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Fact Sheet

Your home needs smoke alarms! More than half of all fatal fires in the home occur at night while people are sleeping. Smoke alarms cut the risk of fatalities in a home fire almost in half. Here's what you need to know:

Placing Smoke Alarms
To ensure that a smoke alarm will work as it was designed, it must be properly installed.
 Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement.
 Place one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area in your home.
 Keep smoke alarms away from cooking vapors to prevent false or nuisance alarms.
 Follow the manufacturer's installation instructions. Typically, proper placement is on the ceiling. However, if a wall must be used, install the smoke detector(s) at a minimum distance of 4" and a maximum distance of 12" from the ceiling.
 Be sure that any unit you purchase carries a UL or FM approved label.
 Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
 Consider purchasing smoke alarms with lithium cell batteries with a life of up to 10 years.

It's estimated that half of all smoke alarms are not working as they should because batteries are worn out or have been removed. To ensure your smoke alarm is working, test it monthly by pushing the test button. The following maintenance tips will help you keep your smoke alarm in proper working order:
 Smoke alarms should be vacuumed twice a year.
 Install new batteries twice a year or more frequently if the alarm "beeps" to warn that battery power is low. Pick a date that will be easy to remember. Many people change batteries when they change their clocks for daylight savings time.

When an Alarm Sounds
Smoke alarms are designed to warn you of smoke or fire while there is still time to escape. Since every second is vital, make sure your household has a fire escape plan in case the alarms sounds. Elements of a good fire escape plan follow.
 Plan two ways out of every room.
 Make sure you can open all doors and windows.
 Stay low under smoke where the air is fresher and easier to breathe.
 Designate a family meeting place outside the home.
 Once outside, call 911.
 Do not re-enter the home. Leave that to emergency personnel.

The Minnesota Fire Safety Project
National Fire Protection Association

Contact the South Dakota Safety Council at
or phone 605-361-7785 or 1-800-952-5539.