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Smoke Alarms
What kind should I buy?
There are two types of smoke alarms,  Ionization and Photoelectric

Both ionization and photoelectric alarms are effective smoke sensors. Both types of smoke alarms must pass the same test to be certified as UL smoke detectors. Ionization alarms  respond more quickly to flaming fires with smaller combustion particles; photoelectric alarms respond more quickly to smoldering fires. In either type of alarm, steam or high humidity can lead to condensation on the circuit board and sensor, causing the alarm to sound. Ionization alarms are less expensive than photoelectric alarms, but some users purposely disable them because they are more likely to sound an alarm from normal cooking due to their sensitivity to minute smoke particles. 

Which type alarm is best for residential use?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration it cannot be stated categorically that one type of smoke alarm is better than any other type smoke alarm  in every fire situation that could possibly occur in a residence. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with either (a) both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms, or (b) dual sensor smoke alarms (which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors). 

Smoke alarms can be  house current, battery operated, or house current with a battery back up. If your electricity goes out you will not have smoke alarm protection if your alarm does not have a battery. 

Most fire deaths are preventable. Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Purchase one or more smoke alarms.
  • Install your alarms properly.
  • Identify escape routes and practice escaping.
  • Maintain your alarms.
  • A smoke alarm is a fire alarm that buzzes when it detects smoke, warning you in time to escape.
House on Fire


How much does a smoke alarm cost?
   -  A smoke alarm may be purchased at most retail stores for about $10.00

How many should I have in my house?
    - 
There should be a least one smoke alarm on every level of your household.  Additional alarms will significantly increase your chances of survival.

Where should I install my smoke alarms?
   -  Follow the manufacturer's guidance on the recommended location of smoke alarms in a house. Most smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling or high on a wall near the bedrooms. This enables the alarm to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area. Install your smoke alarm away from air outlet vents to prevent dust accumulation.

Know How to Escape
   -  Your smoke alarm will awaken you, but you may not be thinking clearly. You should practice escaping before an emergency strikes.  Once a fire has started, it spreads rapidly. You may have only seconds to get out.  Normal exits from bedrooms may be blocked by smoke or fire. It is important everyone knows exactly what to do.

Identify Escape Routes
   - 
Plan two exits from every room. Second story windows may need a rope or chain ladder to enable occupants to escape safely. Choose a meeting place outside the home so you'll know everyone has escaped. Practice your escape!

Maintenance is Important
   - 
Your smoke alarm must be maintained properly to provide you and your family with protection.

How do I maintain my smoke alarms?
   - 
Replace batteries according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remember to change batteries when you change your clocks!
   -  Dust the grill of your alarm.
   -  Test your alarm monthly or according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Smoke Alarm  Program
CFD partners with many community organizations to provide and install Smoke Alarms to residents upon request.  To find out more about this program call the smoke alarm hotline at 704-336-2697, complete the Smoke Alarm Request Form or email firesafety@charlottenc.gov

Did you know?

The death rate per 100 reported fires is twice as high in homes without working smoke alarms  as homes with working smoke alarms.

A working smoke alarm increases your chance of surviving  a house fire by more than 50%

An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms!