Few of us realize how easily—and how quickly—fire can destroy our homes and take the lives of those we love. Fortunately, a product is available that can help protect us against fire… the smoke alarm. It is your best source of fire protection.
By providing an early warning in the even of fire, smoke alarms may allow you and your family sufficient time to reach safety. Many people have neglected to install smoke alarms despite their life-saving potential and low cost. Even those who do have smoke alarms often take them for granted—forgetting that they need some attention to continue working properly. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) offers the following tips for purchasing and maintaining smoke alarms.
Fire protection, cut your family’s risk in half-
Buy smoke alarms today. Experts report that consumers may cut their risk of dying in a home fire in half simply by having a smoke alarm in their homes. Smoke alarms are available at nearly all hardware, department and discount stores, often for under $20.
Look for the UL mark-
When you purchase a smoke alarm, look for the UL Mark on the product as well as on the packaging. The UL Mark tells you that a representative sample of the smoke alarm has been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) to nationally recognized safety requirements. It also means that UL conducts follow-up evaluations to countercheck that samples of the smoke alarm continue to meet these safety requirements.
Photoelectric and Ionization type alarms-
There are two types of smoke alarms available today: photoelectric and ionization. When smoke enters a photoelectric alarm, light from a pulsating light source in reflected off the smoke particles onto a onto a light sensor, triggering the alarm. When smoke enters an ionization alarm, ionized air molecules attach to the smoke particles and reduce the ionizing current, triggering the alarm. While photoelectric smoke alarms generally respond faster to smoldering smoke conditions and ionization smoke alarms generally respond faster to flaming fire conditions, both types provide adequate protection against fire. Combination smoke alarms featuring both photoelectric and ionization technology are also available at hardware, department and home improvement stores.
There’s safety in numbers-
Install at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the house or residence and outside all sleeping areas. Some fire safety advocates recommend installing smoke alarms inside each sleeping area when sleeping with the door closed.
Test, clean and maintain your smoke alarms-
Working smoke alarms are needed in every home and residence. Test and maintain your smoke alarms at least once a month, or follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms most often fail because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries. Replace batteries at least once a year.