POSTED: Monday, October 4, 2010 - 4:54am
UPDATED: Monday, October 4, 2010 - 11:08am
BATON ROUGE, La (WVLA) “Smoke Alarms – A Sound You Can Live With” is the theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week. Always celebrated the first full week of October, the event, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, focuses on a different aspect of fire safety each year.
Smoke detectors and smoke alarms rank among the greatest life-saving inventions or innovations of all time. The key words are “life saving.” A smoke alarm won’t save your house, but it can save your life by alerting you and your family of the danger. Smoke alarms buy you time: the most precious thing in a fire emergency The most dangerous fires, from a sense of human loss, are those that remain undetected (most often at night) while producing toxic gasses that claim far more victims than flames do. And, it may save your house by raising the alarm early enough for the fire to be effectively controlled.
No mention of smoke alarms would be complete without the instruction to test them often and replace the battery (usually a 9 volt) every time you set the clocks on or off Daylight Savings Time. Your smoke alarm is designed to chirp as a low battery signal, but why wait? Your family’s safety is potentially at stake. Think of it this way: “ I don’t want my safety equipment to barely work; I want it in first rate condition.”
In closing, a few things you may not know about smoke alarms:
1. The sensors lose function over time. Both the photoelectric and ionized particle type detectors (Battery powered home smoke alarms usually use one technology or the other.) have an effective life-span of roughly ten to twelve years. They may work well beyond that period, but perhaps at a greatly diminished efficiency. It is advisable to replace them after a decade of service.
2. If you have smoke detectors installed as part of a monitored security system, your smoke alarm gets its back-up power from your alarm system’s control panel (which itself has a battery back-up), so it will probably not have a battery to check or change. In monitored alarm systems, the “smoke alarms” in your kitchen and attic are very likely not smoke detectors, but heat detectors. These are designed to be sensitive to an absolute temperature or a rate of temperature increase. These usually alarm at about 135 degrees in the kitchen or around 190 degrees or more in the attic, or when they detect a rate of temperature increase in excess of 5 or 6 degrees per minute. These types of sensors generally do not degrade and need replacement like the photoelectric or ionized particle detectors do. When heat detectors fail, they will almost always create a false alarm telling you they need replacement.
3. If you have a “hard-wired” smoke alarm that is fed off your home’s electrical system, it should have a battery back-up. Sometimes the battery is hard to locate and may require loosening the alarm’s mounting. These batteries need to be checked and changed, too. Quite often in a house fire, the home’s electrical system may be involved or become compromised. Without power to make the alarm sound, the detector is useless.
So remember, smoke detectors save lives. “Smoke Alarms – A Sound You Can Live With”
Information provided by the St. George Fire Department