How to reduce fire-related deaths with smoke detectors? Smoke detectors have saved thousands of lives in the United States due to their increased use over the past few decades.
Indeed, fire-related deaths in the US have been in the thousands, and property damage has been in the billions of dollars.The numbers can be quite sobering.
The good news: although laws may vary from state to state, fire alarms are required in most residences. Residences can choose from ionization, photoelectronic, or dual sensor types; any of the three should meet the requirements. However, while many homes do have smoke detectors, a lot of them may not function properly, or are not maintained — and are, therefore, useless. This article will review the need for smoke alarms in most homes as well as provide information for educating your customers about the importance of proper maintenance of these devices.
Smoke Detector Requirements
Although the rules and regulations involving smoke alarm installation will vary from state to state, it is strongly recommended that each house have one installed outside sleeping areas, in each sleeping room and on each floor of the structure. Make sure your customers’ smoke detectors are up to code.
The Dilemma of Disconnected Smoke Detectors
Due to updated laws and requirements, more than 90% of homes in the United States have at least one smoke alarm. However, in one study, it was found that 25-30% of home alarms did not function properly. In some instances, the alarms had simply malfunctioned and in other cases, the alarms had been disconnected by the owners. Many people disconnect their alarms because they go off while they are cooking or chirp when batteries are low.
Many owners do not realize that some smoke detectors have ‘silence’ buttons which will stop alarms from sounding for 10 minutes, allowing the cooking smoke that set off the alarm to clear. Some do not know how to work these buttons, however. It is a good idea to raise awareness as to the fact that these silence buttons exist on some models and educate owners on how to use them. This may reduce the incidents in which people remove the batteries in their alarm due to nuisances.
Proper Maintenance of Smoke Detectors
In order to do all you can to inform and protect your clients from fire hazards, it is important to emphasize that they have a smoke detector that is in proper working order. Homeowners who have smoke detectors should be made aware of some tips for basic maintenance. They are as follows:
Ensure an alarm is functioning by simply pressing the test button on the alarm. If the alarm does not sound, and you have a battery-operated alarm, try replacing the battery. If the alarm still does not work, the alarm should be replaced. If you have a hard-wired system, and it is not sounding when the test button is pressed, it should be replaced immediately.
Smoke detectors typically have a life span of ten years. Some alarms will let you know they are approaching the end by making chirping noises. Others will not give any sort of indication. If you think an alarm may need to be replaced, you can detach it from its base and check the inside label where the date should be embossed in the plastic. Other alarms may have a sticker on the outside that indicates its expiration date. It is always a good idea for clients to add a sticker of their own as well, which will be a constant reminder as to when replacement is required.
If you have a hard-wired alarm, you cannot replace it with a battery-operated device. The new alarm must be hard-wired as well. If you are not sure what type of alarm you have, remove it from its base to determine if it is connected by wires or not.
It should also be determined if an alarm is interconnected or not, to ensure you are replacing it with the correct unit. Most modern hard-wired devices are interconnected. To be sure, you can count the number of wires that connect the alarm. A hard-wired alarm that is interconnected will have three wires while one that is not will have only two.
Best Type of Smoke Detector for Homes
Ionization smoke detectors respond best to fast-moving, flaming fires while photoelectric units are better at detecting slow, smoldering fires. Although ionization units are more popular, you never know what kind of fire you may encounter. That’s why some experts are now recommending dual sensor technology which combines both types of detectors.
As research continues to uncover new technologies, there are many advances being made in the industry to reduce fire-related deaths with smoke detectors. This gives homeowners many options for keeping their homes safe. Armed with information, you can help your customers research which type of system works best for them, as well as remind them to keep up with recommended maintenance so they can be sure they are doing all they can to protect themselves and their family.
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