Homeowning 101: Smoke Detectors

It can't be understated: smoke detectors can save your life. They are inexpensive, easy to install and must be checked on a regular basis. Take the time for safety in the home.

Not all smoke detectors are created equal. It shouldn't take a horror story to convince you of the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home, but in case you need some examples, check out these videos.

Ionization smoke detectors use a different method of detection from photoelectric. Current safety recommendations are to use both kinds of detection in your home. Want to see a test in action? Learn more by watching this video.

If you're unsure of what kind of smoke detector to buy, here are some links to get you started.

Ionization Smoke Detector by Kidde

Photoelectric Smoke Detector with Carbon Monoxide

Photoelectric Smoke Detector - 2 Pack

You should closely follow the manufacturer's recommendation for replacing your smoke detectors. Most will need to be replaced every 8-10 years. Make an appointment on your calendar to check your detectors and replace batteries as needed.

Photoelectric + Ionization Smoke Detector - combined

Rarely have I been awakened by the dulcet tones of a smoke detector, but boy were they memorable experiences. Once in college I woke up around 7am to an alarm, thinking it was an alarm clock, as often is the case at the time of day living in close quarters in a dormitory. But it was much louder and the sight of smoke, actual smoke, in the adjoining bathroom hurried me out of bed. In this case an alarm had been pulled and the building quickly cleared. The fire department quickly put out the fire with little damage and no injuries. There is something to be said for hardwired and linked smoke alarms, a system I found very effective at keeping us all safe.

An experience more recently was more spooky than dangerous. At 4am one smoke detector sounded for a few brief seconds, not the sound of a dying battery but the actual alarm. It quickly stopped, but I was up and investigated and finding nothing of concern went back to bed. Later that day I read in the paper that a house a few hundred miles away had burned at 4am. I hope I never need these home safety devices, but I sure won't live without them.