Reduce Fire Risk in Your Home with Smoke Detectors

What happens when there is a fire in your home? Statistically you will be at home when fire breaks out and most likely asleep. The fire will start with a common household activity (cooking, heating, lighting, etc.). A single flame, such as a candle, can turn into a full-fledged fire in 30-60 seconds. Temperatures in rooms adjacent to the fire will rise to hundreds of degrees before bursting into flames themselves. In five minutes, or less, one-half of your home is engulfed in flames. The fire rapidly replaces oxygen in the house with carbon monoxide and causes you to become drowsy and disorientated. Pitch black burning smoke, the leading cause of fire-related injuries, quickly fills the house, spreading faster than the fire itself. Breathing this smoke instantly damages your lungs. Your obvious instinct is to escape but visibility is low. At this point, many fire victims become lost in their own homes. Unable to see or think straight, they die within steps of an exit. Depending on where the fire starts and the rate at which the fire spreads, you’ll have 60-120 seconds to get yourself, children and pets out of the house.

Thankfully, for most readers this is only a hypothetical scenario, for thousands of others it’s an unfortunate reality. A Johns Creek, GA house fire claimed the lives of both a resident and a firefighter in 2007. The evening fire, started by an unattended candle on the porch, spread quickly throughout the house without sounding any smoke alarms. The surviving homeowner said the sleeping residents had no knowledge of the fire until the barking dog woke them from sleep.

More than 2,000 people die in house fires throughout the United States each year according to the U.S. Fire Administration and the majority of these happen in homes without smoke detection. The reason is, without smoke detectors to warn about a fire, there is little or no time to escape.

Georgia building codes have changed in recent years to require mandatory smoke detection that is hardwired into the electrical system. In 2006 the building codes where changed to also require smoke detectors in every bedroom. These smoke detectors are specifically linked with the other smoke detectors in your home for simultaneous sounding. This means every smoke detector sounds when one smoke detector “discovers” smoke. Apart from being very loud, this set-up guarantees that a fire in the basement does not go unnoticed by a homeowner sleeping in an upstairs bedroom. Every person, in every room of the house, is alerted at the same time.

This is a major upgrade because many fire victims are children and elderly who were never alerted to the fire or were simply left behind in the panic. Regrettably, a majority of homes in Georgia were built before 2006 and still lack this important upgrade.

Every homeowner should take a few minutes each year to check their smoke detector systems. Here is a helpful checklist:

  1. Do you have smoke detectors? Where are they? You should have a smoke detector in the following rooms and areas in your home:
    1. Hallways
    2. Bedrooms
    3. Basement
    4. Garage
    5. Mechanical Room
    6. Bonus Rooms or Attic Rooms
  2. Are they functional?
    1. Press the “test” button. The alarm should sound immediately.
    2. Check the battery back-up. Smoke detectors should be hardwired into your electrical system and also have a battery back-up function.
    3. Are they less than ten years old? Most manufacturers recommend replacing any smoke detector that is more than ten years old.
  3. Are your Smoke Detectors Linked?
    1. Press the “test” button and listen for which other smoke detectors sound. Can you hear every smoke detector from everywhere in the house? A smoke detector is not effective if you cannot hear it or if it does not activate during a fire.

For additional information about smoke detectors visit www.ThrasherElectric.com

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