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Smoke Detector Safety

On a national average smoke alarms were present in three-quarters (74 percent) of the reported home fires in 2014–2018. Almost three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in properties with no smoke alarms (41 percent) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16 percent). The death rate per 1,000 home structure fires is 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or alarms that fail to operate.


Are Your Smoke Detectors Working?

Smoke detectors (smoke alarms) are one of the most important safety devices in your home. If your home has well-maintained smoke detectors, the chances of your family surviving a house fire are greatly increased. From 2014 to 2018, 66% of fatalities due to house fires occurred in homes without working detectors (National Fire Protection Association).

Most homes have smoke detectors, but many times they are not located properly or are not working due to lack of maintenance. Of course, a smoke detector in the wrong location or one that no longer works because it has a dead battery provides no protection for your family.

Maximizing Protection

Your family will have maximum protection if:

  • Your detectors are properly located.
  • You replace batteries regularly.  It is recommended to change annually.
  • You replace the detector device every 8-10 years (or in the case of long-life lithium batteries, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions).
  • For any member of your family who is hearing-impaired, your home needs special detectors which shine lights or vibrate.


How should they be maintained?

Most detectors start “chirping” when batteries have run down.  They can also be nuisance at night by going off when there is no carbon monoxide or smoke danger.  If not maintained properly they can also give off false alarms that can be almost as annoying as an actual hazard.

In addition, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing them monthly. They recommend:

  • Regular 9-volt batteries should be replaced at least annually.
  • 10-year lithium (“long-life”) batteries are non-replaceable. Instead, when the battery dies, the entire detector should be replaced.
  • Hard-wired detectors, meaning they are wired into your electrical system, should have back-up batteries. Replace the back-up batteries annually.
  • Replace regular battery-powered detectors and hard-wired detectors every 8-10 years. If you have a 10-year lithium battery, replace in accordance with manufacture instructions.

Are your detectors properly positioned?

The guidelines given here can help you determine if existing smoke detectors are properly positioned. The NFPA and NEC combine state that you shall have a smoke detector:

  • At each level of your home.  These are also required to be combination CO2 (carbon monoxide) with smoke detectors.
  • Inside each bedroom and 3 feet away from HVAC vents or fans (the 3 feet rule applies to all placements)
  • Within 10 feet of the door to each bedroom (These are the combos with CO2 detection)

All detectors should be placed where smoke can be readily detected — high up on walls or on the ceiling (smoke rises) and at a distance from windows, fans, and vents that might blow smoke away from the detector.

If the smoke detector is wired into your electrical system, it should not be on a circuit that can be turned off with a wall switch.

If a smoke detector is placed too close to a kitchen stove or shower, it can be triggered unnecessarily by steam or normal cooking smoke. Better to move it to a different location that also meets general safety guidelines and your local building code.


Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors Installed?


Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a serious concern. Over 10,000 carbon monoxide poisonings needing medical treatment occur every year and over 500 people die in the US annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.


The state of Georgia requires that every dwelling unit shall be equipped with at least one approved carbon monoxide alarm with battery back up in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes.  It is also required to have one on each floor of the house.


If you are uncertain about placement or need help with installation or battery replacement, call or text Poss Electric Company at 404-787-7262 who is familiar with your local building code requirements for smoke detectors.  You can also contact us at


Poss Electric has been installing and maintaining Smoke and carbon monoxide fixtures all over North Metro Atlanta including Woodstock, Marietta, Canton, Kennesaw, Roswell, and Alpharetta since 2005!  

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