Proper Care and Maintenance of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors (alarms) are your first call to action in case of an emergency. They are the reason many families get out alive when something unexpected happens. Regular maintenance and care should be taken to make sure they are functioning the way they are intended.

Both detectors should be tested monthly to ensure proper functionality. Pick a day you will remember such as the first day of every month and test the alarms to make sure you are allowing your family every chance possible to be warned in case of an emergency. Don’t forget the office too. Businesses often forget to check their alarms and should do so just as often as in your home.

Replacing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be done at least twice a year, and a great time to remember to do so is when you turn your clocks for Daylight Savings. Even wired in units have battery backs ups and those batteries need replaced as well. It only takes a minute to make sure your unit is functioning to the best of its ability and keep your family safe. This is also a great time to practice your emergency plan. Knowing how to get out and where to meet once you do often keeps members safe and calm in the case of an actual emergency as they already know what to do.

And speaking of replacing, how old are your detectors? Over time, dust gathers inside detectors, desensitizing the sensors. Smoke detectors need to be replaced at minimum every 10 years. Depending upon the model, older model carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every three years, and the newer ones, every 5-7 years. If your detectors have been damaged or are not working when tested, they should be replaced immediately, even if it is sooner than the recommended timeline. For wired systems, It is recommend to replace all connected alarms at the same time, even if some are working.

Both detectors are an essential part of a emergency strategy and should be maintained and cared for as best as possible. In a 2014 report, the NFPA said three of every five home-fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or with none that worked. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep. This “invisible killer” is produced by burning fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it can be poisoned. Ventilation does not guarantee safety.

Here are some additional fire and carbon monoxide safety tips.

  • Install both types of alarms outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home, including the basement. Large homes may need extra alarms. Combo units are now available for ease of installation.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms – whether hardwired or wireless — are best because when one is activated, they all sound.
  • Test alarms at least once a month. Simply press the test button to be sure the alarm works.
  • Have your furnace, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors. Never use a gas oven for heating your home.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Wall-mounted alarms should no more than 12 inches from the ceiling to the top of the alarm.
  • Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation. To reduce false alarms, keep alarms at least 10 feet from a stove.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes, even if doors and windows are open.
  • Never run a car in a garage that is attached to a house, even with the garage door open; always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car inside.
  • Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn of flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn of smoldering fires. It’s best to use some of both types.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows how to respond if they hear a smoke alarm.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

Make safety a priority for your home and business and schedule routine maintenance and care for your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors and if you require any assistance or replacements, make sure to call Sirrom Wiring and Electrical Service Ltd to keep your families safe.

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