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One of the most important safety features you can have installed in your home is the smoke detector and they are now required by law. In the event of a fire, it could save the lives of you and your loved ones. Smoke detectors provide the early warning needed to prevent fire fatalities.
Don’t put yourself at an increased risk; call Mr. Electric London South West on 0208 645 5147 to update your smoke detectors today!
There are two main kinds of smoke detectors – ionization and photoelectric. Both types of smoke detectors effectively sense smoke and both are required to pass the UL certification. However, there are key differences in the way they operate and in how they respond to smoke.
This type of detector has continuous current running between two electrodes and when smoke goes into the unit, the current is interrupted and the alarm sounds. The drawback to this type of smoke detector is that it cannot tell the difference between steam and smoke. This makes ionization smoke detectors subject to false alarms when placed near kitchens and bathrooms. They have a tendency to respond to things like burnt toast and hot showers. The advantage of ionization detectors over photoelectric detectors is that they are less expensive and they respond more quickly to flaming fires. In addition, when the battery starts to fail, these detectors will alert you to change the battery because the alarm will sound.
This type of detector responds to a reduction in light reaching an internal photocell. When smoke goes into the unit, the light is scattered and the alarm sounds. These detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires than ionization smoke detectors. In addition, because these detectors are less likely to send out a false alarm, they are less likely to be a nuisance. However, this type of smoke detector will not alert you when the batteries are dead.
Whichever smoke detector you decide to use, both should have their batteries changed annually. Mr. Electric London South West recommends picking a day every year that you will remember, like New Year's Day or your birthday, and go around the house to test your detectors and change the batteries.
Smoke Detector and Fire Safety Tips
Here is a list of tips to follow to help keep you and your family safe.
- Have at least one smoke detector on each level of your house.
- Check the operation of your smoke detectors and alarms every six to twelve months.
- Be sure to have battery powered back-up in your smoke detectors (rechargeable batteries are not recommended).
- Avoid placing smoke detectors near drafts, doors and windows.
- Be sure that your smoke detectors are centered on the ceiling and they are at least six inches away from the wall. If you have a wall unit, make sure that it is at least one foot below the ceiling.
- The best location for smoke detectors is near bedrooms, in hallways and at the top of stairwells.
- To keep dust from building up within the smoke detector, lightly vacuum the detector annually.
- Do not pull the unit from the wall to try to turn off a false alarm.
- Do not remove the batteries except to change them. Thirty percent of smoke detectors don't work because the user has removed the battery and forgotten to replace it.
- If you cannot afford smoke detectors, please contact your local fire station. They will let you know about local programs to help the elderly and the poor.
- Keep at least one fire blanket somewhere in your home.
- Keep at least one fire extinguisher somewhere in your home.
- Establish an emergency exit plan with your family.
- Once you exit your home, DO NOT return! Many people have lost their lives going back into their home. Wait for firefighters to arrive.
First, push the test button on the smoke detector to see if the alarm sounds. This will let you know if the battery is working or if the electrical power is connected. Second, test the smoke detector by placing a lit match or a lit candle 6 inches below it to see if the alarm will sound. If the alarm does not sound, blow out the candle or match and see if the smoke sets it off. If the smoke detector still does not go off then you may need to replace the unit. It is important to remember that just because the power is working it does not mean the smoke detection device is working. Be sure to check them both.
Is your home protected from carbon monoxide poisoning?
People who are unconscious due to inebriation or sleep can die before they ever experience the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, depending upon the levels of carbon monoxide in the air you can die within minutes or hours. A carbon monoxide detector will alert you and your family when there is a risk of being poisoned.
Look for warning signs like:
- Light Headedness
- Fatigue or Weakness
- Irregular Breathing
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
- Food Poisoning
Monitor dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home with a carbon monoxide detector.
Sources of carbon monoxide:
Carbon monoxide is found in many household appliances like gas ranges or stoves, water heaters, furnaces and gas or wood fireplaces. Carbon monoxide can also be produced by fuel burning space heaters, exhaust from cars, gas or charcoal grills, and clogged chimneys or flues. If items like these are in poorly ventilated areas, carbon monoxide can build up. Before you know it, you're surrounded by toxic air that will poison you if you inhale.