The National Fire Protection Association revealed from their study that 93% of U.S. homes are equipped with at least one smoke detector. But while this huge percentage may be interpreted as indicative that home owners have become cautious against fires, such is not the actual case. A lot of these homes do not have properly working devices. And the remaining small percentage of homes without detectors actually account for half of home fires and three-fifths of fire deaths. These data signals home owners that proper measures have to be pursued so as family protection is assured.
A smoke detector is not just any small gadget. This can actually save your lives in case of a fire. It stays alert and almost instantaneously sends of a signal once it senses smoke. However, merely installing this device in your home would not automatically mean it would work efficiently. There are specific considerations smoke detectors have such as type, proper placement and installation.
There are two basic types of smoke detectors. The first category consists of ionization chamber detectors. This kind of device has a radioactive source that produces ions or electrically charged molecules. These ions are responsible for maintaining the electrical current inside the chamber. Once the ions are disturbed via sensing smoke, the flow of electric current would be reduced. This results to a reaction when the alarm would be set off. This type can easily determine smaller amounts of smoke from fast, flaming fires. The other one belongs to the photoelectric detectors. This kind works the same way as the previous type, but optical detector sensor or photo beam instead of the ions. If dense smoke deflects the light beam, the alarm would be triggered.
As you can never predict the type of fire and smoke that might occur, dual-sensor smoke alarms are a wise choice. This device combines the smoke recognition methods of the two main types above. Another special type of detector is manufactured to cater hearing impaired individuals. This can cost up to $100.
Moreover, there are two main means how any type of detector would be operated – through batteries or a hardwired system. Battery-operated detectors are easier to install and could still function in case of power outage. These also have a built-in system, wherein a red light blinks every minute, to indicate the batteries need to be replaced. These cost around $10-$25 apiece. The other mode of operation relies on the power supply of the house. But newer hardwired detectors come with back-up battery slots. These are priced from $14 to $18.
Placing and installing the device require you to follow meticulous measures. Detectors are commonly mounted on the ceiling, however the device has to be placed on the highest part of the ceiling and 4 inches away from the wall. Cathedral ceiling requires a different measure. The device has to be on the lower notch from the highest point. Wall-mounted detectors have to be placed no more than a foot from the ceiling. Any device should also be a few horizontal feet away from sources that are combustible such as gas-fired furnaces, heaters and dryers, and produce smoke or steam like ducts and doors in the kitchen and bathroom. The key places where the device should be installed are the common rooms, sleeping areas and the basement. Place the detector at the bottom of the basement stairs. Plug-in types should not be connected via extension cords. Such outlet might be unstable, thus the detector can be easily removed.
If installing by yourself, go through the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly. If you seem unsure, seek professional assistance from your local fire department, state building inspectors and/or qualified electricians. You can also inquire if there are any installation regulations in your area.
Smoke detectors would only work for your benefit if you fully grasp the proper measures for its installation and maintenance. When that is assured, so would be the safety of your family against fires in your home.
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