When living in a multistory building, fire safety should be a top priority. Each resident should make it their business to have preventative measures put in place. This includes organizing an action emergency plan, owning a fire extinguisher, and owning a SkySaver. The one thing that precedes usage of any of these measures is your warning system i.e. your smoke detector. There is no reason every home should not have working smoke detectors installed. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 900 lives per year could be saved if working smoke detectors were installed in all homes. Smoke detectors give you the extra time needed to put the fire out before it gets out of control or to escape if it is already out of control. But, what makes a good smoke detector? What should you be looking for?

Smoke detectors are inexpensive and extremely easy to install, so there is no reason every home should not have them. Basic ones start at fifteen dollars. The more advanced you go, the more it’ll cost, however the basic ones are definitely enough, especially if you’re not looking to spend the extra dime. Make sure to check any regulations in your region before you shop. The regulations for placement and smoke detector type can vary. In addition, there are some insurance companies that offer a five percent discount for homes that have smoke detectors.

Make sure to purchase a smoke detector that can detect both fires that flare and fires that smolder. There are 3 types of smoke detectors you should be choosing from; ionization, photoelectric, and dual-sensor.

Ionization: Best at detecting small particles of fast flaming fires but have more difficulty in detecting smoldering fires. Prone to false alarms from steam and burnt food.

Photoelectric: Best at detecting smoldering fires but more difficulty in detecting fast flaming fires. Less prone to false alarms.

Dual-sensor: Can detect both fast flaming fires as well as smoldering fires.

You might be thinking “What features should I consider when purchasing a smoke detector?” I’m glad you asked. All of the following should be considered: power source, battery backup, interconnectability, hush button.

With regards to the power source, do you want one that uses batteries, or one which needs to be installed into your home’s wiring, in which case you would need a professional installation. The advantage of batteries is that they will work during a power outage, however the disadvantage is that they generally need to be changed yearly. For hard-wired smoke detectors, sometimes you have the option for a battery backup so if the power goes out you will still have a working smoke detector. Battery powered smoke detectors will warn you when the power is low, some with a voice message or visual display. Some smoke detectors can be interconnected, meaning if one triggers, they all go off. This is an important feature for multi-story homes, however for a small single-story home it may not be necessary. A hush button is convenient for turning the smoke detector off after a false alarm, rather than completely disabling it, and having to remember to turn it back on.

Make sure your smoke detector meets the Underwriters Laboratories Standard. The UL label should be on the package. Make sure you check the date of manufacture. Install the smoke detector on the ceiling for the most effective location and make sure to replace it every 10 years.

What brands should I use, you ask? Here are 2 recommended brands that represent three-quarters of the smoke detector market; First Alert and Kidde. First Alert has plug-in, hardwired, battery, and hardwired with battery-backup units. They also make dual sensor units. Kidde makes battery operated and plug-in units, as well as hardwired. They also make dual sensor units.

In the end, what really matters is that you have working smoke detectors installed in your home. They aren’t expensive, aren’t difficult to find online, easy to install, and will save your life. What could your reason possibly be for not having a smoke detector? Be smart and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.