The Minnesota Fire Code requires that every home have working smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms save lives. Most fatal fires occur at night when people are asleep. Often, victims never wake up. A working smoke alarm will detect smoke and sound an alarm to alert you, giving you precious time to escape.
There are many types of smoke alarms, each with different features. Alarms can be electrically connected, battery powered or a combination of both. This combination - and a pause feature to reduce nuisance alarms - is highly recommended.
One smoke detector is not enough. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. If you or your loved ones sleep with bedroom doors closed, install an alarm inside each bedroom.
Because smoke rises, you should place alarms on the ceiling. If you cannot do this, place them high up on a wall according to manufacturer's instructions. Most importantly, read the installation instructions that come with the alarm.
There are certain locations to avoid such as near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or close to ceiling fans.
Smoke alarms should be mounted on the ceiling at least 4 inches from a wall or on a wall with the top of the alarm not less than 4 inches, or more than 12 inches, below the ceiling.
Test your smoke alarms regularly. Every month, test your smoke alarms using the alarm test button. Once a year, use a smoke test by blowing out a match and letting the smoke roll over the alarm.
Change your clock, change your battery. Install a new battery of the proper type at least once a year, or twice a year with daylight savings. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately.
Gently vacuum alarm every six months. Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the inside of a battery-powered unit using the soft bristle brush. If electrically connected, shut off the power and vacuum the outside vents only. Restore power and test unit when finished.
Smoke alarms don't last forever. Smoke alarms do wear out, so if you think your alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them with new ones. Why not replace them with long-life smoke alarms that will eliminate the need for annual battery replacement and the potential hazard of dead batteries for up to 10 years?
Make sure that everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what to do if a fire occurs. Regularly practice your home fire escape plan. Know two ways out of every room and have a pre-arranged meeting place outside. Once out, stay out and call the fire department from a neighbor's home.