Originally Posted By: jbowman
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TIP SHEET - SMOKE ALARMS
Interesting Web Sites:
www.usfa.fema.gov - Home Safety tips.
www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/sa.htm - Great for kids and grown-ups alike
www.nachifoundation.org - Safe House program
I can never stress enough the importance of Smoke Alarms. I could quote national statistics and studies, but instead choose to take the "common sense" approach. Everyone understands and recognizes the need and importance of smoke alarms, I'm going to hit on the practicality of them.
When first introduced during the early 70's, professionally installed alarms for a typical three bedroom home costs nearly $1,000.00. In today's market that same home could cost less than $100.00. A cheap investment for our first line of defense against fires.
Smoke alarms, like anything else, vary in costs, types, and installation procedures. Careful attention to the installation instructions must be taken. Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling 6 to 8 inches out from the corner or 6 to 8 inches below the ceiling on side walls. One should be located at each bedroom and on each floor of the residence. Major areas such as the kitchen and furnace/utility rooms should have them. The majority of codes require them in this area. If they don't they should. Smoke alarms have a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years and are found in most hardware, and home supply stores. I strongly recommend using UL-Listed alarms only. Types and descriptions of various alarms follow:
- You have your basic smoke alarm that costs anywhere from $10.00 to $20.00 each. These alarms are normally installed using a basic screw driver or even better yet have a sticky pad available on the bottom side. They use a 9 v. battery and sound a short audible "chirp or beep" when the battery is low and needs replacing.
- Whole unit replacement alarms - Exactly the same as your basic smoke alarm except they are designed to be replaced as a whole unit, thus avoiding the need for battery replacement. Some come with a ten-year battery. Prices vary from $15.00 on up. (Tough to locate at this time because they are fairly new to the market.)
- "Hard wired" alarms. These alarms are connected to a 110 electrical circuit and may or may not have battery back-up. I recommend battery back-up. Prices vary from $25.00 on up for each alarm. They may be installed individually or in series. In series means when one alarm "sounds off" they all do.
- Hearing Impaired alarms. Specifically designed for the hearing impaired these alarms cost over $100.00 each. These alarms are required to operate on a 110 electrical circuit. Some are "hard wired" and others simply plug into an existing receptacle. These alarms produce a brilliant illuminating strobe light which when activated will interrupt the deepest sleep. Most have an extremely loud alarm and strobe light and also have battery back-up.
(If you know of any family in need of any one of these alarms but are financially strapped, please, either have them contact the NACHI Foundation or contact them yourself at www.nachifoundation.org to see how they may help or assist in the purchase of these alarms. Also check with your local Fire Departments or municipalities. Some offer smoke alarms for little or no cost, or will even install them for you. When calling use THE NON-EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER.)
Maintenance of smoke alarms is basic. Here are some tips:
- Clean regularly. Dust and debris will interfere with normal operation.
- Replace batteries at least once a year.
- Schedule regular maintenance and tests.
- Never remove batteries to disable an alarm that sounds every time you cook. The alarm is working fine, it's your cooking habits that may need investigating.
I hope you enjoyed this little tip. As always if you feel uncomfortable performing any of these tasks, please consult a professional. Drop me a line and let me know what you think of this and other Tip Sheets at firstname.lastname@example.org. This tip sheet is distributed freely to NACHI members and guests. Feel free to copy and disseminate this information in any way you feel comfortable with. You can either credit Bowman Contracting for the information or adjust the content to facilitate your own business or organization.