Your Smoke Alarms!"
Roughly 70 percent of home
fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke
alarms. Smoke alarms are the great safety success story of the 20th century —
but only when they're working properly.
Making sure that homes are
equipped with working
smoke alarms is only part of the solution. Kids and families must also know what
to do when the alarm sounds.
smoke alarms correctly and test them regularly
Because fire can
grow and spread so quickly, having working smoke alarms in your home can mean
the difference between life and death. But these life-saving devices are only
effective when they're working properly. Smoke alarms with batteries that are
dead, disconnected, or missing can't alert you to the dangers of smoke and fire.
Follow these tips to ensure that your smoke alarms are installed correctly and
Once the alarm sounds, you may
have as few as two minutes to escape. By learning how to effectively use the
smoke alarm's early warning to get out safely, you'll reduce your risk of dying
in a home fire.
The right way to install
|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
|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
|Never paint smoke alarms.
Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.|
A life-saving test: check
your smoke alarms regularly
|Test your smoke alarms once
a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
|Replace the batteries in
your smoke alarm once a year, or as soon as the alarm "chirps"
warning that the battery is low. Hint: schedule battery replacements
for the same day you change your clocks from daylight savings time to
standard time in the fall.
|Never "borrow" a
battery from a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms can't warn you of fire if their
batteries are missing or have been disconnected.
|Don't disable smoke alarms
even temporarily. If your smoke alarm is sounding "nuisance
alarms," try relocating it farther from kitchens or bathrooms, where
cooking fumes and steam can cause the alarm to sound.
|Regularly vacuuming or
dusting your smoke alarms, following the manufacturer's instructions, can
keep them working properly.
|Smoke alarms don't last
forever. Replace yours once every 10 years. If you can't remember how
old the alarm is, then it's probably time for a new one.
|Consider installing smoke
alarms with "long-life" (10-year) batteries.
|Plan regular fire drills to
ensure that everyone knows exactly what to do when the smoke alarm sounds.
Hold a drill at night to make sure that sleeping family members awaken at
the sound of the alarm. Some studies have shown that some children may not
awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm.
|If you are building a new
home or remodeling your existing home, consider installing an automatic
home fire sprinkler system. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut
your risk of dying in a home fire 82 percent relative to having neither –
a savings of thousands of lives a year.
A Great Idea...
Install all new smoke alarms and batteries when you move into a new home, unless the seller/renter can certify that they are new.
Test your smoke alarms when you return from an extended trip to make sure your batteries haven't gone dead while you were away.
Prevention Week Web site.
For more than 80 years, NFPA has taken the lead in public fire safety
outreach by serving as the official sponsor of FPW.
NFPA offers the public a wide range of free home fire safety information on the
NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and
life safety information to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit
organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the
quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes
and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA headquarters is located in
Quincy, MA, USA.
Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week Web site, www.firepreventionweek.org.