There are two seemingly irrefutable laws when it comes to smoke detectors:  1- The low battery chirp will only occur between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and 2- once you think you’ve figured out the offending device, it will take forever to give a confirming chirp.

So why do we put up with smoke detectors? Because they save lives.

As the 

U.S. Fire Administration

 puts it, “a properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

According to 

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) statistics

, 60% of reported fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. In 2011, 2,520 people lost their lives in home structure fires. That means 1,512 of them might have been saved had their home had a working smoke alarm.

Of course, a home is not properly equipped if it only has 


 working smoke alarm. There need to be multiple alarms of multiple varieties. Here’s  the basic information:



he NFPA recommends

 homes have alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area and on every level of the house, basement included. They should all be interconnected, meaning if one goes off, they all do.


There are 

two types of smoke detectors

: ionization and photoelectric. Both detect different types of fires. It’s important to have both types in your home. (Or you can get dual sensor alarms which contain both types.)


The NFPA also says to replace any alarms, hardwired or battery-powered, that are more than 10 years old. Replace them sooner if they don’t respond properly.

So back to my first paragraph.

 That exact scenario happened to me a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I awoke to that chirp at 2:30 in the morning. As we wandered around trying to eliminate the non-offending devices, we discovered one that didn’t work at all. We had no idea of its age, so we just outright replaced it with a dual sensor model, complete with a hush button for nuisance kitchen alarms.

As for my home smoke detector grade: we have five detectors, in our bedroom, outside in the hall, near the kitchen, in the upstairs bedroom and in the basement. Three are now dual sensors. While I don’t know the ages of the other two, they both work. They are not interconnected though. I should probably get working on that. I would say that puts me about a 


. There’s definitely room to improve.

What’s your home’s smoke detector grade? If it’s not passing, will you please consider taking a few steps to help protect your family in the event of a fire?

And if you’re in the market for insurance, consider giving


a call.