Tips on Home Fire Alarms Every Family Should Implement

Home fire alarms are one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect your family. These inexpensive, easy to install devices act as early warning signals, and may allow you or anyone else in your home, sufficient time to reach safety. In fact, according to statistics, smoke and fire alarms reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Recent research has shown that an estimated one-third of home fire alarms are not working properly due to a lack of maintenance or improper installation. By following a few basic tips, you can protect your family by ensuring the earliest possible warning and giving them the precious seconds they need to escape danger.

  1. Make sure that you have the right number of alarms for your home and that they are properly installed. It is recommended that you have a minimum of two fire alarms on each floor of your home, including basements and garages. Since smoke and dangerous gases rise, it is important to place alarms on ceilings or high on walls. Install devices outside sleeping areas, and if you sleep with your bedroom door closed, it is suggested that you place one inside the room.
  2. Heat from hot appliances such as ovens or fireplaces, and steam from showers or cooking can cause alarms to sound unnecessarily. To avoid this, be sure to place alarms away from these areas. It is also important to install detectors a sufficient distance from doors and windows since drafts or ventilation can reduce effectiveness.
  3. It is vital that your fire alarm is installed according to the manufacturers instructions. If you are unsure, it is wise to contact a professional or ask your local fire department to come inspect your home for fire safety. Proper installation and correct choice of location will ensure early warning and give you more time to implement escape plans.
  4. Check batteries regularly. Approximately 20% of fire alarms have dead batteries. It is important to check all the alarms in your home monthly and to make a habit of changing all batteries twice yearly. It is often suggested that battery replacement coincide with time zone changes, using the changing of the clock as a reminder to maintain your smoke detectors.
  5. If you hear chirping or beeping, this is probably a sign of a low battery or trouble with the power supply. Replace the battery and check your smoke alarms to make sure that they are still working properly.
  6. Since age, dust, and other contaminates can damage alarms and reduce their effectiveness, you should replace any devices that are 10 years or older.
  7. Regular maintenance is important. Vacuum dust and cobwebs from your alarm as these can reduce sensitivity to heat or smoke and degrade sensors. Also, fire alarm covers are there for a purpose. Be sure to always keep the cover on, and if you lose it, replace it! Protecting the sensors is one way to ensure that your detector will function properly when it is needed.
  8. Do not disconnect or pull batteries. Sometimes an alarm will sound because of steam or excessive heat. It is tempting to silence nuisance alarms by temporarily removing the battery. However, this is not recommended since it is quite likely that you may forget to re-install the battery. Instead, simply move your alarm to another location or purchase a detector with a hush button that will allow you to silence or “pause” the alarm in a non-fire or non-dangerous situation.
  9. Be sure to purchase the proper alarm. Before buying a fire alarm, check the package to make sure it has the UL symbol. This label ensures that the product meets all required safety standards and complies with government safety regulations.
  10. A dual-sensing alarm is also recommended since these devices will detect both smoldering smoke and burning fires.
  11. Develop a fire escape plan. Smoke detectors may provide an early warning of fire, but the sounding of the alarm should not create panic and pandemonium. To complement your alarm system, it is important to devise a fire escape plan and discuss it with everyone who lives in your home. Each person should know exactly what to do when they hear the alarm and be able to react quickly and calmly.
  12. Home fire alarms save lives. But, to do their job effectively they must be installed, maintained, and used properly.

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