Are smoke alarms effective?
The largest percentage of fire deaths in the home occurs at night while people are asleep. Therefore, a working smoke alarm can provide an early warning that can make the difference between life and death. According to studies published by the National Fire Protection Association, having a smoke alarm cuts your risk of dying in a fire by nearly half. However, a smoke alarm should be part of an overall home fire safety strategy that also includes preventing fires by adopting fire safe behavior, and developing and practicing a home fire escape plan. In a fire, escape time may be very limited. Therefore, escape plans are a critical aspect of a home fire safety strategy. For additional information on the effectiveness of smoke alarms, refer to the Smoke Alarm Fact sheet. Source: Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council
What is the principal reason for smoke alarms not functioning?
Over a recent three year period, an analysis was undertaken of people that died in homes where smoke alarms were present but did not work. 85% of those victims did not have a functioning smoke alarm because of a dead or missing battery/power source. Source: Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council
Which type of alarm is more effective?
There is no simple answer to this question. The two types operate on different principles and therefore may respond differently to various conditions. Some advantages to each type are set out below:
- Fastest type to respond to flaming fires
- Lowest cost and most commonly sold
- Some models have a hush or temporary silence feature that allows silencing without removing the battery
- Some models are available with a long life battery
- Fastest type to respond to slow smoldering fires and white or gray smoke
- Less prone to nuisance alarms from cooking
Notwithstanding these differences, to achieve ULC listing, both alarms must be tested to the same standard and meet the same requirements. Photoelectric smoke alarms may respond slightly faster to smoldering fires, while ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming fires. Since you can't predict the type of fire that will occur, it is difficult to recommend which is best. Both alarms will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home. Installing both types of smoke alarms in your home can enhance fire safety. Source: Fire Marshal's Public Fire Safety Council