Smoke Alarms—Why, Where, and Which
A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death. Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home. But no matter where or how, having a smoke alarm is the first key step towards your family's safety.
This information is not intended to be all inclusive, but it is intended to inform you about some of the safety aspects and importance of having and maintaining working smoke alarms in your home.
Why are Smoke Alarms Important?
Every year in the United States, about 3,000 people lose their lives in residential fires. In a fire, smoke and deadly gases tend to spread farther and faster than heat. That's one reason why most fire victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases, not as a result of burns. A majority of fatal fires happen when families are asleep because occupants are unaware of the fire until there is not adequate time to escape. A smoke alarm stands guard around the clock and, when it first senses smoke, it sounds a shrill alarm. This often allows a family the precious but limited time it takes to escape.
About two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms are considered to be one of the best and least expensive means of providing an early warning of a potentially deadly fire and could reduce the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost half.
Where Should Smoke Alarms be Installed?
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
A smoke alarm should be installed and maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. When installing a smoke alarm, many factors influence where you will place it, including how many are to be installed. Consider placing alarms along your escape path to assist in egress in limited visibility conditions. In general you should place alarms in the center of a ceiling or, if you place them on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.
- Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
- Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring.
- Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.
- Do not place a smoke alarm too close to a kitchen appliance or fireplace, as this may result in nuisance alarms.
- Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.
- Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Smoke alarms don't last forever.
- Develop and practice a fire escape plan, because working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan will increase your protection in case of a fire.
Read more at FireSafety.gov
Home Fire Safety
A majority of all structure fires occur at residential structures. Residential homes and apartment fires account for 76% of structure fires in 2011 according to report issued by the National Fire Protection Association in 2012. Home fires caused 2,520 or 84% of the civilian fire deaths. There are proven ways to prevent and survive a home fire. It's not a question of luck but a matter of planning ahead. Below is a home fire safety checklist that can be used to make sure you and your family are doing your part to prevent a fire from occurring in your home.
Make a Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.
Practice Escaping from Every Room in the Home
- Practice escape plans every month.
- Plan two ways out of each room.
- Immediately leave your home when a fire occurs.
- Never open doors that are hot to the touch.
- Designate a meeting location away from your home.
- Once you're out, stay out!
Practice escape plans every month. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or using an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened. Also, practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
How to Use: Draw a basic diagram of your home, marking all windows and doors, and plan two routes of escape out of each room. Consider various fire scenarios when creating your plan and develop actions for a safe escape in each case.
Once Out, Stay Out
Remember to escape first and then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.
Read more at FireSafety.gov
Practice Fire Safety
More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 20,000 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. Itís not a question of luck. Itís a matter of practicing and planning ahead.
How do I practice...
Residential Fire Sprinklers
Millions of Americans have installed smoke alarms in their homes in the past few years, but a smoke alarm can only alert the occupants to a fire in the houseóit cannot contain or extinguish a fire. Residential sprinkler systems can!
Read more at FireSafety.gov
After a Fire
Recovering from a fire can be a physically and mentally draining process. When fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact.
This section of FireSafety.gov provides information on recovering from a fire, including what to do during the first 24 hours, insurance considerations, valuing your property, replacement of valuable documents, salvage hints, fire department operations, and more. Action on some of the suggestions will need to be taken immediately. Some actions may be needed in the future while others will be on going. The purpose of this information is to give you the assistance needed to assist you as you begin rebuilding your life.
Click the links below for more information:
Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Killer
Each year unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims hundreds of lives and sends thousands of people to the emergency room for treatment.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill before you are aware it is in your home.
CO gas can come from several sources: gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces, and motor vehicles.
Read more at FireSafety.gov
Safe Kids - Who We Are
Safe Kids USA is a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14.
We educate families, provide safety devices to families in need and advocate for better laws to help keep children safe, healthy and out of the emergency room.
More than 600 coalitions and chapters in all 50 states bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.
Safe Kids USA members
- Teach families about child injury risks and prevention
- Encourage and conduct research on leading injury risks
- Evaluate solutions for injury risks
- Work to pass and improve child safety laws and regulations
- Provide lifesaving devices such as child safety seats, helmets and smoke alarms to families who need them
- Promote corporate leadership in child safety through effective and sustainable partnerships
Safe Kids USA is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury.
Safe Kids Worldwide was founded in 1987 as the National SAFE KIDS Campaign by Children’s National Medical Center with support from Johnson & Johnson. Safe Kids Worldwide is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Washington, D.C.