WORKING SMOKE DETECTORS SAVE LIVES...................................

Don’t be foolish enough to think a barking dog will awaken you or that you will smell smoke--don’t count on it.

Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors provide early warning of a fire. When there is a fire in your home, you are twice as likely to survive when you have working smoke detectors.

For minimum protection, install a smoke detector outside of each bedroom or sleeping area in your home. Better yet, install detectors on every level of your home. Keep your bedroom doors closed while you are asleep.

Drawn By J. Campion (34960 bytes)Keep your smoke detectors properly maintained. Test them at least once every month to make sure they work:




How effective are smoke detectors?

Residential fire deaths have decreased steadily as the number of homes with smoke detectors increased. Reports from the National Fire Protection Association on residential fire deaths show that people have nearly a 50 percent better chance of surviving a fire if their home has the recommended number of smoke detectors.

How many detectors should I have?

The average sized home or apartment needs more than one smoke detector. The exact number depends on the number of levels in the home and the number of bedrooms. National fire safety standards recommend a minimum of one detector on each level of the home, one detector outside the bedroom area, and one in each bedroom. The detector that is placed outside of the bedroom area should be installed near enough to be heard at night through a closed bedroom door.

Does it make a difference if they are installed on the wall or ceiling?

Yes. Detectors installed on the ceiling will usually respond quicker to a fire than those installed on a wall. This is because hot gases from a fire will rise first to the ceiling and then bank down to the walls. Additionally, a detector installed improperly on a wall may not operate at all.

Is there more than one type of smoke detector, and what is the difference?

There are two types of smoke detectors for homes. One type is called an ionization detector because it monitors ions, or electrically charged particles. Smoke particles entering the sensing chamber change the electrical balance of the air. The detector’s horn will sound when the change in electrical balance reaches a preset level.

The other type of detector is called photoelectric because its sensing chamber uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the light sensor. The detector sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.

There is also a combination detector that incorporates both photoelectric and ionization sensors in a single unit.

Is one type better than the other?

The ionization detector responds faster to small smoke particles, while the photoelectric responds faster to large smoke particles. Usually fast-flaming fires produce more small smoke particles and smoldering fires produce more large particles. Thus, the response time of the two types of detectors will vary, depending on the mix of small and large smoke particles in the fire. Both types, however, activate in either type of fire situation.

What is more important, the type of detector or the number?

The number and the positioning of detectors is more important that the type. Installing several smoke detectors of each type or using combination detectors will provide better coverage for long-term smoldering or fast flaming fires. The most important thing however, is to install enough detectors in the proper locations regardless of type.

When Should I replace my smoke detector?

Smoke detectors that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced. A smoke detector constantly monitors the air 24 hours a day. At the end of 10 years, it has gone through over 3.5 million monitoring cycles. After this much use, components may become less reliable. This means that as the detector gets older, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases. Replacing them after 10 years reduces this possibility.

My detectors are wired into my electrical system. Do I need to replace them as often as battery-operated detectors?

Yes. Both types of detectors are equally affected by age.

What about changing batteries?

The detector will sound a short beep about once every minute, when a battery reaches the end of its service life. When this low battery warning is heard the batteries should be replaced. The most effective way to insure that you always have operable batteries in your smoke detectors is to change them twice a year at the same time you reset your clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

My detector goes off when I cook. How can I stop this?

If the detector activates when smoke from cooking is unusually heavy, you can silence the detector by fanning it with a newspaper to clear the smoke from the chamber. Don't remove the batteries. This is a bad idea as you may forget to replace them (See Why Detectors Don't Work below). If a detector is being activated by normal cooking activity then repositioning the detector to a location further away from the cooking area is one way to resolve the problem. If repositioning the detector is not feasible, then it could be replaced with a detector which has a button to silence it for a few minutes.

How can I test my detector?

Every smoke detector comes with a test button. Detectors should be tested regularly, at least once a month.

Should I use real smoke to test my detectors?

NO. The burning object used to generate the real smoke could cause a real fire.

How important is it to clean my detectors?

It is very important. Dust accumulation and cooking residue can significantly increase the time it takes a detector to respond to a fire. Fortunately, cleaning is easy. Simply vacuum the detector. to remove dust and residue from the openings.

I've heard about fires where smoke detectors didn't work. Why?

The most common reason that smoke detectors fail to operate is due to people removing the batteries. This is often done to silence the detector because of a nuisance alarm or to stop the low battery warning beep and then forgetting to replace them. The only time batteries should be removed from a smoke detector is when you replace them.

Time is crucial. When your smoke detector sounds,

you may only have a minute or two to escape.

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