November 1, 2012
KINGSPORT - The end of daylight-saving time on November 4th can be a life saver. The Kingsport Fire Department reminds you the time change is a convenient reminder to change the batteries in your home smoke alarms. The KFD would also like to remind you that other than home sprinkler system, smoke alarms are one of you best defenses in a home fire.
Over 3,000 people die in house fires in the United States every year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that nearly half of those deaths occur in the 4 percent of homes that do not have working smoke alarms. The NFPA also says that 20 percent of home smoke alarms do not work because of dead or missing batteries.
The importance of smoke alarms is underscored by a statistic from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: your chance of surviving a house fire doubles if there is working smoke alarms in your home.
Although smoke-alarm batteries might last as long as a year, the experts say they should be changed twice yearly: at the return of standard time on the first Sunday in November, and then again when clocks are changed to daylight-saving time on the second Sunday in March.
Even if your smoke alarms are "hard wired" into your home electrical system, they probably have backup batteries to make sure the alarms work during a power failure. It's also important to use the right kind of batteries. Ordinarily alkaline or lithium batteries are best. Rechargeable batteries designed for high-tech electronics are not suited for smoke alarms.
Besides changing the batteries twice a year, it's also important to check smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. The NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be replaced every 10 years.
There are two kinds of smoke alarms available for home use: Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, while photoelectric alarms respond more quickly to smoldering fires. Although either type will eventually react to most fires, the NFPA says it is best to use both types in your home. Some manufacturers offer dual-sensor alarms combining ionization and photoelectric sensors in one unit.
There should be one smoke alarm in every bedroom, along with an alarm outside sleeping areas. Make sure you have at least one alarm on each level of your home. To increase the level of protection, consider installing wireless smoke alarms that are interconnected, so all alarms sound as soon as one detects smoke. Because smoke rises, install smoke alarms high on the wall or on the ceiling.
Smoke Alarm Safety Quick Tips from the KFD and NFPA
1. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric (dual sensor) alarms are recommended.
2. Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. For the best protection, interconnect (hard wired or wireless connection) all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
3. Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
4. Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturers’ instructions for testing and maintenance.
5. Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
6. Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use ten year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
7. Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must be installed by a qualified electrician.
8. If cooking fumes or steam sets off nuisance alarms, replace the alarm with a photoelectric type alarm or an alarm that has a “hush” button. A “hush” button will reduce the alarm’s sensitivity for a short period of time.
9. Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf. These alarms use strobe lights. Vibration equipment is required with these alarms. This equipment is activated by the sound of the smoke alarm.
10. People with mild to severe hearing loss can use a device that will make a mixed, low-pitched sound. This device is activated by the sound of a traditional smoke alarm.
11. When you do shop for a smoke alarm, look for units with the Underwriters Laboratory label, typically the letters "UL" in a circle.