Install at least 1 smoke alarm on every floor of your home (including the basement and attic) and outside each sleeping area. If you sleep with the door closed, install smoke alarms inside the room. In new homes, smoke alarms are required in all sleeping rooms, according to the National Fire Alarm Code. Ensure that all members of your family can hear the smoke alarm. If someone is hearing impaired, install alarms that flash a strobe light, as well as sound an alarm.
- While smoke alarms alert people to fires, families still need to develop and practice home fire escape plans so that they can get out quickly.
- Because smoke rises, alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings. Wall-mounted alarms should be positioned 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling; ceiling-mounted alarms should be positioned 4 inches away from the nearest wall. On vaulted ceilings, be sure to mount the alarm at the highest point of the ceiling.
- Smoke alarms should not be installed near a window, door or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with their operation.
- Be sure that the smoke alarm you buy carries the label of an independent testing lab.
- Alarms that are hard-wired to the home's electrical system should be installed by a qualified electrician.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month, by using the alarm's "test button," and clean the units in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
- Clean smoke alarms using a vacuum cleaner without removing the alarm's cover.
- Install new batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year, for example, on the day you change your clocks or when the alarm chirps (warning that the battery is dying).
- Replace all smoke alarm batteries immediately upon moving into a new home.
- Keep batteries in smoke alarms; do not borrow them for other purposes. Nuisance activations can be addressed by moving an alarm farther away from kitchen smoke or bathroom steam and by more frequent cleaning. If the problem persists, replace the alarm.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.