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Tips for Smoke Detectors

Author: Ralph Winn

Every 83 seconds a residential fire breaks out in the United States. Each year, residential fires injure over 39,000 American children under the age of 14. In two-thirds of these homes, the smoke detector either doesn't work or doesn't exist.

Statistics show that installing a smoke detector saves lives. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), "Homes with a smoke detector typically have a death rate that is 40 to 50 percent less than the rate for homes without a smoke detector."

The NFPA sets the rules and regulations pertaining to residential smoke detectors, but most people aren't aware of these policies. The NFPA also provides the public with information on smoke detector maintenance and when you should replace them.

Regulations for Smoke Detectors

Because a smoke detector is usually hardwired into the electrical systems of many older homes, retrofitting these residences with a new smoke detector is often difficult. But, upgrading your smoke detector is essential to ensuring you and your family are safe if a fire ever breaks out in your home.

Below are the NFPA smoke detector regulations for existing homes.

- Place a smoke detector, loud enough to hear through a closed door, outside each bedroom.
- Install at least one smoke detector on each level of the home.
- A smoke detector powered by the home's electrical system must have battery-powered backup.
- All smoke detectors on each floor must be interconnected.

According to NFPA regulations, an additional smoke detector must be located in each sleeping area.

Replacing and Maintaining Your Smoke Detector

"Simple steps like maintaining smoke detectors and replacing older ones help diminish the possibility of fire deaths in the home," says John R. Hall, Jr., NFPA's assistant vice president for fire analysis and research. The rules of thumb are to replace a smoke detector every 10 years and when you move into a new residence.

A smoke detector is a crucial fire-safety tool, but installing and replacing it is only half the battle. Proper maintenance is also necessary. Performing the following tasks makes it easy to keep your smoke detector in good working condition.

- Perform a monthly check by pressing the test button on your smoke detector.
- Replace batteries annually and when the smoke detector begins to emit the low-battery warning beep.
- Clean your smoke detector weekly by a vacuuming any accumulated dust or dander, and wipe it down monthly with a damp rag.
- Install long-lasting batteries into all smoke detectors.

Smoke detector maintenance is neither difficult nor time consuming, but it is imperative to ensure proper function.

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About the Author:
Ralph Winn writes about Security Systems and other related topics. For more information on Home Security

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