Fire & Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

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How long should my alarm last?

Smoke/Co2 Alarm Maintenance

Smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms are like most other electronic devices; as long as you take care of them properly they will get the job done. Maintenance on these devices is very basic and should not present problems even for the electronically illiterate.

Check your sensors regularly to make sure that dust does not settle in and clog them. A build up of dust and other particles can prevent the detectors from picking up the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide.

A battery-operated detector will beep and a light will flash indicating time for a new power source. Most fire alarms will last nearly 10 years but should still be checked regularly. When this happens jump on it quickly; do not let the battery run out before replacing it.

Obviously you want to avoid getting them wet since water and electricity have never exactly been a match made in heaven. If they do come into contact with water, carefully dry them off and make sure to test the sensors extensively in the next few days to make sure they still work properly. If there is any noticeable problem after this replace them immediately.

A faulty or damaged alarm is not going to protect you or your family, but they will leave you vulnerable for as long as they are in your house.

Where should I put detectors and how many should I use?

Where To Place Smoke/Co2 Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have to be placed strategically around the house if you want them to be as effective as possible in protecting your family. While the minimum recommendation is one of each for every floor, the truth is more are needed to completely safeguard a home.

You would not expect the same amount of food for one child to feed two adults, so it is not reasonable to think that one smoke detector that covers a house with four rooms can do the same job for a house with 12.

If you want to maximize your fire and carbon monoxide safety there should be a detector in every bedroom, especially a child's room. Offices with computers, living rooms with home entertainment centers, and other areas with a lot of electronics and wiring should have detectors as well. Electronics can sometimes surge or overheat and start fires, so installing detectors in these areas is smart.

Avoid placing smoke detectors in areas where you might get regular false alarms, like directly over an oven. Heat detectors, which sense steep rises in temperature, should also not be put near ovens, clothes dryers, or bathrooms where taking a hot shower could accidentally set them off.

What does a Co2 detector really do?

Carbon Monoxide (Co2) Detectors

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and impossible to detect without a sensor. It is produced when fossil fuels are not completely burned and can come from open flames, chimneys and other things typically found in a house.

This toxic gas can be produced by cars so it is important to have a sensor in your garage. If you spend a lot of time working out there, if your washer and dryer are in the garage and it is attached to your house, you could be exposed to high levels of Co2 without knowing it.

Carbon monoxide poisoning induces nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fainting among other things. Co2 symptoms may have you thinking you have a run of the mill stomach ailment or the flu when you are actually in the early stages of poisoning. A detector can avoid this mistake.

These sensors are not smoke alarms, so it is necessary to have those in your house as well. There are dual sensors that can detect both, but make sure you know if yours can so you do not leave yourself vulnerable on either front.

Make sure to test the Co2 detector regularly (either weekly or monthly) using the button on the device to make sure it is working properly.

Do smoke alarms really make a difference?

National Fire Protection Assoc. Statistics

If you want to play the numbers game it is undeniable that smoke detectors save lives. According to research done by the National Fire Protection Association in 2004, 96 percent of homes in the U.S. had at least one smoke alarm. However, of the reported home fires from 2000 to 2004, nearly half were in homes where there were none.

In the same period, 65 percent of fire-related deaths were in homes with no working smoke detectors. The increase of these sensors in homes across the country has contributed to the nearly 50 percent decrease in fire-related deaths since the late 1970s.

From 2003 to 2005 there was an 18 percent increase in reported carbon monoxide incidents in the U.S. This is attributed to Co2 detectors becoming more common, not Co2 incidents themselves.

A person can be poisoned by large amounts of carbon monoxide over a short period of time or small amounts over an extended period of time, which is why these detectors are so important.

If numbers do not lie then it only takes simple arithmetic to realize that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have saved countless lives over the past few decades and are an effective means of protecting your family from fire and Co2-related accidents.

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Carma Spence-Pothitt