maintenance.

How Many Do I Need?
According to the widely accepted Standard on Household Fire Warning Equipment (NFPA 74), minimum protection requires smoke detectors outside each bedroom and on each additional level of the home-including the basement.

For extra protection, NFPA recommends that you also install detectors in the dining room, furnace room, utility room and hallways. If your family sleeps with bedroom doors closed, you might also install detectors inside the bedrooms. Smoke detectors are not usually recommended for kitchens because of false alarms from cooking; or for garages, where exhaust fumes might cause false alarms, or for attics or other unheated spaces, where extremes of temperature or humidity might affect the operation of smoke detectors.

How To Install?
To install most smoke detectors, all you need is a screwdriver and a drill.

Most smoke detectors operate on batteries or household current. A detector plugged into a wall outlet must have a restraining device so it cannot accidentally be pulled from the outlet. Detectors can also be hard-wired into the electrical system. Never hard-wire a detector to a circuit that can be turned off at a wall switch.

Because smoke rises, mount the detector high on a wall or on the ceiling to detect the first traces of smoke. For a wall-mounted unit, the top of the detector should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. A ceiling-mounted detector should be placed at least 4 inches from any wall. In a room with a high pitched ceiling, mount the detector on or near the ceiling's highest point.

Most home fires start in living areas-the den, family room or living room. On a floor with no bedrooms, install the required detector in or near the living area. If a stairway leads to an upper story, install the detector in the path where smoke would travel up the stairs.

Don't install a detector near a window, door or air register where drafts could impair the detector's operation. Locate a basement smoke detector close to the stairway leading to the floor above. But don't install the detector at the top of the basement stairs; dead air space near the door may prevent smoke from reaching the detector.

How To Maintain?
It's extremely important to test and clean all detectors regularly.
Replace the batteries according to the manufacturer's recommendations or at least once a year. When you move into a new home, install new batteries in every smoke detector.

Never paint a smoke detector and be sure to clean your detectors at least once a year according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing and test yours once a week to make sure you're protected.

What Happens When the Fire Alarm Sounds?
Make sure everyone knows what your smoke detector sounds like.

Plan at least two ways out from each room...especially the bedrooms. Set a place to meet outside your home so you'll know everyone is out. Have everyone practice the plan at least twice a year.

In case of a real fire, get out of the building immediately. Once at the meeting place, have one person go to a neighbor's phone to call the fire department. Tell the dispatcher your name and address, and the exact location of anyone who is still in the building. Stay on the phone until you have answered all the dispatcher's questions.

Smoke detectors-big protection for a small price!

Smoke detectors are required in all new and existing residential structures in the City of Toledo.  The property owner is responsible for the installation of smoke detectors and the occupant is responsible for maintaining the batteries if battery-operated.
Last Updated: 6/27/22