More than 77 million smoke alarms in America are outdated. That's 1 in 3! Fire safety experts strongly recommend that, to ensure safety, you replace your smoke alarms before they are 10 years old.
RECALL NOTICE: First Alert Electronic Smoke Detector Model 18391 has been recalled. If you have these smoke detectors installed in your home, call FIRST ALERT CONSUMER HOTLINE at 1-800-323-9005 for immediate replacement.
Communities across the country are reporting families saved from certain tragedy thanks to the early warning of residential smoke detectors. This continuing evidence of the effectiveness of smoke detectors points to an opportunity for dramatically reducing the 6,600+ residential fire deaths that occur every year in the United States. In fact, if all of our nation's homes were protected by smoke detectors, the residential loss of life could be reduced by more than 40%. This would significantly impact our national fire problem, because more than 90% of the nation's building fire deaths occur in residential buildings. The fires in offices, schools, hospitals, and places of assembly receive a good deal of attention, but the major problem is the home fires that, although they claim fewer lives at a time, they do so with greater frequency.
Smoke detectors help the home occupants by giving early warning so they can escape. In addition, the earlier the fire is discovered, the less property the fire can destroy before it is extinguished. The smoke detector can also help the fire department: The alarm can warn of fire while it is still small, making extinguishing easier. When the dwelling occupants escape from a burning home because of an early warning, the fire fighter does not have to attempt an unnecessary or risky rescue.
Fire fighting is the most hazardous occupation in the United States, and search and rescue is one of the most dangerous services performed by the fire fighter. While the early warning is often accredited with saving lives of the home's occupants, don't forget that the smoke detector's warning may have also protected a firefighter. When smoke detectors are not in the home, the firefighter is then forced to try to make up the difference.
One of the most important inventions of modern times is the smoke detector. They are inexpensive and rather easy to install. The following rules are important:
- First install a smoke detector within 15 feet of all sleeping areas. (Ideally, a smoke detector should be installed in every room.)
- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home.
- Smoke detectors are also recommended in laundry and furnace rooms.
- Smoke detectors run on batteries in most cases. The battery should be checked weekly and replaced when the battery becomes low--minimally, at least twice a year when you change your clocks.
- NEVER remove the battery without replacing it.
- NEVER use a smoke detector battery for other uses. Nothing can be more important than an operable smoke detector.
- When traveling, take a smoke detector with you for your family's safety.
A smoke detector is a type of fire alarm. Some look like a small dinner plate, only thicker. A smoke detector is placed high in a room because smoke rises. It can detect smoke and sound an alarm before you ever see or smell the smoke.
There are many smoke detectors on the market. Some operate on batteries, others use the house's electrical system with built-in battery backup in case of a power failure.
With battery units you must replace the batteries. With electric units you do not have this problem. If the power goes out during a fire, the smoke detector will not work unless it is equipped with a battery
Some questions which should be answered when buying a smoke detector.
- Has the smoke detector been tested and approved by a national testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratory)? Its seal of approval should be on the unit.
- Are batteries included? How long do they last? How much do they cost? Can the batteries be bought locally or do they need to be special ordered?
- Does the unit have a light signal and a sound signal to let you know when the battery needs replacing?
- Does the unit have a test switch so you can practice fire drills and learn to recognize the sound of the alarm?
- Can you test the unit at the store by blowing smoke into it? If not, test the unit at home before installing it.
Battery operated and electrically powered smoke detectors can be attached directly to the ceiling or to a wall, 5 to 12 inches below the ceiling. Wired-in electric detectors may require installation by a qualified electrician.
Place the detector near the bedrooms, within 15 feet of sleeping areas. Place them in an area away from air vents. If installing more than one detector, it is a good idea to place one on each level of the house. It's the law in some areas.
The basement ceiling near the steps to the first level is a good location. Additional detectors can be installed near the furnace and washer and dryer