photoelectric smoke detectorsSmoke detector batteries and daylight savings go hand in hand. We are reminded it’s a good time to make sure our alarms are in working condition. You also need to check the type of smoke detector in your home, because the wrong one can kill.

Dads turn heartache into help

Do you know what kind of smoke detectors you have in your home? If you can’t answer that question, you need to take action. Here’s why it matters what type of smoke detector you have in your house. Dean Dennis and Doug Turnbell are two Ohio dads. They lost their daughters in a fire near Ohio State. It prompted them to embark on a smoke alarm safety mission. Smoke detectors are not created equal. 90-percent of homes have ionization detectors. That technology doesn’t sound as quickly as photoelectric alarms in certain type fires.

House fires are changing. They are smoldering longer as the products in our home change. We have more synthetic products, and they create smokier fires. The smoke is thick and full of chemicals making it dangerous to your family. That’s why you need to make sure you have the rights smoke alarm to protect your family.

Testing smoke detectors

With the help of the North Eastern Ohio Fire Prevention Association, Jenn put smoke detectors to the test.

There are two types of technology: ionization and photoelectric. The firefighters set a smoldering fire with a device that simulates a cigarette. The firemen placed the device in the couch. Smoke quickly filled the room. In the test, the photoelectric alarm sounded first.

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Then we waited for the ionization alarm to sound. We waited a long time. More than 9 minutes later the ionization alarm finally sounded. That’s a long time in a fire where seconds count. Imagine if your family was sleeping in that home. Would you want your family to wait 9 minutes before your alarms sounded? That could happen if you only have ionization alarms in your home.

This is just one test. The time varies depending on the test. However, most have the same conclusion. In a smoldering fire, the photoelectric alarm sounds more quickly. For this reason, many fire groups recommending using both types of detectors in your home.

Investigation leads to results

The North Eastern Fire Prevention Association and the dads used the test to push for change in Ohio. Now, photoelectric alarms are required in new construction. They must be on each floor and outside bedrooms or sleeping areas. The World Fire Safety Foundation is also a strong advocate for photoelectric smoke detectors.

world fire safety foundation jenn strathman testimonial

How to check your smoke detectors

While Ohio made the change for new home construction, many homes are not impacted by the new law. That’s the case not only in Ohio, but other states where there are not laws requiring photoelectric smoke detectors. That’s why it’s important you take safety precautions for your family.

Here’s how to check the type of smoke detector in your home. Look on the back of the smoke detector. It typically will say “ionization” or “photoelectric.” You may also just see an “I” or a “P.” If you don’t see those symbols, look for mention of radiation. If you see that, you have an ionization alarm.

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Retailers also sell dual alarms. In our test, the dual alarm did not sound as quickly as the stand-alone photoelectric alarm, but it still sounded quicker than the stand-alone ionization alarm.

Due to these tests and first-hand experience, many of the leading fire groups recommend using ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors in your house. However, some groups still say any working alarm is good enough.

Ultimately, only you can decide what’s best for your family. Keep this in mind, though, this daylight savings weekend when you check your smoke alarm batteries too.