Fire Safety
Smoke Alarm

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Return to: Smoke Alarm Part 1, Smoke Part 2 Carbon Monoxide, Fire Escape Plans, Fire Extinguishers, Fire Sprinklers  

Smoke Detectors SAVE LIVES

Statistics point to a fifty percent reduction in fire fatalities since the introduction of smoke alarms into the home. Although 90% of all residences have smoke alarms today, no smoke alarms were present in 42% of residential structure fires where fatalities occurred. Smoke alarms were present in 58% of fatal residential structure fires, but only operational in 37% of those fatal fires. That means that most often where smoke alarms are present in a fatal fire, the smoke alarm is nonfunctional due to dead or missing batteries.  

NOTE: Even well-maintained smoke alarms have a 30 percent chance that they will fail to operate in a fire.

Fire officials estimate that at least 50 percent of lives lost due to residential fires could be saved by installing early warning fire detection devices and developing and practicing an evacuation plan.  

WHEN YOU MOVE OUT OF A RENTED UNIT  - PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THE SMOKE DETECTOR WITH YOU. IT JUST MAY ALARM OTHER RESIDENTS OF AN EMERGENCY.

It is recommended, and sometimes required, that smoke detectors not be placed in kitchens because the small amounts of smoke and cooking matter generated while cooking  may set them off. Detectors designed for use near a kitchen may have a silence button to cancel accidental triggering

In the event of a fire, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning signal to your household. This alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape.

THERE ARE MANY LAWS IN EVERY STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT THAT REQUIRE AT LEAST ONE SMOKE DETECTOR IN EVERY HOME. THEY MUST BE LOCATED IN THE BEDROOM AREA.  IF YOU RENT, YOUR LANDLORD SHOULD HAVE SUPPLIED YOU WITH ONE. YOU SHOULD TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE THE ALARM IS WORKING. MANY LAWS ALSO REQUIRE A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR.

SMOKE DETECTOR Helpful Tip : Pick a holiday or your birthday and replace the batteries each year on that day.

Are smoke alarms hard to install? No. In most cases, all you will need is a screwdriver. Many brands are self-adhesive and will automatically stick to the wall or ceiling where they are placed. However, be sure to follow the directions from the manufacturer because each brand is different. If you are uncomfortable standing on a ladder, ask a relative or friend for help. Some fire departments will actually install a smoke alarm in your home for you. Call your local fire department (again, on a non-emergency telephone number) if you have problems installing a smoke alarm.

How do I keep my smoke alarms working? Smoke alarms are very easy to take care of. There are two steps to remember.

1.       Simply replace the batteries at least once a year.  

2.       Keep them clean. Dust and debris can interfere with their operation, so vacuum over and around your smoke alarm regularly.

What if the alarm goes off while I'm cooking? Then it's doing its job. Do not disable your smoke alarm if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the alarm after cooking. Instead, clear the air by waving a towel near the alarm, leaving the batteries in place. The alarm may have to be moved to a new location. BUT DO NOT REMOVE IT FROM THE HOUSE.

How long will my smoke alarm last? About eight-to-ten years, after which it should be replaced. Like most electrical devices, smoke alarms wear out. You may want to write the purchase date with a marker on the inside of your unit. That way, you'll know when to replace it. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacement.

Anything else I should know? Some smoke alarms are considered to be "hard wired." This means they are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery back-up. It's important to test every smoke alarm monthly. And always use new batteries when replacing old ones.

More Facts: Some smoke alarms now on the market come with a ten-year battery. These alarms are designed to be replaced as a whole unit, thus avoiding the need for battery replacement. If your smoke alarm starts making a "chirping" noise, replace the batteries and reset it.

Replacing smoke alarms.

Like any appliance, smoke alarms wear out after time. Ten years is the recommended replacement time.

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