Expert offers advice about smoke detectors for the holiday season

What do Christmas trees and candles have in common? They both cause fires!As the holiday season approaches, everyone should check their smoke detectors and possibly install new smoke detectors.Research by Dr. B. Don Russell, Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has shown that many commercially available smoke detectors will not detect certain fires frequently caused by overloaded extension cords powering Christmas tree lights or those ignited by candles. The most common type of smoke detectors, called ionization detectors, have been shown to react very slowly and may not sound at all.Based on his research, Russell advises the following to protect your family:• Purchase and install smoke detectors for every bedroom and in hallways leading to bedrooms. • When possible, purchase smoke detectors that can be "interconnected" so that when one detector sounds, all the detectors in the house will sound. •Install both photoelectric and ionization detectors. You can best do this by buying "combination" smoke detectors that include both technologies. Read the label and look for the words "ionization" and "photoelectric." • Replace detectors that are over 10 years old with combination detectors.A few minutes effort and a visit to your local store may save your family's life. Thousands of homes burn each year, many during the holiday season. Scores of people lose their lives every year because their smoke detectors did not provide a warning