According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.org), fire prevention week is from October 7th through October 13th, 2012. In lieu of this, we thought we’d bring you the very important public service announcement from Fire Marshall Bill Burns, above. Seriously though, was there any funnier character on In Living Color than Fire Marshall Bill? I think not.
Anyway, now that you’ve had a few chuckles, let’s talk about preventing fires in your home. While smoke alarms cannot actually prevent a fire from igniting, they are still an important defense against injury or death in house fires. In fact, the NFPA states that nearly two-thirds of home fire fatalities happen in homes with non-working or missing smoke detectors.
Kinda hard to believe isn’t it? In 2012, you’d think that all homes in America would have smoke alarms by now right? Not the case! We’ve inspected hundreds of homes in Connecticut and even now, in this day and age, occasionally we’ll find a house with no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. Admittedly, they’re far and few in between.
However, we find plenty of homes where batteries have died in smoke detectors, leaving the homeowners with a false sense of security. Technology is only as good as the humans that control it.
Fortunately, most building codes now require smoke detectors in all residential structures, which has resulted in a steep drop in fire- and smoke-related deaths. So in light of fire prevention week, here are 7 tips for fire safety:
- Just like real estate, location is EVERYTHING! Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and on each level of the home.
- Alarms should be placed high on a wall or on the ceiling. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement. High, peaked ceilings have dead air space at the top. Smoke alarms should be placed no closer than 3 feet from the highest point.
- For areas close to the kitchen, use a detector with a hush button that can be used to silence nuisance alarms triggered by cooking smoke or steam. Works like a charm in our house! LOL. Alternatively, consider installing a photoelectric alarm, which is better at detecting smoldering fires (vs. flames) near the kitchen. And don’t remove the unit’s battery to stop or prevent nuisance alarms. Remember, technology is only as good as the human that controls it.
- There are two primary types of smoke alarm technology:
- Ionization: According to the NFPA, ionization alarms are more responsive to flames.
- Photoelectric: This type of alarm is more sensitive to smoldering fires. For the most comprehensive protection, both types or a combination unit should be installed.
- I’d take your family’s safety even a step further and recommend installing at least one carbon monoxide detector.
- Test the alarm monthly. Put a reminder in your calendar to do this on the first or last day of the month, for example. The units have a test button that will sound the alarm for a brief time when pressed. Any alarm that fails to sound should have the battery replaced. If the test button fails with a new battery, replace the entire detector immediately. Monthly testing is also an ideal time to dust off the unit.
- Replace the batteries at least once a year. Some alarms come with 10-year batteries; for these, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for battery replacement. A non-working alarm is no better than no alarm at all.
- If the alarms are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system, make sure they are interconnected for maximum effectiveness – meaning that if one alarm is triggered, all of the others will sound as well, in case you need to be woken from a deep slumber.
As adults, sometimes we forget about fire safety until one of our kids come home from school (typically around this time of year) and tell us about the firemen who came to their school to teach them about fire prevention. If you don’t have any kids to remind you, hopefully you learned something here today.
Need to get a home inspection in SE Connecticut soon? Email or call us at 860-434-2824 and we’ll be at your service!