Smoke detectors can mean the difference between life and death, but not all smoke alarms are alike and experts say it is critical that you choose the right smoke alarm for your home or the consequences could be disastrous.
There are two different kinds of smoke alarms – ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. Most Americans have ionization detectors; however, experts now say that these are too slow in detecting certain fires and do not perform as well as photoelectric detectors for slow, smoldering fires – the most common type in homes.
Dual-sensor alarm detectors that feature both ionization and photoelectric technology are the best choice for homeowners, according to researchers. These are readily available from all the major smoke alarm manufacturers.
There are also smoke alarms for people with special needs. Most smoke alarms have a siren to alert residents of a fire. However, for the hearing impaired, there are smoke alarms with flashing lights, vibrating pads and/or low frequency noises that can be felt rather than heard.
For the visually impaired, there are smoke alarms that feature siren noises that pause in order to allow the person to listen to instructions or hear the voices of others. For the physically disabled or those who live alone, there are smoke alarms that come with outside strobe lights to catch the attention of neighbors or passersby.
Here are some additional smoke alarm tips:
- Test batteries regularly and replace any dead batteries immediately.
- Replace batteries at least once a year unless your smoke alarm uses non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries.
- Have a smoke alarm installed on every floor of your home — if possible, install one in every room.
- Replace smoke alarms every 8-10 years.
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