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Smoke alarms are devices that alert homeowners to the possibility of dangerous fires. To make your home as safe as possible, you should install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Make sure that there is an alarm outside all separate sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. All smoke alarms must be interconnected.
Some smoke alarms are hardwired to operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds off at the same time, regardless of the fire’s location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hardwired should have battery backups in case of a power outage and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so that when one alarm sounds off, they all sound off. If you or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration and/or sound.
Always mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings. (Remember: Smoke rises.) Ceiling-mounted alarms should be installed at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted alarms should be installed 4-12 inches away from the ceiling. If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling’s highest point.
Do not install smoke alarms near windows, doors or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. And never paint smoke alarms, as paint or other decorations (e.g., stickers) can keep the alarms from working properly. -- As told to Jean NayarPhoto:@ iStockphoto.com/IngaNielsenIngaNielsen
Lorraine Carli is the vice president of communications for the National Fire Protection Association.