A smoke alarm is a fire alarm that buzzes when it detects smoke, warning you in time to escape. A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death. Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home. But no matter where or how, having a smoke alarm is the first key step towards your family's safety.
This information is not intended to be all inclusive, but it is intended to inform you about some of the safety aspects and importance of having and maintaining working smoke alarms in your home.
Why are Smoke Alarms Important?
Every year in the United States, about 6,000 people lose their lives in residential fires. In a fire, smoke and deadly gases tend to spread farther and faster than heat. That's one reason why most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, not as a result of burns. A majority of fatal fires happen when families are asleep because occupants are unaware of the fire until there is not adequate time to escape. A smoke alarm stands guard around the clock and, when it first senses smoke, it sounds a shrill alarm. This often allows a family the precious but limited time it takes to escape.
About two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are considered to be one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning of a potentially deadly fire and could reduce the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost half.
Where Should Smoke Alarms be Installed?
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
A smoke alarm should be installed and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. When installing a smoke alarm, many factors influence where you will place it, including how many are to be installed. Consider placing alarms along your escape path to assist in egress in limited visibility conditions. In general you should place alarms in the center of a ceiling or, if you place them on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.
Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring.
Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.
Do not place a smoke alarm too close to a kitchen appliance or fireplace, as this may result in nuisance alarms.
Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.
Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Smoke alarms don't last forever.
Develop and practice a fire escape plan, because working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan will increase your protection in case of a fire.
Change your clocks, change your batteries!
Daylight Savings Time change is April 3rd at 2:00 A.M. The Santa Clara Fire District reminds you to change your batteries in your smoke alarm(s) as you change your clocks! Don't forget to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarm also.
Purchase one or more smoke alarms.
Install your alarms properly.
Identify escape routes and practice escaping.
Maintain your alarms.
What kind should I buy?
Smoke alarms can be either house current or battery operated. Either kind does a good job.
Make sure the model you choose has been listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (Underwriters Laboratory or Factory Mutual).
How much does a smoke alarm cost?
A smoke alarm may be purchased at most retail stores for about $10.00 - $30.00.
How do I install my smoke alarms?
If you can handle a screwdriver, you can install most smoke alarms.
Battery-operated and "plug-in" electric alarms can be attached directly to the ceiling or wall.
"Wired-in" electric alarms are somewhat more difficult to install and may require an electrician.