In the US alone, the lives of about 3,000 people have been lost due to residential fires. Majority of the casualty cases were reported to be caused by toxic gas inhalation rather than burns brought about by the fire. And many of these deaths have happened when the family was asleep. Avert these mishaps, property damage and accidents unfolding right in your home and family by ensuring you have properly installed and maintained smoke alarms.
There are various types of smoke alarms available in markets today. The commonly used ones are:
Ionization alarm – sends off signal faster in presence of smoke from fast-moving fires and is particularly efficient at detecting very small amounts of smoke.
Photoelectric alarm – sends off signal faster in presence of smoke from slower-burning hazy fires and is known to trigger false alarms less likely than the previous type.
Dual sensor alarm – combines the capacity of the two previous types.
Special alarm – sends off signal through the use of strobe lights or vibrations in order to cater to hearing-impaired individuals.
These types also have different installation requirements. The brands easiest to install are those operated by batteries that just need to be screwed or attached through strong adhesives to the wall or ceiling. Some brands are called hard wired alarms that have to be connected to the electrical system of the house. This latter kind may require you to seek assistance from a qualified electrician should you lack the appropriate highly technical electrical wiring skills.
The US Fire Administration suggests that each home should have both ionization and photoelectric alarms or better yet go for the combination type to lessen costs. These devices have to be placed in every floor of the house including the basement, sleeping areas and outdoor or detached spaces within the property. Take note as well that there might be regulations on proper smoke alarm installation in your area. Contact your local fire department or other concerned agencies to inquire about this matter and for further installation assistance.
Given that your alarms are already installed in key places around your home, follow some fire safety measures recommended by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Firstly, for the smoke alarm care, see to it that these are tested on a monthly basis. Dust them regularly in order to get rid of particles that might block the smoke detection features, which could lead to the malfunction of the devices. If you have battery-powered alarms, refresh the battery supply at least once a year or as needed. Anyway most devices come with low-battery indicator, either blinking red light or chirping sound. If you have the hard wired system, make sure that all the wires are secured in place and free from water damage all the time.
Secondly, you can further protect your family by encouraging fire alertness. One way to do it is to organize a fire escape plan. Devise the escape map with all the members of your household, from your children to house helpers, if any. The plan should also include designation of emergency numbers, first aid and supplies kits, ladder and other pertinent needs. Consider planning for special assistance if you have family members who have physical disabilities.
Hold the drill at least twice a year, and each event should be done once each in the daytime and in the nighttime when they are asleep. It has been noted that kids and elders were the hardest to wake up in case of fires. Thus, the drill would let you gauge how appropriately or poorly they would respond to the alarm once they were asleep. Take off from the result of the drill if you need to revise the plan.
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