San Diego Union-Tribune (Sunday)

homestyle Where there’s smoke, there’s smart

Why smart smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for your home


Anyone who installs smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their home is no dummy. But you can up your safety IQ and provide a higher level of protection for your family by replacing convention­al units with smar t ones.

Smar t smoke and carbon monoxide detectors/alarms often work with a smar tphone app, allowing you to control the device via your phone and receive alerts when the alarm goes off, which is par ticularly helpful if you’ re not home. Many also integrate with smart security systems, automatica­lly alerting the fire department if a problem is detected. And many smart alarms also boast inter connectivi­ty so that if one alarm sounds, the rest get triggered, too.

“There are many features found in smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that are not present in convention­al models,” said Sharon Cooksey, communicat­ions manager for Kidde, the Mebane, North Carolina headquarte­red maker of fire protection devices. “In addition to voice alerts and wireless interconne­ctivity, many provide a quick installati­on process, colorcoded status rings and the ability to operate seamlessly without internet access. It’s important to upgrade and replace your home’s older alarms to benefit from these advanced technologi­es and the latest testing requiremen­ts from industr y exper ts like Under writer Laboratori­es and the National Fire Protection Associatio­n” (NFPA).

Smar t devices that generate aler ts can notify you of many impor tant matters – not just a fire.

“Some of these units can send notificati­ons to your phone to let you know if you have dust in the system or the batteries are weak and need to be changed, for example,” noted Chuck Roydhouse, a retired profession­al firefighte­r in Millersvil­le, Mar yland, and president of the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

“But perhaps the most crucial feature to look for is a smart

alarm that will notify emergency ser vices. This is especially important if you’re dealing with carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas,” Roydhouse said. “If you are overcome by carbon monoxide and don’t see your phone aler t going off or hear the alarm, your smart carbon monoxide detector can automatica­lly notify your security system’s monitoring ser vice, which will send help.”

Seniors are particular­ly wor thy candidates for these devices. According to the NFPA, adults 65 and older are twice as likely to die in a house fire compared to the population at large.

Popular brands include

Google Nest Protect, Kidde’s Intelligen­t Wire-free Alarm, First Aler t Z-wave Smoke/co Alarm, Firstalert Onelink, and the Vivint Smoke Alarm. Depending on the device, it can either be hard-wired or operate with batteries. Each has its pros and cons.

“For example, Nest Protect tests its batteries and sensors, has a path light that turns on when it detects motion and can differenti­ate between smoke and steam,” explains Elena Mauer, consumer and safety editor for Securityne­ based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The First Alert Z-wave alarm is compatible with Z-wave smar t home products, including the Ring Alarm security kit. Firstalert Onelink includes a built-in Alexa

Assistant. And Vivint Smoke Alarm can work together with its smart thermostat so that if there’s a fire, the air conditioni­ng turns off to stop or slow the spread of fire.”

Cooksey noted that Kidde’s Intelligen­t Wire-free Alarm has wireless interconne­ctivity, “which means the alarm communicat­es with other linked alarms without the need for wiring or internet access. This technology is an impor tant tool in the fight against deaths resulting from residentia­l fires, considerin­g that people have less than three minutes, on average, to escape once a fire begins.”

Compatibil­ity is another impor tant factor to ponder.

“Consider your other smar t home devices or security system to find a detector that will integrate seamlessly,” said Mauer.

Expect to pay around $40 to $150 for a smar t smoke/carbon monoxide unit.

“Think about the price of your well-being and the safety of your home and property. That will help you justify spending the extra money on a smar t upgrade,” Roydhouse said. “It’s definitely wor th it.”

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, whether smar t or convention­al, should be placed throughout your home in key positions, including in each bedroom, in or near the kitchen, in hallways outside bedrooms, near fireplaces and stair ways, and in basements and walk-up attics, Mauer suggested.

Lastly, if you live in a home with wired alarms/ detectors and can’t swap them out for smar t ones, add a smar t monitor instead — such as the Ring Alarm Smoke & CO Listener. Devices like these can aler t you by phone when they hear your alarms sounding.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Some smar t smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can notify the fire department directly, a good option for older adults who are more at risk to die in a house fire.
GETTY IMAGES Some smar t smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can notify the fire department directly, a good option for older adults who are more at risk to die in a house fire.

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