Fall back and check fire alarm batteries | Washington State Fire Marshal

As the time change approaches on Sunday, November 3rd, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents that one easy step can help save their lives – changing the batteries in their smoke alarms.

There are many different types of smoke alarms on the market.  How do you know which one to buy?  What kinds of batteries do they take?  These are all common questions regarding a very important part of fire detection in your home.

What types of smoke alarms are available?

There are many brands of smoke alarms available for purchase, but there are three basic types:

• Ionization alarm – more responsive to a flaming fire.

• Photoelectric alarm – more responsive to a smoldering fire.

• Combination or dual sensor alarm – combination of ionization and photoelectric alarms in one.

What about special alarms for people with hearing disabilities?

To meet the needs of those with hearing disabilities there are smoke alarms equipped with strobes that flash and/or vibrate to alert an activation of the smoke alarm.

Where should smoke alarms be installed?

Smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of the home, including the basement.  Since smoke and poisonous gases rise, installing smoke alarms on the ceiling is ideal and will provide the earliest detection.

How do I install smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms that are hard-wired into the home will need a certified electrician to install them.  Battery operated smoke alarms can be installed with as little as a screwdriver.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install properly.

How long do smoke alarms last?

Smoke alarms should be replaced every 8-10 years, or sooner if not responding properly.

What kinds of batteries do they take?

Smoke alarms that are hard wired into your home require a battery backup, which is typically a 9-volt battery.  Standard battery powered alarms can either use 9-volt batteries or long lasting batteries, all of which can be found in local hardware stores.

How often should I replace the batteries?

Batteries should be replaced once a year.  .

“Smoke alarms most often fail because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries, so maintenance is a simple, effective way to protect you and your family,” says State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy.  Remember to…

Know your alarm!  Know your battery!

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Sep 28
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates