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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

The Woodlands and Conroe Home Safety: Smoke Detector Safety Recommendations

7/26/2016 (Permalink)

According to “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires,” a recent report published by the National Fire Protection Association, 3 out of every 5 home fire deaths are the result of a lack of working smoke alarms in the home. This is why current national building codes require smoke alarms in residential and commercial properties. Your locally owned and operated SERVPRO of The Woodlands and Conroe wants to remind our community in the greater Houston area that smoke detectors really do save lives and are an essential piece of safety equipment to prevent harm to your family and fire damage to your home.

Types of Smoke Alarms

There are two main types of smoke alarms/detectors on the market today—photoelectric and ionization. Ionization alarms detect smoke and are triggered when smoke enters the testing chamber, disrupting an electrical current. They are the older generation of smoke alarms and are known to trigger easily, often resulting in false alarms. In contrast, photoelectric alarms use a light sensor; when smoke enters the chamber, the light is disrupted, triggering the alarm. The ionization alarm is better at detecting flash fires, when small amounts of smoke are produced early in the burn cycle. Photoelectric sensors are better at detecting fires early, during the smoldering stages.

It is worth noting that while there are dual sensor smoke detectors available on the market today, they have received hit-and-miss reviews. So which should you use in your home to prevent fire and smoke damage? It depends. Many local fire departments have outreach programs and educational events to help you select the right smoke detector and alarm for your home. These outreach programs will also provide important details on requirements for the placement of smoke alarms in your home, and these should be followed.

Another factor to consider is whether to choose hard-wired or wireless smoke alarms. Each has its benefits, and the ideal solution for your home may even be a combination of the two. Wireless smoke detectors can be placed virtually anywhere in the home. They are battery operated and reasonably priced. Hardwired smoke detectors often require an electrician for proper installation; however, the benefit is they can be linked to one another as a network so that when one alarm is triggered, the rest of your alarms also trigger.

Placement of Smoke Alarms

Your fire department and code enforcement offices can provide you with exact details for your area and type of home. Also be careful to adhere to local building codes. However, here are some general recommendations for smoke alarm placement:

First, there should be a minimum of one smoke detector on each level of your home; this includes your basement and attic. Second, a smoke detector in the kitchen is required in most areas. The National Fire Protection Association recommends positioning it about 10 feet away from the stove, to prevent false alarms. Third, each and every bedroom and sleeping area should have a smoke detector, and each hallway leading to sleeping areas should also have a smoke detector.

In addition to the above minimum standards, most safety professionals recommend the following additional installations:

·        Rooms with fireplaces

·        Rooms with space heaters

·        Garages

·        Workshops

·         Storage sheds

In the last 20 years, recommendations for smoke detectors and alarms—as well as the technology used—have changed dramatically. Once, it was believed that one smoke alarm per floor was enough. Today, it is safe to say that considerably more than two smoke detectors are recommended in homes to prevent fire damage and loss of life, although local jurisdictions vary to some degree in building codes and requirements. Smoke alarms are an essential part of your overall fire protection plan, which should also include an escape plan and routine fire safety checks.

Your locally owned and operated Houston SERVPRO adds these additional safety tips and reminders:

·         Test alarms monthly using test button. Ensure everyone in the home can hear the alarm. Some older people or individuals with hearing loss may be unable to hear high-pitched alarms. 

·         If a smoke detector chirps, the battery is low. Replace it immediately.

·         Replace batteries annually, whether chirping or not.

·         Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

·         Remember to consider individuals in the home with physical limitations! There are specially designed smoke alarms available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

About The Woodlands-Conroe SERVPRO

SERVPRO of The Woodlands-Conroe is Faster to Any Size Disaster, helping residential and commercial property owners when natural disasters, water damage, sewage backups, floods, fires, mold infestations, and other events happen. In addition to The Woodlands-Conroe, we also proudly serve surrounding communities. 

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