Smoke detectors have saved thousands of lives in the United States due to their increased use over the past few decades. Although laws may vary from state to state, fire alarms are required in most residences. However, while many homes do have smoke detectors, a lot of them do not function properly and are, therefore, useless. This article will review the need for smoke alarms in many homes as well as educating readers so that they can be used to their best advantage.
Smoke Detector Requirements
Although the rules and regulations involving smoke alarm installation will vary from state to state, the National Fire Protection Association requires each house to have one installed outside sleeping areas, in each sleeping room and on each floor of the structure. Residences can choose from ionization, dual or photoelectronic devices; any of the three will meet the requirements. It may be a good idea to call in a professional to make sure your smoke detectors are installed properly, and up to code.
The Dilemma of Disconnected Smoke Detectors
Due to updated laws and requirements, more than 90% of homes in the United States have at least one smoke alarm. However, 25-30% of these alarms do not function properly. In some instances, the alarms have simply malfunctioned and in other cases, the alarms had been disconnected by the owners. Many people disconnect their alarms because they go off while they are cooking or chirp when batteries are low.
Many owners do not realize that some smoke detectors have silence buttons which will stop alarms from sounding for 10 minutes while the cooking smoke that may have set off the alarm clears. Some do not know how to work these buttons. It is a good idea to raise awareness as to the fact that these silence buttons exist and educate owners on how to use them. This may reduce the incidents in which people remove the batteries in their alarm due to nuisances.
Proper Maintenance of Smoke Detectors
In order to do all you can to protect yourself and your family from fire hazard, it is important to have a smoke detector that is in proper working order. Homeowners who have smoke detectors should be aware of some tips for basic maintenance. They are as follows:
You can ensure your alarm is functioning by simply pressing the test button on the alarm. If the alarm does not sound, and you have a battery operated alarm, try replacing the battery. If the alarm still does not work, the alarm should be replaced. If you have a hard wired system, and it is not sounding when the test button is pressed, it should be replaced immediately.
Smoke detectors typically have a life span of ten years. Some alarms will let you know they are approaching the end by making chirping noises. Others will not give any sort of indication. If you think your alarm may be in need of replacement, you can detach it from its base and check the inside label where the date should be embossed in the plastic. Other alarms may have a sticker on the outside that indicates its expiration date. It is always a good idea to add your own sticker as well, which will be a constant reminder as to when replacement is required.
If you have a hardwired alarm, you can not replace it with a battery operated device. The new alarm must be hardwired as well. If you are not sure what type of alarm you have, remove it from its base to determine if it is connected by wires or not.
You should also determine if your alarms are interconnected or not, to ensure you are replacing it with the correct unit. Most modern hardwired devices are interconnected. To be sure, you can count the number of wires that connect the alarm. A hardwired alarm that is interconnected will have three wires while one that is not will have only two.
Benefits of a Monitored System
If you are really serious about reliable fire prevention, a monitored system may be the way to go. It can be an added monthly expense but it gives you an assurance that your home is protected, especially when you’re out and there’s no one inside. A fire alarm monitoring system can help lessen the amount of time fire fighters reach your home. Once your monitoring companies receive notice that there may be a fire in your home, they are able to call emergency services, ensuring they arrive quickly, resulting in reduced property loss and chances of injury. They are also alerted when maintenance is needed ensuring your system is always functional..
Best Type of Smoke Detector for Your Home
Ionization smoke detectors respond best to fast moving, flaming fires while photoelectric units are better at detecting slow, smoldering fires. Although ionization units are more popular, you never know what kind of fire you may encounter. That’s why experts are now recommending dual sensor technology which combines both types of detectors.
As research continues to uncover new technologies, there are many advances being made in the smoke detector industry. This gives homeowners many options for keeping their homes safe. Research which type of system works best for you as well as keeping up with recommended maintenance, so you be sure you are doing all you can to protect yourself and your family.
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