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Smoke Detectors Save Lives

The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are asleep.
Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping
person. The poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses
and put you into a deeper sleep.

Inexpensive household smoke detectors sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire.
By giving you time to escape, smoke detectors cut your risk of dying in a
home fire nearly in half. Smoke detectors save so many lives that most
states have laws requiring them in private homes.

Choosing a Detector

Be sure that the smoke detectors you buy carry the label of an independent
testing laboratory.

Several types of detectors are available. Some run on batteries, others on
household current. Some detect smoke using an "ionization" sensor, others
use a "photoelectric" detection system. All approved smoke detectors,
regardless of type, will offer adequate protection provided they are
installed and maintained properly.

Is One Enough?

Every home should have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on
every level of the home, including the basement. The National Fire Alarm
, developed by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), requires a
smoke detector in each sleeping room for new construction. On floors without
bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as
dens, living rooms, or family rooms.

Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear smoke detector's alarms. If
any residents are hearing-impaired or sleep with bedroom doors closed,
install additional detectors inside sleeping areas as well. There are
special smoke detectors for the hearing-impaired; these flash a light in
addition to sounding an audible alarm.

For extra protection, NFPA suggests installing detectors in dining rooms,
furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways. Smoke detectors are not
recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages-where cooking fumes, steam,
or exhaust fumes could set off false alarms-or for attics and other unheated
spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect a detector's

Where to Install

Because smoke rises, mount detectors high on a wall or on the ceiling.
Wall-mounted units should be mounted so that the top of the detector is 4 to
12 inches (10 to 30 centimeters) from the ceiling. A ceiling-mounted
detector should be attached at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) from the
nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the detector at or
near the ceilings highest point.

In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, position smoke detectors
anywhere in the path of smoke moving up the stairs. But always position
smoke detectors at the bottom of closed stairways, such as those leading from
the basement, because dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway
could prevent smoke from reaching a detector located at the top.

Don't install a smoke detector too near a window, door, or forced-air
register where drafts could interfere with the detector's operation.

False Alarms

If nuisance alarms persist, do not disable the detector. Replace it.

*Never disable a detector by "borrowing" its battery for another use.

*Replace battery as necessary and check it Spring and Fall.

Plan and Practice

-Make sure everyone is familiar with the sound of the detector's alarm.

-Plan escape routes. Know at least two ways out of each room. Agree on a
meeting place outside your home where all residents will gather after they
escape. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

-Remove obstructions from doors and windows needed for escape.

-Make sure everyone in the household can unlock doors and windows quickly,
even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars should be equipped
with quick-release devices and everyone in the household should know how to
use them.

-When an alarm sounds, leave immediately. Go directly to your meeting place
and call the fire department form a neighbors phone.

-Once you're out, stay out. Never return to a burning building.

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NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)

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