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From Conway Fire Rescue : What You Need to Know About Smoke Detectors

The Impact of Smoke Detectors In the 1960's, the average U. S. citizen had never heard of smoke detectors. By 1995, an estimated 93 percent of all American homes - single - and multi- family, apartments, nursing homes, dormitories, etc. - were equipped with alarms. By the mid 1980's, smoke detector laws, requiring that alarms be placed in all new and existing residences - existed in 38 stat es and thousands of municipalities nationwide. And smoke alarm provisions have been adopted by the entire model building code organizations.

Fire services across the country have played a major a nd influential public education role in alerting the public to the benefits of smoke detectors. Another ke y factor in this huge and rapid penetration of both the marketplace and the builder community has been the development and marketing of low cost detectors by commercial companies. In the early 1970's, the cost of protecting a three bedroom home with professionally installed detector was approximate ly $l000; today the cost of owner-installed alarms in the same house has come down to as little as $10 per al arm, or less than $50 for the entire home. This cost structure, combined with effective public edu cation (including key private-public partnerships), has caused a huge percentage of America's consumers, whether they are renting or buying, to demand smoke detector protection. The impact of smoke al arms on fire safety and protection is dramatic and can be simply stated. When fire breaks out, the smoke detector, functioning as an early warning system, reduces the risk of dying by nearly 50 percent. Alar ms are most people's first line of defense against fire.

In the event of a fire, properly installed and mainta ined smoke detectors will provide an early warning signal to your household. This alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape.

Why should my home have smoke detectors?

In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm can save your lif e and those of your loved ones. They are the single most important means of preventing house and apartment fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal -- so you and your family can escape. Smoke detectors are one of the best safety features you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family and your home.

Okay, where do I put them?

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, in cluding the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or in the early morning. For extra safety, install smoke detectors both inside and outside the sleeping area. Also, smoke detectors should be installed on the ceili ng or 6 to 8 inches below the ceiling on side walls. Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke detectors at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer's installation instructions.

Where would I get smoke detectors?

Many hardware, home supply or general merchandise stores carry smoke alarms. Make sure the detector you buy is UL-listed. If you are unsure wher e to buy one in your community, call Conway Fire Rescue (on a non-emergency telephone number) 248- 1720 or 2481726 and we will provide you with some suggestions. If you are a City of Conway resident we will provide a smoke detector for you.

Are smoke detectors hard to install?

Not a bit. In most cases, all you will need is a screwdriver. Many brands are self-adhesive and will automatically stick to the wall or ceiling where th ey are placed. However, be sure to follow the directions from the manufacturer because each brand is different. If you are uncomfortable standing on a ladder, ask a relative or friend for help. Conway Fire Rescue will actually install a smoke detector in your home for you.

How do I keep my smoke detectors working?

Smoke detectors are very easy to take care of. There are two steps to remember.

1. Simply replace the batteries at least once a year. Tip: Pick a holiday or your birthday and replace the batteries each year on that day. Some smoke detectors now on the market come with a ten-year battery. These detectors are designed to be replaced as a whole unit, thus avoiding the need for battery replacement. If your smoke detector starts making a "chirping" noise, replace the batteries and reset it.

2. Keep them clean. Dust and debris can inte rfere with their operation, so vacuum over and around your smoke detector regularly.

What if the detector goes off while I'm cooking?

Then it's doing its job. Do not disable your smoke alarm if it detectors due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the detector after cooking. Instead, clear the air by waving a towel near the detector, leaving the batteries in place. The detector may have to be moved to a new location.

How long will my smoke detector last?

About eight-to-ten years, after which it should be replaced. Like most electrical devices, smoke detectors wear out. You may want to write the purchase date with a marker on the inside of your unit. That way, you'll know when to replace it. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacement.

Anything else I should know?

Some smoke detectors are considered to be "hard wired." This means they are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery back-up. It's important to test every smoke detector monthly. And always use new batteries when replacing old ones

To Request A Smoke Detector
From The City of Conway, SC Fire Department


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