Smoke Detectors: Use & Installation


Fire is a deadly threat to any household. It can strike anywhere, at any time. The frightening truth is that in 2000, there were nearly 370,000 home fires in the U.S. resulting in over 20,000 injuries and deaths combined. You must be prepared by using the tools for fire protection.

Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire. Smoke alarms are the easiest, most cost-efficient way to alert your family of a developing fire. The more smoke alarms you have installed in your home, the more your chances increase that you will survive the fire.

Smoke can kill. Since most fire fatalities occur between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., when most people are sleeping, the only thing between you, the deadly fumes from the fire and a safe escape is the loud sound from the smoke alarm. The poisonous gases emitted by a fire can put human beings and animals into a deeper sleep. This will cause you to sleep during the fire and die from both the smoke inhalation and flames. A smoke detector can help to warn all of the family.

Several smoke alarms must be installed and maintained for proper fire protection. Smoke alarms should be installed on every living level of the home, inside every bedroom, and in the main corridor outside each bedroom area. Mount smoke alarms in the middle of the ceiling when ceiling mounted. If that is not possible mount detectors on the wall at least three feet away from a corner and 4 - 6 inches away from the ceiling. Keep smoke alarms away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. The moving air can blow smoke away from the sensor. Avoid placing smoke alarms too near the kitchen stove and bathroom shower. Mount basement alarms at the bottom of the basement stairwell.

What Type Do I Need?

First, establish how many smoke alarms you will need and where you will install each alarm. Once you know which rooms will have smoke alarms, you can determine which features are best suited for that area. You can purchase smoke alarms that have specialized features for the hallway, kitchen, workshop, child's bedroom, or other specific locations. For example, the smoke alarm carton marked "Ideal for kitchen" has a silencing button that will quiet cooking false alarms for up to three minutes. Certain models come with dual ion and photoelectric smoke sensing technologies reduces nuisance alarms and if the alarm does sound, it can be silenced using a standard TV remote control. There are two basic types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectronic. Both types are effective at detecting smoke and fire. Each type has its own detecting system and is either an AC-operated smoke alarm or battery-operated smoke alarms. Some AC alarms come with a battery back-up system. Additional features can include an escape light, silencing button, or light test feature.

What should I Do When Smoke Alarm Goes Off?

If the smoke alarm is sounding, there is a reason. That reason is smoke, heat and possibly fire. You and your family must be able to escape quickly and safely. NEVER IGNORE THE SOUND OF A SMOKE ALARM. Here are several steps your family can learn and rehearse for an emergency:

   1. Have an escape plan. The family should discuss and rehearse escape plans. Know two exits from any room in the house. If this is work related the company must also prepare in case of a fire.
   2. Before you open a door, you must feel the door to see if it is hot or not. If the doorknob or door is hot, do not use that exit. Use your alternate exit to escape.
   3. Once the door is open, you must crawl on the floor. Smoke from a fire rises and so does the temperature. If you crawl on the floor there will be less smoke and the heat from the fire will be less severe.
   4. The family should meet at a prearranged spot outside the home. This will make it easier for everyone to meet outside and to know if everyone is safe or not.
   5. Call the fire department from your mobile phone or a neighbor's home. Be prepared to give your full name and address to the operator. Stay on the line until the operator has all of the information needed.
   6. Do not go back inside a burning home or building. You should not reenter the house for any reason. It may be very difficult for you to wait for the firefighters if a family member and/or friend is still inside the burning home or building. Remember that the firemen will arrive very soon. They are know if and how to reenter the building or home and have special gear and fire equipment that give them a much better chance of saving lives and getting back out.

Installing Fire Extinguishers

Where you install the fire extinguishers is a very important consideration for proper fire protection and the lives of your family members. Quite often, a fire extinguisher is improperly located and is not easily accessible or do not work properly. The basic protection for any home would be to install one fire extinguisher on every floor in your home. Fire fighters and fire safety companies suggest that you install 2 fire extinguishers on each floor of your home. They also suggest that you install a fire extinguisher in every room that poses a potential fire hazard. Those rooms are your kitchen, garage, and workshop. You should mount the fire extinguishers on the wall 3 1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. The location should be near an exit or an escape route from the room.

Finally Using A Fire Extinguisher:

   1. PULL THE PIN: This will let you depress the hand lever which releases the extinguishing agent.
   2. AIM: Point the nozzel at the base of the fire.
   3. SQUEEZE THE HANDLE: This will release the extinguishing agent.
   4. MOVE FROM SIDE TO SIDE: Continue the movement while aiming at the base of the fire until the fire is out. If the fire appears to be out continue using the extinguisher for at least one extra minute.