I routinely preach in my home inspection walk-throughs and reports – the need to add, update or replace the smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors in the house I’m inspecting for improving home safety.  I’ve seen many instances where there were NO detectors in a house and most times I just see a few working units.  Bad batteries, 20 year old yellowed units… I’ve seen it (or haven’t seen it)!

Why would you put yourself and your family at risk for less than $100?  Protect your family, protect your home!

Smoke Detectors:

The National Fire Protection Association claims that having working smoke detectors may cut the risk of dying in a fire in your home by ONE HALF! And that almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Best practice?  Have a working smoke detector on each level (at a minimum).  Also place them outside the sleeping rooms.  I always recommend smoke detectors with a 10 year lithium battery.  In addition, many studies and tests have been performed in regard to smoke detectors and the differences between ionization and photoelectric technologies.

A quick summary of the differences:

Ionization technology are great at detecting a fast, flaming fire such as burning paper, but poor at detecting a smoldering fire, as in a couch or mattress.  Photoelectric: The opposite of above.

Best practice?  Buy a combo photoelectric smoke/CO detector with a 10 year lithium battery!

Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

Every home should have smoke alarms, and CO alarms are a must in all homes with fuel-burning appliances such as a furnace, water heater, range, cooktop or grill.  Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide detectors are best served being placed directly outside of sleeping rooms as you’ll want to be notified if there is a spike in deadly CO gasses while you sleep.

Overall – Create a family fire plan by preparing a plan of evacuation in case of a fire or CO emergency, and have everyone in the family practice it like a fire drill every few months.


NFPA website:  http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms

Consumer Reports:  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/co-and-smoke-alarms.htm


Smoke Detectors 101

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