Keeping the home fires out

Multiple home smoke alarms recommended
by David Maas
ELBURN—The first week in October is Fire Prevention Week, and this year’s theme, Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With, stresses the importance of home fire-detection devices.

Nearly two-thirds of residential-fire deaths per year result from fires in residences with no smoke alarms or alarms that are not functioning, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A home should have multiple smoke alarms.

“Fire (smoke) alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home,” said Captain Alan Isberg, Fire Marshall of the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District.

Two types of home smoke alarms are the ionization alarm, which is more responsive to flaming fires, and the photoelectric alarm, which is more responsive to smoldering fires.

“For best protection, both types of alarms, or a combination ionization/photoelectric alarm, are recommended,” Isberg said.

Smoke alarms can be purchased at local grocery stores, and larger stores such as Target, K-Mart, Wal-mart and most hardware stores, and can range in price from $14 to $35.

“The $35 smoke alarms usually have additional features,” Isberg said.

Special alarms are also available for those with hearing problems, which can use a variety of means to alert residents about a fire, including a low-pitch sound or strobe lights.

The correct placement of a smoke alarm is also very important.

“Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following manufacturer’s instructions high on a wall or a ceiling,” Isberg said. “Alarms that are hard-wired must be installed by a qualified electrician.”

Isberg also emphasized the importance of alarm upkeep.

“Test fire (smoke) alarms at least monthly,” Isberg said, “Replace batteries at least once a year. If an alarm chirps, the battery is low, and replace it right away.”

For more information and fire safety tips, visit www.NFPA.org.