One of the first steps in keeping homes fire safe is to install smoke alarms. They play a crucial role in alerting household residents to potential danger and they reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by about half. The majority of home fire deaths that do occur happen in homes without working smoke alarms. This presentation card is ideal for conveying the need-to-know facts about smoke alarms in order to help communities become safer.
The card begins by addressing proper smoke alarm placement. Smoke alarms need to be installed on every level of a house, including the basement, as well as outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. They should be placed on ceilings, four to 12 inches from the wall, or high on the wall, four to 12 inches from the ceiling. But they should not be placed in corners or near vents, doors, or windows. Smoke alarms placed in the kitchen, bathroom, or garage are more likely to have false alarms due to cooking fumes, steam, and other air particles.
There are two main types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. They are both reliable, but for maximum protection, “dual sensor” alarms should be installed. These alarms combine ionization and photoelectric technologies to ensure that both fast-moving and smoldering fires are detected in a timely manner. Interconnected alarms can also be installed. These alarms communicate with each other so that when one sounds, they all sound.
If smoke alarms are not propery maintained, it’s the same as having no smoke alarms at all. They need to be tested every month, regardless of whether they’re battery powered or hardwired. Batteries need to be replaced every six months and especially if the alarm “chirps” to signal a low battery. And every eight to 10 years, or according to the manufacturer’s specifications, alarms should be replaced.
False alarms may happen from time to time, but disabling a smoke alarm is never a good response in these instances. Instead, press the alarm’s “hush” button or open a window or turn on a fan to ventilate the area. The air can also be cleared by waving a towel underneath the alarm. If false alarms happen frequently, the unit may need to be moved farther from the kitchen.
The card’s concluding messages stress the importance of being fire ready every day. Everyone in the home needs to know what the smoke alarm sounds like, how to safely evacuate the home, where to meet outside in the event of a fire, and how to call for help in an emergency. Regular fire drills during the day and at night can help the household prepare for emergencies. Taking the proper precautions can mean the difference between life and death.