Alarms save lives

A few facts and suggestions

By TED WADDELL
Posted 10/6/21

NATIONWIDE — The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which takes place October 3–9, is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.”

According to information published by …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Alarms save lives

A few facts and suggestions

Posted

NATIONWIDE — The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which takes place October 3–9, is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.”

According to information published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the group behind Fire Prevention Week, when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, there are several critical factors to consider about these detectors:

A continuous set of three loud beeps—beep, beep, beep—means that the alarm has detected the presence of smoke, so “Get out, call 9-1-1, and stay out!” as the saying goes. A continuous set of four sharp chirps—chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp—means the alarm has detected the presence of carbon monoxide, a deadly odorless gas, so, again, “Get out, call 9-1-1, and stay out!”

While there are numerous single smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on the market, some manufacturers produce combined units that incorporate the features of both types into one device.

A single beep or chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means that the battery (for battery-powered units) is low, and must be replaced with a fresh, fully-charged battery.

Smoke and CO alarms come in two versions, battery-powered and hard-wired. The hard-wired ones usually have a battery backup.

All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.

Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced indicates that the alarm is at the end of its lifespan, and the unit must be replaced as soon as possible.

Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

Frequently asked questions about smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

What’s the difference between smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms? Why do I need both?

“Smoke alarms sense smoke well before you can, alerting you to danger. In the event of fire, you may have as little as two minutes to escape safely,” according to the NFPA, “which is why smoke alarms need to be in every bedroom, outside of the sleeping areas, (like a hallway), and on each level (including the basement). Do not put smoke alarms in your kitchen or bathrooms.”

On carbon monoxide and alarms

When someone inhales carbon monoxide, it displaces the oxygen in their body. It also displaces oxygen in the brain, and can knock the victim out before he or she realizes something is wrong. And of course, without oxygen, a person can die of CO poisoning in a short time.

The gas is colorless and odorless.

CO alarms detect the presence of carbon monoxide and alert you, so you can get out, call 9-1-1 and let the professionals handle it. Do not go back in the house.

How do I know which smoke and CO alarm to choose for my home?

“Choose an alarm that is listed with a testing laboratory,” the NFPA notes, “meaning it has met certain standards for protection.” Both the kind that needs the batteries changed twice a year and the 10-year unit (which is changed at the end of 10 years) will provide protection.

As with smoke alarms, choose a CO alarm that is listed with a testing laboratory.  For the best protection, use combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected throughout the home, according to the NFPA. Interconnected alarms can be installed by a qualified electrician so that when one sounds, they all sound. “This ensures you can hear the alarm no matter where in your home the alarm originates.”

What if someone in my home is deaf or hard of hearing?

Some alarms have strobe lights as well; they will flash to alert a deaf or hard of hearing person. Nighttime can be dangerous because the hard of hearing often don’t wear their hearing aids at night, so a special “bed shaker” alarm can be purchased. A vibrating pad, it can be placed under a mattress or pillow and connected to a smoke alarm.  

Why are alarms important?

On the importance of fire prevention, the NFPA says, “In a fire, mere seconds can mean the difference between a safe escape and a tragedy. Fire safety education isn’t just for school children. Teenagers, adults, and the elderly are also at risk in fires, making it important every October during Fire Prevention Week to make sure they understand how to stay safe in case of a fire.”

For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association website, www.nfpa.org and the Fire Prevention Week site www.firepreventionweek.org. Your local fire department is an excellent source of information about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and where they should be located.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here