Smoke Detector Safety

Smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing deaths and injuries from fire and have contributed to the almost 50% decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s. It is estimated that 95% of U.S homes have at least one smoke alarm. Sixty-five percent of reported home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms save lives and protect against injury and loss due to fire.

Facts & Figures

  • A 2004 U.S. telephone survey found that 96% of the households surveyed had at least one smoke alarm, yet in 2000-2004, no smoke alarms were present or none operated in almost half (46%) of the reported home fires.
  • An estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms.
  • 65% of reported home fire deaths in 2000-2004 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • The fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51% less than the rate for homes without this protection.
  • In one out of every five homes equipped with at least one smoke alarm installed, not a single one was working.
  • Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Nuisance activations were the leading cause of disabled smoke alarms.

Source:  NFPA's "U.S. Experience with Smoke Alarms and Other Fire Detection/Alarm Equipment" report by Marty Ahrens, April 2007

Installation and maintenance tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
  • Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire's location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • If you, or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration and/or sound.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
  • Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.

Sensing systems

Most smoke alarms use one of two common sensing systems for detecting a fire.

  • Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm.
  • Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor; triggering the alarm.
  • Ionization smoke detection is generally more responsive to flaming fires and photoelectric smoke detection is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.  Both types of technologies have improved home fire safety.


      Be Safe!
      The Firefighters of the Aberdeen Fire Department will be happy to come to your home to do a home inspection, and install smoke detectors if needed.

      Please feel free to call to set up an appointment!

      (910) 944-7888

       
       
       
       
       
      Town of Aberdeen NC | 115 N. Poplar Street, Post Office Box 785 Aberdeen, NC 28315
      Phone: 910-944-1115
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