Fire Safety and Prevention
Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With! is NFPA’s official theme for Fire Prevention Week (FPW), October 7-13-18. If you’re wondering why NFPA, the official sponsor of FPW for nearly 90 years, is focusing on smoke alarms when most homes already have at least one, you've come to the right place!
This year's campaign is designed to educate people about the importance of smoke alarms and encourages everyone to take the steps necessary to update and maintain their home smoke alarm protection.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home (including the basement), outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms. Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
Interconnection of smoke alarms is highly recommended; when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do. (This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.) A licensed electrician can install hard-wired multiple-station alarms. Wireless alarms, which manufacturers have more recently begun producing, can be installed by the homeowner.
There are two types of smoke alarm technologies – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires – like a pan fire or the smoke from cooking. A photoelectric alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires – like a cigarette, overheated wiring or something hot like a space heater. Install both types of alarms in your home or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms that take advantage of both technologies.
Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button. If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
All smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and those that are hard-wired alarms, should be replaced when they’re 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.
Never remove or disable a smoke alarm.
Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing.
There are some smoke alarms with strobes or the ability to be used with strobes – also called visible notification appliances – that signal to awaken those that are deaf (those with profound hearing loss.) the use of tactile notification appliances (such as a pillow or bed shaker) is also now required, and activated by the sound of the smoke alarm. The means for signaling to awaken those who are hard of hearing (those with mild to severe hearing loss) is through the use of a complex low frequency audible signal. Smoke alarms currently on the market do not produce this signal. However, separate notification appliances are available that do produce this signal, and are activated by the sound of the smoke alarm.
For The Kids:
Smoke alarms and home fire escape planning
- If there is a fire in your home, there will be smoke.
- A smoke alarm will let you know there is a fire.
- A smoke alarm makes a loud noise – beep, beep, beep.
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
- Go to your family outside meeting place.
- Ask a grown-up to show you where the smoke alarms are in your home.
- Ask a grown-up to test the smoke alarms to make sure they are working.
- Be a home fire escape planning
- Make a map of your home. Mark a door and a window that can be used to get out of every room.
- Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.
- Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
- Have a grown-up sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape plan with everyone living in your home.
- Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and remind grown-ups to have your family practice the plan twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.