Smoke Detectors have saved thousands of lives and, though often ignored, are the most important appliance in your home. For this reason, modern building standards require smoke detectors throughout the home, and in Georgia residences, smoke detectors are required in every bedroom, hallway, garage, and basement.

The most important safety feature of modern smoke detectors is their ability to link to each other. Linked smoked detectors all sound together when one smoke detector senses smoke. This means a fire down in the basement or out in the garage will sound the smoke alarms in all of the bedrooms upstairs or on the other side of the house. Many homes were built before this method became standard and have only stand-alone battery-powered smoke detectors if any at all. Unfortunately, a smoke detector is only effective if someone hears it. A smoke detector sounding in the basement doesn’t do any good for a person sleeping on the second floor.

In 2007, a deadly John’s Creek fire took the lives of a Fulton County firefighter and a homeowner. News outlets report that the fire may have started from candles on the back porch and then spread to the rest of the house. The homeowners woke after hearing their dog barking but only one homeowner was able to escape in the thick smoke. Their house was built before modern smoke detector standards were put in place and no mention was made of working smoke detectors or their locations.

A National Fire Protection Agency study found that the death rate of reported fires is twice as high in homes without working smoke detectors than in those with working smoke detectors and the installation of working smoke detectors in every home would save more than 800 lives each year. While almost 100 percent of homeowners report that they have at least one smoke detector, fewer than 70 percent actually do. Battery operated smoke detectors account for most of the non-working smoke detectors these homeowners are relying on to save their lives in the event of a fire.

Given these facts, test your smoke detectors. Check the batteries and use the test button. Make sure you have a smoke detector in every bedroom, hallway, garage and mechanical room. When you test your smoke detectors, all of the smoke detectors in your home should sound off together. If they do not, your smoke detectors are not looped and your home is lacking protection.