Sound the Alarm on Home Fire Safety
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is sponsoring National Fire Prevention Week October 3-9. The theme this year — "Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!" — is designed to encourage people to know what smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors sound like.
It's difficult to imagine a house not having smoke alarms these days, but according to Good Housekeeping, there are 5 million homes in the U.S. that don't have them. If your home is one of those 5 million, you need to install them. But first you have to know what kind to install and where to install them.
What Kind to Install
When you go to your local supply store to buy smoke alarms, you'll see there are different types—ionization, photoelectric, dual sensor and even smart home smoke alarms. Ionization alarms respond to flames and photoelectric respond to smoldering fires. The dual sensor is a combination of the two. In this day and age, the best kind to buy is the smart home smoke alarm. When you look around, most, if not everything is operated by smart technology.
The smart smoke alarm tells you there’s a fire no matter where you are. Once installed and powered up, you download the app and connect to the device. When the alarm goes off, you not only receive an audio alert, your smart phone also tells what the problem is and where it is coming from. If you have a second home or travel a lot, the additional peace of mind the smart smoke alarm brings is invaluable.
The next decision you'll need to make is whether to buy a battery operated smoke alarm or one that is hard wired to your home's electrical system and has a battery backup in case the power goes out. The benefit to providing your home with hard wired smoke alarms is that when one sends an alert, they all send one. This can buy your family much needed escape time in the event of a fire. The downside to buying hard wired smoke alarms is they can be expensive to install because you have to hire an electrician to do the work.
With both battery operated and hard wired options, batteries must be changed at least twice a year. Many home owners tend to neglect replacing the batteries. Think of it this way—your smart phone doesn’t work if it’s dead, so you charge it. Wouldn't you want your smoke alarms to work when you need them? If the batteries are dead then they can’t. If you still can't remember to change them, you might be interested in the smart smoke alarm. The batteries last for five years and send you a text notification when it’s time to replace the battery. Although these smoke alarms are a little more expensive, it's still cheaper than retrofitting a hard wired smoke detector and more convenient than replacing the batteries twice a year. Don't base your decision on cost or convenience though—your family's lives are more important than either of those things.
Where Do I Install Them?
If your home currently doesn't have smoke alarms and you are installing them, the best places to put them are as follows:
- One in each bedroom or sleeping room
- One in each hallway outside of bedrooms
- One on each floor of the house
- One in the basement
Since smoke rises, smoke alarms should be placed high—but not too high. Smoke bounces off walls and ceilings, so ideal placement is 3 feet from the corner of walls and ceilings. When placing alarms near the kitchen, be sure they are ten feet away. Of course, the best thing you can do when determining where to place your smoke alarms is to check with your local fire department.
Do You Already Have Smoke Alarms?
If you already have smoke alarms, make sure you change the batteries twice a year whether you think they need to be changed or not. It’s better to be safe than sorry! It's also smart to talk with your family about what to do if there's a fire and how to handle the situation. Plan escape routes and a meeting point so you can ensure you are all out of the house and safe.
You can find some great information about fire safety on the NFPA website for more information, including activities you can set up for your family around National Fire Prevention Week.