WILL YOUR SMOKE ALARM WAKE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?
Most fire deaths occur in the middle of the night. A smoke alarm is the single most valuable lifesaving device you can have in your home.
An operable smoke alarm will reduce your chances of dying in a fire, nearly in half.
Smoke alarms are designed to detect and warn that silent, but deadly smoke is in the air. The early warning will wake you and your family, allowing time to implement your fire escape plan. While 97 out of 100 homes have a smoke alarm, more than 33 percent of these homes are unprotected because the smoke alarms don’t work. When a smoke alarm fails to work, it is frequently because the batteries are missing. People often remove or disconnect batteries to prevent nuisance activation caused by bathroom steam or cooking vapors.
How to protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Neighbors
- Install smoke alarms that have the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Mark. The (UL) Mark tells you that the alarm has been evaluated according to nationally recognized safety requirements. In New York City it should comply with UL 217.
- There are two kinds of smoke alarm sensors, photoelectric and ionization. Ionization technology is better at detecting flaming fires with very little smoke, while photoelectric technology is better at detecting smoldering fires with heavy smoke. In order to give your household the optimal protection, it is recommended you have both technologies in your home. This could be in the form of separate detectors or a combination alarm with both technologies.
- One smoke alarm in the home is not enough. Install a smoke alarm on every level, including the basement. Place a smoke alarm within 15 feet of all sleeping areas. New construction codes require an alarm in every sleeping area and they must be interconnected so if one is triggered they will all sound the alarm.
- Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling, preferably in the center of the room, but not less than 4 inches from a wall. If the smoke alarm is installed on a wall, it must be placed between 4 and 12 inches from the ceiling.
- Make sure everyone in your home can recognize and be awakened by the sound of the smoke alarm.
Some children and the elderly may not readily awake to the sound of the smoke alarm. Consider installing interconnected smoke alarms so that when one alarm senses smoke and sounds, they are all triggered throughout your home. Installing an alarm in each bedroom increases each person’s proximity to a sounding device. If someone in your home has a hearing loss, consider complementing your smoke alarm with a 520Hz beside fire alarm and bed shaker device and a high density (visual) strobe light.
Smoke alarms frequently are set off by bathroom steam or cooking vapors. Rather than take the battery out of your alarm, do the following:
- Quiet the alarm by pushing the “HUSH” button, if equipped.
- Open windows and turn on vent fans to clear the air.
- Consider relocating the alarm farther away from the cooking area or bathroom.
- Consider installing a photoelectric alarm. The photoelectric type alarms are less sensitive to cooking smoke.
KEEP YOUR SMOKE ALARM WORKING!
It is up to YOU to make sure your smoke alarm will provide a lifesaving early warning in the event of a fire.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas. Nicknamed “the silent killer”, carbon monoxide is totally undetectable by human senses. Hundreds of people are killed in their home each year by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are permanently injured.
Since carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion, any fuel-burning appliance, vehicle or tool that is inadequately vented or maintained can be a potential source of carbon monoxide gas. Examples of fuel- burning equipment include:
- Fuel fired furnaces
- Gas fueled space heaters
- Gas ranges and ovens
- Gas clothes dryers
- Charcoal grills
- Gas water heaters
- Wood burning fireplaces and stoves
- Gas fireplaces, both vented and ventless
- Gas lawnmowers and power tools
People are at an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter months. Well-insulated, airtight homes (primarily newer construction) and malfunctioning heating equipment can produce dangerously high and potentially deadly concentrations of carbon monoxide.
Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
If there is carbon monoxide in the air you breathe, it will enter your blood system the same way oxygen does, through your lungs. The carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in your blood, depriving your body of oxygen. When the carbon monoxide displaces enough oxygen, you suffocate.
What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Long-term exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide can gradually build up in the blood causing flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea and drowsiness.
Since the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are so common, and often misdiagnosed, carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected if more than one member of the family feels ill and if they recover after being away from the home for a period of time. Also, illness in your pets preceding illness in a family member may suggest carbon monoxide poisoning.
Exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide will cause throbbing headaches, breathing difficulties, confusion and loss of consciousness, cardiac problems and/or death.
Who is at Greater Risk?
People may react differently to carbon monoxide exposure. Those particularly sensitive are:
- Senior citizens
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- People with breathing or heart problems
The First Line of Defense is Prevention
Your first line of defense is to prevent or minimize the potential for exposure to carbon monoxide gas.
- Have your home-heating systems, fuel-burning appliances, flues and chimneys inspected, cleaned and tuned up annually by a qualified technician.
- Make regular visual inspections of fuel-burning appliances such as your gas dryer and hot water heater.
- Do not burn charcoal inside a home, cabin or camper.
- Do not operate gasoline-powered engines (generators, cutting saws) in confined areas such as garages or basements.
- Do not idle your car inside the garage.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the gas dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- Never use gas ovens and ranges to heat your home!
The Second Line of Defense is a Corbon Monoxide Detector Alarm
Your second line of defense is to purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector alarm. A properly working carbon monoxide detector alarm can provide an early warning, before deadly gases build up to dangerous levels.