Smoke alarm basics

Smoke alarm basics
Posted on 02/26/2024
person installing smoke detector in ceiling

Daylight saving time (March 10, 2024) is a great reminder to change your smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries. If your alarms are ready to be replaced, here’s what you need to know.

Choosing a smoke detector

Smoke alarms primarily use two types of sensing technologies:

  • Photoelectric smoke alarms detect smoke faster in slow, smoldering fires.

  • Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to detect the smaller smoke particles produced in fast-spreading fires.

Dual sensor alarms are recommended for the best protection. 
The Lenexa Fire Department recommends installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside every bedroom and outside all sleeping areas. 

Are you or someone you know deaf or hard of hearing? The Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal will provide a bed shaker and/or smoke alarm strobe for those who meet certain criteria. Visit to learn more.

Smoke detector disposal

Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Photoelectric detectors can be placed in your standard trash bin for disposal after the batteries are removed (if possible).

Ionization smoke detectors use a small amount of radioactive material called americium-241 to detect smoke. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s OK to throw these away with your regular household garbage. Some manufacturers will recycle these types of detectors. Visit your alarm manufacturer’s website to learn more.

Published Feb. 26, 2024