Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right? — Although it may seem hard to believe, there are still homes today that do not have smoke alarms or, if present, malfunction for one reason or another. Toxic smoke fumes kill. The majority of fire related deaths come from smoke poisoning. Working smoke alarms can save lives.
What types of Smoke Detectors are there? — Aside from battery and electric there are two main types of smoke alarms:
Ionization — these units’ sense carbon particles (not smoke per se) and are thought to be more reliable in terms of less false alarms. A downside is that they tend not to pick up “whiter” or light-coloured smoke.
Photocell — uses a LED light and mirror. Any smoke passing between the two triggers the alarm. A downside to these units is that sometimes dust particles can set off the alarm.
Where should Smoke Alarms be installed? — At a minimum they should be on every level of your house near the stairs connecting levels. On bedroom levels they should be installed near the bedrooms. We recommend that they be installed in every bedroom as well.
Electric smoke alarms should be wired ahead of any regularly used lighting to ensure that their circuits are operating. If more than one electric smoke detector is in use, they must be wired such that if one signals, all alarms will sound. It is recommended that electric models should have a battery backup or in any event used in conjunction with battery-operated models. New homes must be wired with the appropriate approved electric model.
Tip — Change the batteries in your smoke alarms at least twice a year and do it when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time. One report states that 40% of inspected smoke alarms do not work largely as a result of dead batteries.
What Smoke Alarm should you buy? — there are pros and cons to almost every unit on the market these days. The old adage seems to be the best though — you get what you pay for, so don’t scrimp on your smoke detector. Manufacturers must meet a minimum threshold for sensing smoke and so, some do just that — others do more.
What are Heat Sensors? — basically, a high limit switch, which signal when a predetermined temperature is achieved or something over heats. These units are particularly useful in areas where open flames might be present or near heat sources, for example. Some smoke detectors will detect heat as well as smoke.
Why have Gas Detectors? — There has been much discussion of late about the thousands and thousands of Carbon Monoxide (CO) deaths each year. We continue to see very few CO detectors in homes although numbers appear to be increasing in recent years.
CO is a colourless, odourless, and, non-irritating gas. CO is produced wherever fossil fuels (such as, gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, charcoal, or, wood) are burnt without sufficient air. Of all the non-fire-related carbon monoxide deaths’ estimates are that 80% relate to gas-fuelled appliances.
The use of CO detectors in homes will greatly reduce the number of deaths and injuries. Only a few minutes exposure to CO can cause a person to collapse and die from large doses. Chronic exposure to low levels of CO will lessen your life span. It can also cause severe heart and brain damage.
Are there other Gas Detectors? — with indoor air quality becoming a greater concern of late there are more and more gas detectors available on the market today. They include, gas detectors for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and Radon Gas. They come a variety of forms such as badge style or personal detectors as well as well as plug-in models. On-site testing for the presence of the gases can also be done on an as needed basis.
How Do You Clean Your Alarms, Sensors & Detectors? — Dust and debris can clog your devices and they may not perform as intended as a result.
For battery-powered devices, you can clean them by removing the cover. Then gently vacuum the cover and inside with a soft bristle brush.
For electrically-connected devices, turn off the power to the unit and then gently vacuum the vents on it’s exterior only. Turn the power back on.
Test all devices after cleaning them.