Working smoke alarms decrease the risk of dying in reported home fires by nearly half according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In half of reported home fires in which smoke alarms were present but did not operate, the batteries had been removed or the alarm was disconnected due to dead battery alerts or nuisance alarms.

The IAFF has developed a toolkit for affiliates to promote the testing of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during Daylight Saving Time – both when it ends in the fall and begins in the spring.

As the voice of public safety in your community, now is the prime opportunity for your local to spread the message about this simple, life-saving habit to start incorporating into their everyday lives.

This toolkit includes an op-ed for local media, tweets and posts to go along with infographics for social media and PSA videos. Share the infographics and videos, along with a strong message (tag your friends in the media in any tweets to maximize your reach), on social media and send the op-eds and infographics to your local media as soon as possible.

Be sure to follow-up with reporters and assignment editors to let them know you are available to discuss the importance of checking your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Media outlets are eager for timely public safety announcements that are high quality and ready to use. Providing a steady stream of quality content will help establish a solid, positive relationship with the public and local media to ensure they continue to look to their fire fighters for safety advice all year long.

Contact [email protected] with any questions or for assistance with IAFF toolkits.

  • Nearly 60% of home fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. Check your smoke alarms when you change the clock. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips
  • ​Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective to up to 10 years. If the alarm beeps, warning that the battery is low, replace the smoke alarm right away. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips
  • Make sure to always replace your smoke alarm every 10 years. Don’t see a date on the back? Replace it! #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips
  • Your fire fighters recommend you install a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside of bathrooms, near stairwells and on each floor of your home. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips​
  • For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms. When one alarm sounds, they all sound. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips
  • Check your smoke alarms when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time​. Press and hold – you should hear a loud beep if it is good. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips
  • More than 400 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. When you install smoke alarms, install carbon monoxide detectors.​ #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips​​
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors where you install smoke alarms. If the audible trouble signal sounds, first check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department. #IAFF #IAFFSafetyTips

Installing Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
  • Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm).
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm within 3 feet of the peak but not within the apex of the peak (four inches down from the peak).
    Figure A. Smoke alarm installation
  • Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound. Interconnection can be done using hard-wiring or wireless technology.
  • When interconnected smoke alarms are installed, it is important that all of the alarms are from the same manufacturer. If the alarms are not compatible, they may not sound.
  • There are two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization-photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor smoke alarms, are recommended.
  • Keep manufacturer’s instructions for reference.

Testing Smoke Alarms

  • Smoke alarms should be maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • When replacing a battery, follow manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

More than 400 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whose data includes consumer products and vehicles.​ Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.​

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, first check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department. 
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.​


Your local newspaper is a great resource to help brand your local as the community public safety advocate. This op-ed piece is designed for you to send to your newspapers editorial team to be included in their opinion section to highlight the importance of public safety, with your local president as the author. This is an especially useful tool for smaller papers, including neighborhood weekly services. Follow up to let them know you are available to answer any questions.

Daylight Saving Time Op-Ed

What is an op-ed? An op-ed stands for “opposite editorial” and is an opinionated article submitted to a newspaper for publication. They are written by members of the community and not journalists or reporters.