How fast are you at exiting your home? Faster than 2 minutes? How about your whole family? Now add this variable. YOU ARE ALL SLEEPING.
I can't tell you how frustrated I am as a Home Inspector when I go into a home for an inspection and find very little or sometimes close to no Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors present. It is the very first thing I look for on an inspection. And I have done thousands of home inspections. Both for a Municipal and as a State of Illinois Certified Home Inspector.
Back to the 2 minute drill. I was told by fire department personnel that you have 2 minutes to get out of the house, if the house catches on fire. I was also told that you don't die from the fire (flame) itself. You die from the smoke. Well, as an inspector, I practice what is called "trust, but verify". I always do my own research and I recommend you to do the same even if it is a good source.
What did I find?
The two minutes is a pretty good number. You see there is something in house fires called a "flashover". If you take a look at this video you are going to want to know why 2 minutes and under is the side you want to be on because you don't want to be stuck in the house after a "flashover". This video does a better explanation than I ever would. Please watch:
Please check your Smoke and CO detectors every year. I check mine twice a year. In the spring and in the fall. There is a few different ways you can check them but at the bare minimum push the button on the detector and make sure it goes off. Also, change the batteries.
Where should Smoke and CO detectors be installed?
At the very least install them as I list below:
Smoke Detectors: In every bedroom and on every floor.
CO Detectors: On every floor and in hallways next to bedroom.
Also, about 25ft from every fireplace inside your home you should have a Smoke/CO Combo unit.
What Detectors are better, Hard wired or battery detectors?
One of the best detector system is a hard wired system with a battery backup in each unit. A hard wired system interconnects all the detectors so when one goes off, the rest go off with it. If you can not hard wire the detectors that a battery detector is better than none at all.
Stay safe and thanks for reading.
John Sclafani, Park Ridge, IL
Illinois Licensed Home Inspector