Every year since 1922, during the week in which October 9th falls, we observe national Fire Prevention Week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. A fire that claimed the lives of over 250 people and left over 100,000 more homeless. The observance of this terrible event now serves us as an opportunity and reminder of the importance of fire safety and prevention. For 2015, Hear the Beep Where You Sleep is the National Fire Prevention Week theme to help raise awareness and bring attention to an all-too-often overlooked component to fire safety in the home, nighttime home fire safety.
Half of home fire deaths were the result of fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. – the hours when many Americans are asleep in their beds. And up to 25% of home fire deaths were due to fires that started in the bedroom. With statistics like these it’s easy to understand why the NFPA chose this year’s theme and why it is of such vital importance to make sure you have smoke alarms in the right places in your home to protect you and your loved ones throughout the night.
The Right Stuff
Companies now utilize several different types of sense and detection technologies to aid homeowners with fire safety. It’s important to understand the differences and why you may need more than one type of sensor in your home.
Responsive to ‘flaming’ fires, these detectors utilize a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically-charged plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the ion flow which activates the alarm.
These detectors utilize a light source directed away from a light sensor. When smoke enters the sensing chamber, light bounces off the particles and activate the light sensor which triggers the alarm. These types of sensors are more sensitive to smoldering fires, where less heat and flame is generated initially.
The oldest technology still in use, these detectors have an element inside that activates once a set temperature is reached or if a specific rise in temperature occurs. While these detectors have a lower false alarm rate, they are also much slower in detecting fires and are frequently paired with one of the other types of detectors.
Read our article to learn more about the different types of fire safety sensors and detectors that are available.
Advantages of Monitored Fire Safety
If you already have a home security system in your house, you can complement your stand-alone fire detection system by adding sensors and detectors that are connected to your home security. With companies like Frontpoint Security, Guardian Protection Services, and ADT this is easy. If you are a customer of another security company be sure to check with your provider to find out their smoke and heat sensor offerings.
1. There When You Aren’t
While traditional smoke and heat detectors do a great job of alerting you and your family to fire danger when you’re home, they have limited benefit when you’re not there. Your home and your pets are left vulnerable and exposed to the dangers of a home fire without the aid of a monitored sensor.
2. Supervised Performance
Along with 24/7 monitoring and remote alerts, these sensors also offer the added peace of mind of self-diagnosis. In addition to testing their basic detection and operational status the signal connection to the monitoring center will also be verified. If there’s any problem in the communication chain, you’ll be notified – before an emergency situation occurs.
The Right Place
Alarms should be installed in every bedroom in your home as well as outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home – including your basement.
Mount your smoke alarms high on the walls or on the ceilings. If your bedroom has vaulted ceilings, place the alarm close to the apex between four to 36 inches.
Do not install an alarm in a location that may interfere with its ability to detect properly. For example, do not place your detector near a window or door or if there is an air vent or duct that could significantly disturb the air.
The Right Time
Whether a smoke alarm is part of a stand-alone system or is attached to your home monitoring service, you need to make sure the sensor is operational. Experts recommend you test the batteries in your smoke alarms every 30 days to make sure they’re functional. You should also keep track of how old each alarm in your house is and replace any that are 10 years or older. If you aren’t sure how old an alarm is, err on the side of caution and have it replaced.
Interested in learning more about proper home fire safety measures during Fire Prevention Week? Visit the NFPA’s web site at firepreventionweek.org to learn more.