we're wrapping up the holidays, preparing for the New Year
and all going in different directions of our lives. This is
the time we take for granted safety in our homes. With extra
decorations, activities and cold weather the chance for fire
fires claim thousands of lives and billions of dollars in
property each year. Responsible, informed use of smoke detectors
can limit a fire's path of destruction to property and not
placed alarms or detectors without batteries, however, provide
no safety benefits. Smoke detectors should be treated as a
top-priority appliance. Batteries should be tested monthly
and replaced immediately if low.
no circumstances should smoke detector batteries be removed
to power toys or other items. And, if the shrill alarm goes
off due to incidental smoke from cooking, the detector should
be moved to another location or replaced with a less sensitive
detector -- not disconnected.
two main types of smoke detectors are ionization, which respond
better to open flames; and photoelectric, which are better
at detecting smoldering fires. For the best protection, homes
should contain both types.
floor should have a smoke detector. Placing detectors near
bedrooms is a must.
shouldn't be blocked by any structures. Ideally, they should
be placed on the ceiling in the middle of hallways and rooms,
at least four inches from any wall. A detector placed on a
sidewall should be at least 12 inches from the ceiling. In
addition, detectors should be located three feet or more from
heating or ventilation ducts so smoke is not dissipated before
it reaches the detector. Upper floors should have detectors
near stairwells to catch smoke rising from lower floors.
detectors shouldn't be placed on uninsulated outside walls,
on ceilings below uninsulated attics, or on ceilings containing
radiant heating coils. The temperature variations these placements
can cause may hinder the detector's effectiveness.
purchasing a smoke detector, make sure it is UL listed and
read the manufacturer's instructions to be sure it will work
in the desired location. Detectors should have a sound output
of at least 85 decibels at a distance of 10 feet.
smoke detectors with a fully charged fire extinguisher. Both
detectors and extinguishers can be purchased at relatively
little cost at most local hardware stores. Extinguishers,
like detectors, should be tested regularly (about once a year)
and kept in functioning condition at all times. Also, carbon
monoxide detectors are recommended as an added precaution
for homes using wood-burning stoves, fireplaces or kerosene
you do not have a smoke detector, make that the first item
on your next shopping trip. Be safe.
August 1, 2002
">August 1, 2002