Protect Your Home & Family
Fire in the Home
American homes suffer an unwanted fire every 10 seconds, and every 60 seconds they suffer a fire serious enough to call the fire department. Most importantly, every three hours someone is killed in a home fire—that’s more than 2,600 people in 2006 alone. Another 13,000 people are injured in home fires in a typical year.
The Dangers of House Fires
Most home fires occur in the kitchen while cooking and are the leading cause of injuries from fire. However, they are often extinguished with only minor damage since a person is generally present. Common causes of fires at night are carelessly discarded cigarettes, sparks from fireplaces without spark screens or glass doors, and heating appliances left too close to furniture or other combustibles.
Smoke Alarms: How Many are Needed?
In multi-story homes, fires on a floor level without a smoke alarm can grow to dangerous conditions before sufficient smoke can rise in a stairway to set off an alarm on the upper floor. Based on this observation, most codes require that additional smoke alarms be located on each floor level of the home.
A closed door provides protection from smoke on the other side, but will also prevent smoke from reaching a smoke alarm. This is particularly a problem in bedrooms. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, you should add a smoke alarm in the bedroom; particularly if you smoke in the bedroom or there is a TV, air conditioner, or other major appliances in the bedroom that might start a fire. If you sleep with the bedroom door open, the alarm in the hall outside will detect a fire in the bedroom or elsewhere.
Smoke Alarms: What Type?
There are two basic types of smoke alarms available; the ionization type and the photoelectric type. The ionization alarm reacts faster to open flaming fires and is usually the least expensive. The photoelectric alarm reacts faster to smoldering fires and is less likely to react to cooking. You should consider getting one or more of each.
Smoke Alarms: Installation
In general, smoke alarms are installed on the ceiling or high on the wall. Alarms should be installed no closer than 3 feet from supply registers of forced air heating systems (that might blow on the alarm preventing it from exposure to smoke) and no closer than 3 feet from the door to a kitchen or a bathroom containing a shower (steam can set the alarm off when the door is opened).
Smoke Alarms: Testing
Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month. All smoke alarms have a test button that you push to check out the entire alarm, including its sensitivity (how much smoke it takes to set it off). If the testing mechanism does not work properly, the alarm should be replaced immediately. Never use open flame devices to test an alarm.