Advice From Earleigh Heights: Have Enough Smoke Detectors


Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company Chief Dave Crawford said the average house should have 10 or more smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Many older homes have fewer than this recommended amount. That’s a gap the fire company is trying to highlight, and Crawford wants Anne Arundel County residents to make sure their detectors work.

“It may not be intuitive [that] a home needs so many detectors. But it makes sense,” Crawford said. “A house needs one on every level. In addition, you should have a smoke detector inside every bedroom. And you need a smoke detector in the common area outside the bedrooms. It’s important to have one in the laundry area, one in the den and one in any other corridors. In a big house or multi-level house, 10 might not be enough.”

Modern smoke detectors are devices with batteries that last 10 years. They fill a need for people living in older homes that have outdated detectors powered exclusively by nine-volt batteries, homes that don’t have smoke detectors inside bedrooms or homes that don’t have detectors on every level.

“Any older smoke detectors that aren’t hard-wired should be replaced with detectors having a 10-year battery life,” Crawford explained. “It’s a requirement of a relatively new state law, and it’s a big change from years ago. This new type of detector, self-powered for 10 years, is perfect for older homes that lack smoke detectors inside bedrooms or on lower floors.”

Many people can relate to the annoying low-battery beeping that echoes throughout the home. New smoke detector technology eliminates that beeping. It’s a big relief for family members looking after relatives living in older homes.

“I can’t count the number of homes I’ve seen the batteries removed because of low-battery beeping,” Crawford said. “It’s important to have proper coverage. Older residents, especially, need as much time as possible to make their way out.”

In addition to smoke detectors, Crawford recommends installing a carbon monoxide detector on every level.

“It sounds like a lot of detectors, but it’s the key to life-saving early detection of deadly smoke or carbon monoxide, especially when you’re asleep,” Crawford said. “I’d like to see all detectors tested annually.”

Daylight savings time is a great time to test your detectors, and it’s a good time to clean all of your detectors using your vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment.

Newer homes, and homes that have been renovated, have hard-wired, 120-volt smoke detectors with battery backup connected, so if one activates, they all sound the alarm.

“That’s the best arrangement,” Crawford said.

As a reminder, if your detector alarms, call 911. Anyone needing routine assistance with a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector can call the station at 410-647-1990.

“We’re a busy station, but if we’re here, we’re happy to answer questions,” Crawford said.

Additional information on smoke detector laws and requirements can be found on the Anne Arundel County Fire Department’s website under the “public education” tab.


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