Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors Safety

Smoke Alarm Safety 

Smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.

Smoke Alarm Facts and Stats

  • Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms

  • More than one-third (38 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present.

  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.

​Source: National Fire Protection Association​

Smoke Alarm Safety- Everything You Need to Know

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.

  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.

  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.

  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.

  • There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.

  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.

  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

  • Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save.

  • A  smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all. A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and regularly tested. Take care of your smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

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Answers to common questions about smoke alarms

  • What types of smoke alarms can I buy?

    • There are many brands of smoke alarms on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

    • Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms detect different types of fires. Since no one can predict what type of fire might start in their home, the USFA recommends that every home and place where people sleep have:

    • Both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms. OR

    • Dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.

    • Choose interconnected smoke alarms, so when one sounds, they all sound.

    • There are also alarms for people with hearing loss. These alarms may have strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to alert those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

  • What powers a smoke alarm?

    • Smoke alarms are powered by battery or by your home's electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable nine-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium (“long-life”) battery. Alarms that get power from your home's electrical system, or “hardwired,” usually have a back-up battery that will need to be replaced once a year.​

  • Where do I put smoke alarms in my home?

    • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Put smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Put alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.

    • Place smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the best place for your alarm.

    • Only qualified electricians should install hardwired smoke alarms.

    • Some fire departments will install battery-operated smoke alarms in your home at no cost. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency phone number for more information.

  • What do I do if my smoke alarm sounds while I'm cooking?
    • Never take the battery out of your smoke alarm while cooking! If a smoke alarm sounds while you're cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam, do not remove the battery. You should:

    • Open a window or door and press the “hush” button.

    • Wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air.

    • Move the entire alarm several feet away from the kitchen or bathroom.

    • Disabling a smoke alarm or removing the battery can be a deadly mistake.

  • How do I take care of my smoke alarm?

    Is your smoke alarm still working? A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all. A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and regularly tested. Take care of your smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Below are some general maintenance tips.
    • Smoke alarm powered by a nine-volt battery

    • Test the alarm monthly.

    • Replace the batteries at least once every year.

    • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

    • Smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium (or “long-life”) battery

    • Test the alarm monthly.

    • Since you cannot (and should not) replace the lithium battery, replace the entire smoke alarm according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    • Smoke alarm that is hardwired into your home's electrical system

    • Test the alarm monthly.

    • Replace the backup battery at least once every year.

    • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Downloadable Resources

      (English) (Spanish)​​

        (English) (Spanish)

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental nonfire-related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

 

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of muscular coordination

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Ultimately death

Downloadable Resources

  • Portable Generators & Winter Storms

       (English) (Spanish)

  • Carbon Monoxide Safety

       (English) (Spanish)​​

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