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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
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
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
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.
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
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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