This has been an age-old campaign, designed to prompt people to keep fresh batteries in their smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are still the best and most inexpensive measure of fire protection, once a fire occurs. If there is a proper number of smoke alarms, and they are placed properly, smoke alarms should activate when smoke is detected.
Ionization detectors are still the most popular on the market. Your responsibility is to check your detectors monthly by pushing the test button, and change the batteries when necessary. If you have disabled smoke alarms, then you must fix them. It may simply be to put a fresh battery in it, or it may need to be replaced. The life span of a smoke alarm is about ten years.
What about new technology? There are smoke alarms on the market that have ten-year batteries. Some of these alarms have batteries that cannot be removed, and are designed to be thrown away when the battery goes bad. The benefit to this detector is that the battery is long lasting. The point is that you must test the alarm monthly, to insure that the battery is good. Keep in mind that most battery-operated smoke alarms are not tied together. In other words, only one detector will activate at a time. In the case of new construction, smoke alarms are required in every bedroom, on each level of the home, and more may be required in various living spaces. These detectors are tied together electrically, and will all sound when one activates. These alarms are protected with a battery backup, in the event that the power goes out. It is important to keep fresh batteries in these detectors.
How about detectors for those who are hearing impaired? There are smoke alarm systems that come with a strobe that activates with an audible alarm. The best placement of these alarms is the bedroom that the hearing impaired person sleeps in, and the room or rooms most frequently used by a hearing impaired person. I have seen systems that plug into outlets. The problem comes when the power goes out, therefore, some type of battery backup system would be needed.
After knowing that your smoke alarms are properly placed and working properly, it is important to know that your family knows what to do when the smoke alarms go off. The first question is, will your family wake up if one smoke alarm is activating? The only way to know for sure is to set one off after your family has gone to sleep. If it does not wake them, then more are needed, or the alarms need to be tied together so that when one goes off, they all go off. If you have children that have played with or are playing with fire then you need to put a detector in their room. You also need to seek help for that child from Fire & Life Safety (748-1426).
Once you know that the smoke alarms will wake your family up, will they know what to do next? I will spend next week talking about this.