Smoke Alarm Safety

The Apex Fire Department reminds to change your batteries in your smoke alarms as you change your clocks! Don’t forget to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarm also.

The Danger

Over 6,000 deaths occur in house fires each year. Most people die from smoke and toxic gases rather than the fire itself. Many never even wake up. Most fire deaths are preventable. Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Purchase one or more smoke alarms.
  • Install your alarms properly.
  • Identify escape routes and practice escaping.
  • Maintain your alarms.
  • A smoke alarm is a fire alarm that buzzes when it detects smoke, warning you in time to escape.

Purchasing Smoke Alarms

  • Smoke alarms can be either house current or battery operated. Either kind does a good job.
  • Make sure the model you choose has been listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (Underwriters Laboratory or Factory Mutual).
  • A smoke alarm may be purchased at most retail stores for about $10 - $30.
  • There should be a least one smoke alarm in every household. Additional alarms will significantly increase your chances of survival.


  • If you can handle a screwdriver, you can install most smoke alarms.
  • Smoke alarms should be placed on the ceiling or high on a wall near the bedrooms. This enables the alarm to sense the smoke as it approaches the sleeping area. Install your smoke alarm away from air outlet vents to prevent dust accumulation. Call your local fire station for advice on the best place to install your alarms.
  • Battery-operated and "plug-in" electric alarms can be attached directly to the ceiling or wall.
  • "Wired-in" electric alarms are somewhat more difficult to install and may require an electrician.

Know How to Escape

Your smoke alarm will awaken you, but you may not be thinking clearly. You should practice escaping before an emergency strikes. Learn more about fire escape plans here.

Once a fire has started, it spreads rapidly. You may have only seconds to get out. Normal exits from bedrooms may be blocked by smoke or fire. It is important everyone knows exactly what to do.

Identify Escape Routes

Plan 2 exits from every room. Second story windows may need a rope or chain ladder to enable occupants to escape safely. Choose a meeting place outside the home so you’ll know everyone has escaped.

Practice Escaping

Practice allows you to test your plan before a real emergency. You may not be able to reach your children! It is important that they know exactly what to do.

Maintenance is Important

Your smoke alarm must be maintained properly to provide you and your family with protection. Be sure to do the following in order to ensure that your alarm work properly:

  • Replace batteries and bulbs according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to change batteries when you change your clocks!
  • Dust the grill of your alarm.
  • Test your alarm periodically according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Apex Fire Department will be glad to help citizens who have questions about smoke alarms. To speak to a fire professional, call (919) 362-4001 during normal business hours.