In spite of the fact that smoke alarms have been around since the 1970s, nearly one half of all home fires and three-fourths of all deaths due to fire occurs in homes which have no alarms. Thousands of people are killed each year in house fires where there are no alarms present. Also, there are more houses with alarm systems that do not work than there are houses without an alarm at all. Statistics also tells us that most people who perished in house fires were not in the room where the fire broke out.
One of the most important types of home improvement that all homeowners can make is to install and maintain smoke detectors. A working alarm alerts family members to fire and allow them enough time to flee where seconds and minutes can make the difference between life and death.
If you are living in a home without smoke alarms of if your home has outdated smoke alarms (older than 10 years), you should buy new ones. Be sure the smoke alarms you buy have labeled proof that they have been tested by an independent testing laboratory. Smoke alarms can use either an ionization sensor or a photoelectric sensor. In the case of a fire, smoke interferes with the electrical current in the alarm- which makes the alarm sound.
You can purchase these alarms at home improvement stores. Be sure that you buy the correct number of alarms. It is recommended that alarms should be installed inside each bedroom in a house and one should also be installed in or near the living area such as the family room and living room. Also, one should be in place in the kitchen area of the home, one in the basement and one alarm in each of the hallways of your home.
Due to the fact that smoke and toxic gases rise, the alarms must be installed on the ceiling at least 5 inches from the nearest wall. If this is not possible, they can be installed high up on a wall, approximately 6 inches from the ceiling. You should not put them any closer to the ceiling due to the fact that “dead air” spaces are formed by hot air and the alarm may miss those areas that are near a ceiling or a wall. If any of the rooms in your house have vaulted ceilings, put the alarm near the highest point of the vaulted ceiling.
Once you have made this gravely important home improvement, you should be sure to never disable the alarms and you also must test battery-operated alarms once every month to be sure that they are operating correctly. To test it you need to only push the test button and listen for the alarm. In the case that you cannot reach the alarm, simply use a broom handle to press the test button. If all of the smoke alarms in your home are working properly, your chances of dying in a fire are drastically reduced.
You also must remember to replace the batteries once per year or when you hear the alarm chirping. If it makes this “chirp” which is very distinctive, first replace the batteries. If this does not work then try to clean the alarm with a vacuum hose. If it is chirping due to an accumulation of dust or cobwebs, vacuuming around the openings should remedy this problem. If it continues to chirp after replacing the batteries and cleaning, then you must replace it with a new one as it is most likely defective.