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Texas Department of Insurance
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Smoke alarms: Where to put them, how often to replace batteries


A working smoke alarm cuts your risk of dying in a home fire in half.

Nearly all alarm failures are caused by missing or dead batteries. For the best protection, install a combination hard-wired alarm with battery back-up.

  1. Where to put alarms

    • Have smoke alarms on every level of your home and in each bedroom and hallway.
    • If you mount alarms on the ceiling, place them 4 inches from the wall. If your alarms are on the wall, they should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. Don’t install alarms near windows, vents, or drafty areas. Call your fire department if you aren’t sure where to put them.
    • If anyone in your home is hard of hearing, use alarms with features like strobe lights or bed shakers.
  2. Maintain your alarms

    • Test smoke alarms every month by pressing their test buttons.
    • If your alarms use regular batteries, swap in fresh batteries at least once a year. A “chirping” sound means that it’s time to change batteries.
    • Because alarm sensors wear out, replace each alarm at least every 10 years. Also, alarms have labels showing when they were made. If you don’t see a label, the alarm is old and must be replaced.
    • Dust and cobwebs make it harder for alarms to detect smoke. To preserve your alarms, dust them with a vacuum cleaner attachment.
  3. Have an escape plan

    • Prepare and practice a home fire escape plan. Choose a place outside to meet that is permanent, like a mailbox or light pole. Just like schools do fire drills, families should practice what to do when a smoke alarm sounds.
    • If your alarm goes off, crawl under the smoke and leave your home. Don’t take anything with you; just quickly get out. Once outside, go to your chosen meeting place and call 9-1-1. Never go back in a burning building.



Questions? Call us at 800-252-3439.

Last updated: 5/30/2024