Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms


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.

Nuisance Alarms
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.


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
  • Automobiles

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
  • Infants
  • 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.


Plan Your Fire Escape


More that 50% of home fire deaths occur between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., when most people are sleeping. Pre-school children and older adults over 65 years of age are twice as likely to die in a home fire than any other age group.

It is not enough to have a smoke alarm! Protect your family by planning and practicing a home fire escape plan!



Use a graph to draw a floor plan of your home or apartment. Draw all floors in your home, including all windows and doors. Label each sleeping area. Show stairways and number of stairs at each stairway. Show two ways out of each room by using arrows.

After you have drawn your floor plan, discuss the escape routes with everyone in your home.

  • If your fire escape window has security bars or a gate, make sure it is approved for fire escape windows.
  • Teach everyone in your home how to unlock and open windows and doors.
  • Use only thumb-turn type door locks on the interior side of exit doors. Locks that require a key to open from the inside are illegal and unsafe.
  • Keep stairways and exits clear of clutter and storage. (no storage on building fire escapes)
  • Agree on a meeting place outside your home so you will know everyone is out safe.


  • Now that you have a plan, practice the plan with a realistic fire drill. Get the entire family involved!
  • Since most home fires occur in the early morning hours, have your family members pretend they are sleeping.
  • Make the house dark as if it was smoke filled.
  • Begin the fire drill with the sounding of your smoke alarm, making sure everyone can clearly hear and recognize the sound.


  • The responsibility of waking a child or older adult.
  • Having family members practice escaping through smoke by crawling low on hands and knees.
  • Having family members close doors behind them.
  • Reminding family members not to stop to get dressed or collect possessions.
  • Follow your planned escape all the way through to the meeting place.




Dangers of Fireworks



Each year in the United States approximately 10,000 people are medically treated for fireworks-related injuries. More often than not it is the bystanders that sustain the injuries.


A 4-year-old girl was injured by a 6-inch fountain that shot colored fireballs. When the fountain tipped over, the girl was struck in the chest by a fireball. She sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns to her chest and neck. She was hospitalized for three weeks for burn treatment and skin graft.



  • Males sustain about 72% of the injuries.
  • Parts of the body most frequently injured are hands and fingers (26%), eyes (21%), and head and face (18%).
  • More than half of the injuries involve burns (63%).
  • Injuries are most commonly associated with fire-crackers (24%), sparklers (21%) and rockets (18%).


A 15-year-old boy was injured when he tied together the wires of 10 sparklers. The sparklers ignited quickly and burned down very fast, finally exploding in his hand. The boy sustained a five-inch long laceration to his hand and forearm, exposing muscle, and lodging of debris in his hand and arm. The boy required extensive plastic surgery



Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees (hot enough to melt gold) and can easily catch fire to clothing or hair.


A 33-year-old man was killed while setting off mortar style fireworks out of a black plastic pipe while in his backyard. As he leaned over one of the tubes to light the fuse, the fireworks suddenly went off striking him in the face. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead from head injuries.



Any person possessing, using or exploding ANY fireworks in New Jersey is guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. The criminal penalty is a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment of six months or both. Such person is also liable for a civil penalty of $750.00.

Concerned citizens can anonymously report the delivery, sale and/or storage of fireworks.


Natural Gas Safety

Natural gas is used as a fuel for many things in our homes, like cooking, heating and drying clothes.

While rare, a natural gas line leak is extremely dangerous due to the potential of an explosion.

Natural gas has no scent of its own, so for safety reasons, an odorant similar to rotten eggs is added. The rotten egg scent helps you detect even the tiniest gas leak.



  • Open doors and windows to let in fresh air.
  • Do not turn on or off any electrical appliances or light switches.
  • Do not attempt to locate the leak.
  • Do not use the house-phone or a cell-phone within the house.
  • Do not smoke or light matches or lighters.
  • Leave the house and from a safe distance call 911.


Never hesitate to CALL 911 is you smell gas!


Possible sources of natural gas leaks in the home are the pilot lights of gas-fired stoves, furnaces and hot water heaters.


Smoking Safety

More people die in fires started by carelessly discarded or abandoned smoking materials such as cigarette butts and cigarette ashes than any other type of residential fire. Fires caused by smoking materials often smolder, sometimes for hours before the first flame. For most people who died in residential smoking fires, escape was made more difficult because they were asleep. The most common materials to first ignite are mattresses and bedding, followed by trash and upholstered furniture.

The risk of dying in a residential fire caused by smoking materials increases with age.

Over 40% of fatal smoking material fire victims were age 65 or older, compared to their 13% share of the population.

Smokers are seven times more likely than nonsmokers to have a fire in their home.

If you are a smoker, take precautions to ensure the safety of you and your family.

Smoking Safety Check List

If you or anyone in your home smokes, make your home safer:

  • Use large deep ashtrays and check them frequently.
  • After entertaining in your home always check on, between and under upholstery and cushions and inside trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Don’t smoke in bed or lying down, especially if your drowsy, medicated or have been drinking alcohol.
  • Consider additional smoke alarms in your home specifically a photoelectric type, which is the most reliable for soldering type fires.

Matches, Lighters, and Children

Children are attracted to matches and lighters, making them a special fire risk.

  • Keep matches and lighters up high and out of sight and reach of children.
  • When smokers visit your home, ask them to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.


Candle Fire Safety

Candle Fire Safety

Candle fires are on the rise. While other causes for home fires have decreased, the percentage caused by candles has tripled in the past ten years.
These candle fires were preventable!

How does a little flame become so dangerous?

More than 33% of candle fires occured when the candles were left unattended or abandoned. Roughly 25% of the fires occured because something combustible such as curtains or paper was too close to the flame. Half the people killed by candle fires in the home were younger than 20, with most of the victims between the ages of 5 and 9.

Candle Safety Check List

  • If you burn candles for decorative or ritual purposes, make your home safer:
  • use candles with flame protective noncombustible shades or globes.
  • use a sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candle holder.
  • avoid the use of candles with embedded combustible decorative items.
  • place candles at least 4 feet away from curtains, draperies, decorations, blinds and bedding.
  • place candles out of reach of small children and pets.
  • refrain from using decorative/floral candle rings.
  • extinguish candles before leaving the room.
  • extinguish candles when they burn within two inches of the holder.
  • never leave burning candles unattended.

Candles should always be placed out reach of children and don’t allow teens to have candles in their bedrooms.


One-third of the people killed in candle fires were using them for light due to no power.

  •  Be prepared by having flashlights and batteries available in your home.
  • Have the flashlights accessible in the kitchen and bedroom.
  • You should also carry a flashlight in your car and a small light on your person.
Kitchen Cooking Fire Safety

The preperation of the home cooked meal is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. Unattended cooking accounts for 33% of these fires. Other leading causes are placing combustible items too close to the heat source and various electrical defects.

There are a variety of situations that lead to unattended cooking fires. the most common is when the cook becomes distracted and leaves the kitchen. The most common distractions are attending to children, answering phone calls, watching television and answering doorbells.

In order to drastically reduce your risk of a cooking fire, follow this recipe for safety:

While cooking,

  • stay in the kitchen, don’t leave cooking food unattended. (stand by your pan!)
  • wear short or tight fitting sleeves. (Long loose sleeves are more likely to catch on fire or get caught on pot handles.
  • don’t become distracted
  • enforce a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around your stove. Turn pot handles inward facing the wall to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills.
  • keep the area around the stove clear of towels, papers, pot holders or anything that could burn.
  • cook at indicated temperature settings rather than higher settings.
  • regularly clean your cooking equipment so that there are no cooking materials, food items  or grease accumulation.
  • have a pot lid handy to smother a pan fire. Do not attempt to pick up the pot or pan. Shut off the heat and cover the fire with the lid.
  • Do not use water. It will cause splashing and spread the fire.
Storm Recovery Safety

Hurricane Sandy has left thousands of New Jersey residents without power and home heating. Here are some safety tips you can use to KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.


  • The use of kerosene or propane space heaters is strictly prohibited and illegal to use in New York City.
  • Kerosene and propane space heaters pose a high risk of death and injury, and generate carbon monoxide.
  • Only use portable electric heaters that are certified and approved by a recognized testing lab, such as UL.
  • Keep portable heaters at least three feet away from combustible materials, such as blankets, curtains and newspapers.
  • Never leave portable heaters unattended, and never leave the house or go to bed without turning off the heater.


  • Be sure to place the generator outdoors where exhaust fumes will not enter an enclosed space.
    Never place generators indoors as generators create carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas and is the second leading cause of accidental poisoning.
  • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in proper working order.
  • Do not connect your generator directly to your home wiring system.
  • Use a certified heavy-duty, extension cord to connect your generator to an appliance.
  • Extension cords come in a variety of sizes known as gauges. The most common gauges are 18,16,14,12 &10. The lower the gauge the more electrical current (amps) the wire can carry.
  • Do not overload the generator. Do not exceed the electrical output rating of the generator.
  • Power strips and surge suppressors do not provide more power, just access to the same limited capacity of the generator.
  • Shut off the engine before refueling and have a charged extinguisher located near the generator.
  • Do not smoke or use any item that can cause a spark anytime you are refueling a generator.
  • Use only approved gasoline storage containers.