Smoke Detectors - Big Protection for a Small Price!
Do smoke detectors really save lives?
Most fatal home fires occur at night, while people are asleep. Poisonous gases and smoke from a fire in your home can numb the senses in a very short time. Every home needs a device that can wake people up in time to escape from a fire. The sound of a smoke detector can do that and cut your changes of dying in a fire by 50%! Currently, 39 states have laws requiring smoke detectors in homes. California is one of those states.
How do I choose a smoke detector?
There are many brands of smoke detectors available but it is important to buy "labeled" units... those bearing the mark of an organization that tests and evaluates products such as Underwriters Laboratories. Any labeled smoke detectors offers adequate protection, but it's vital that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations for installation for, testing and maintenance.
How many do I need?
According to the widely accepted Standard on Household Fire Warning Equipment (NFPA 74), minimum protection requires smoke detectors outside each bedroom and on each additional level of the home including the basement. For extra protection, NFPA recommends that you also install detectors in the dining room, furnace room, utility room and hallways.. If your family sleeps with bedroom doors closed, you might also install detectors inside the bedrooms. Smoke detectors are not usually recommended for kitchen because of false alarms from cooking; or for garages, where exhaust fumes might cause false alarm, or for attics or other unheated spaces, where extremes of temperature or humidity might affect the operation of smoke detectors.
How do I install a smoke detector?
To install most smoke detectors, all you need is a screwdriver and a drill. Most smoke detectors operate on batteries or household current. A detector plugged into wall outlet must have a restraining device so it cannot accidentally be pulled from the outlet. Detectors can also be hard-wired into the electrical system. Never hard-wire a detector to a circuit that can be turned off at a wall switch. Because smoke rises, mount the detector high on a wall or on the ceiling to detect the first traces of smoke. For a wall-mounted unit, the top of the detector should be 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. A ceiling-mounted detector should be placed at least 4 inches from any wall. In a room with a high pitched ceiling, mount the detector on or near the ceiling's highest point.
Most home fires start in living areas-the den, family room or living room. On a floor with no bedrooms, install the required detector in or near the living area. If a stairway leads to an upper story, install the detector in the path where smoke would travel up the stairs. Don't install a detector near a window, door or air register where drafts could impair the detectors' operation. Locate a basement smoke detector close to the stairway leading to the floor above. But don't install the detector at the top of the basement stairs; dead aid space near the door may prevent smoke from reaching the detector.
How do I maintain my smoke detector?
It's extremely important to test and clean all detectors regularly. Replace batteries according to the manufacturer's recommendation or at least once per year. When you move into a new home, install new batteries in every smoke detector. Never paint a smoke detector and be sure to clean your detectors at least once a year according to manufacturer's instructions. Follow the instructions for testing and test your once per week to make sure you're protected.
What happens when the smoke detectors sounds its alarm?
Make sure everyone knows what your smoke detector sounds like. Plan at least two ways out form each room... especially the bedrooms. Set a place to meet outside your home so you'll know everyone is out. Have everyone practice the plan at least twice a year. In case of a real fire, get out of the building immediately. Once at the meeting place, have one person go to a neighbors phone to call 911. The the dispatcher your name and address and the exact location of anyone who is still in the building. Stay on the phone until you have answered all the dispatchers questions.