Smoke AlarmsMore Americans have smoke detectors than ever before, but nearly half of them don't work. Without a working smoke detector as an early warning device, fire can spread unnoticed through the household, blocking escape routes and filling rooms with deadly smoke.

Make Sure You're Protected

  • A working smoke detector can cut your chances of dying in a residential fire in half.
  • Most fatal home fires occur at night when people are asleep. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person.
  • The poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses quickly and put you into a deeper sleep.

Where to Install Smoke Detectors

  • For best protection, a smoke detector should be located outside each sleeping area, with an additional smoke detector in each bedroom.
  • For extra protection, install smoke detectors in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways.
  • Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust could set off false alarms.
  • Because smoke rises, mount smoke detectors high on a wall or ceiling.
  • Wall-mounted units should be mounted 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling.
  • Ceiling mounted units should be positioned at least 6 inches from the nearest wall.
  • Don't install a smoke detector too close to a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the unit's operation.

Maintenance is Simple

  • Test your smoke detectors every month.
  • Replace the batteries twice each year, when you change your clocks.
  • Never "borrow" smoke detector batteries for other uses.
  • Clean smoke detectors regularly according to the manufacturer's directions. Dust and cobwebs can reduce a detector's sensitivity to smoke or cause false alarms.

Smoke AlarmsA Few More Things . . .

  • Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke detector alarms even with bedroom doors closed.
  • Make sure that everyone in your household and all overnight guests know the sound of the detector's alarm and how to respond.
  • Have a home fire escape plan so that everyone knows what to do when the smoke detector alarm sounds. Have two ways out of each room and a meeting place.
  • Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Don't be confused! A carbon monoxide detector may look just like a smoke detector, but the two are different and they serve different purposes.

Never replace a smoke detector with a carbon monoxide detector. A carbon monoxide detector might not provide the critical early warning or fire that a smoke detector will.

Follow the manufacturer's installation directions for each type of unit to make sure that it will function properly.

A carbon monoxide detector and your smoke detector might also sound alike. When shopping for a carbon monoxide detector, try to find one that sounds different from the smoke detectors you already own. Once installed, make sure all family members can tell the difference.

If a smoke detector goes off, deadly smoke and flames could be filling your home. Leave the house immediately and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's house.

This information is provided by the Escondido Fire Department. For more information, please see the Carbon Monoxide Information Sheet or call 760-839-5400.