Smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play an important role in reducing the number of deaths and injuries that result from fires. If there is a fire in your home or business, smoke spreads rapidly and it is vital to have properly working smoke alarms to give you plenty of time to get out.
Types of smoke alarms
Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
- Photoelectric smoke alarms respond faster to slow burning fires. These fires tend to smolder for hours and produce large amounts of smoke.
- Common causes of smoldering fires are cigarettes, fireplace embers, and electrical shorts.
- Smoldering fires often occur in drapes, bedding, carpeting, and upholstered furniture.
Ionization Smoke Alarms
- Ionization smoke alarms respond more quickly to fast flaming fires. These fires tend to ignite quickly and produce large flames, but less smoke.
- Common causes of flaming fires are combustibles that burn rapidly, such as gasoline or other flammable liquids, newspapers, cleaning products, and cooking grease.
Combination smoke alarms are available so that you can be protected no matter the type of fire.
Proper Installation of Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking. Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm).
Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room, den or family room, or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.
Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound. Interconnection can be done using hard-wiring or wireless technology. When interconnected smoke alarms are installed, it is important that all of the alarms are from the same manufacturer. If the alarms are not compatible, they may not sound.
Maintaining Smoke Alarms
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
- Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away. A good rule of thumb is when time changes change your batteries.
- When replacing a battery, follow manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.
Businesses have a separate set of OSHA regulations they must follow, to read up on these requirements please check out our next post.
There is no substitute for a smoke alarm, having a properly installed and maintained smoke alarm in your home is vital to your safety should a fire break out.
Look for a combination smoke alarm so that you are protected no matter what type of fire breaks out.
If you have any questions about fire safety please contact one of our specialists at Elyon Fire & Life Safety.