Every second matters in the event of a fire, and smoke alarms frequently warn homeowners of the danger first. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of death from a fire is 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms – making installing these life-saving devices in your home a no-brainer.
But one thing that is not as simple is knowing how many smoke alarms you need. You may be wondering how many smoke detectors per square foot are needed in a home. In general, larger homes need more detectors, but the number varies from house to house depending on the size of the home, the number of floors, and the number bedrooms.
According to the NFPA, smoke alarms should be installed in the following areas:
- In every bedroom
- Outside each sleeping area
- On every level of the home (including the basement)
On floors that do not have bedrooms, the NFPA recommends placing smoke alarms in the living room, den, or family room, or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
So instead of wondering “how many smoke detectors do I need?”, you could ask, “do I have alarms in these areas of my home?”.
How many smoke detectors are required by law?
Smoke alarm regulations vary from state to state. Check the local laws or codes for information specific to your area.
Where should smoke alarms be placed within a room?
Since smoke rises, smoke detectors should be placed high on walls or on the ceiling. If you choose to place your alarm on a wall, it should be no more than 12 inches away from the ceiling.
Alternatively, smoke alarms should not be placed close to ducts, windows or doors where airflow may interfere with their operation.
How do I maintain my smoke detectors?
Your job is not finished once you install your smoke detectors. Maintaining your smoke alarms is critical, as roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes that do not have smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. A best practice is to test your smoke detectors once a month to ensure they are all working properly and replacing smoke alarms every 10 years.