When I was in high school my cousin’s house burned down. His parents were avid art collectors and we sat on the street watching the entire house at all its beautiful art go up in flames. My cousins and my aunt and uncle were saved because they ran out of the house when their ceiling unit fire alarm went off. Thank goodness it was properly installed and maintained.
After hearing so many sad stories of people getting burned we thought doing a short checklist on how to properly maintain smoke alarms would be a good idea. Here are 3 easy steps for smoke alarm safety to help make sure that your in-home smoke alarms are ready to save your family if a fire does break out.
Step 1 – Proper installation
Make sure the smoke alarm is properly and securely fastened to either the ceiling or wall. Examine the smoke alarm to make sure it has no physical damage. Look at the ventilation holes on the alarm itself. Make sure there is no grease or dirt accumulated in those holes.
Step 2 – Proper Power & Function
Determine exactly the type of power your fire alarm needs. Most consumer fire alarms are battery-powered. You’re going to have to get the proper type of batteries and you will need to keep a set of spares on hand. Make sure to buy long-life batteries and recognize they will last approximately one year. Before installing the batteries look at the battery connectors and make sure they are free of corrosion or other objects. Any corrosion will reduce the effectiveness of the fire alarm. Some commercial fire alarms use AC power. You should consider professional installers to properly secure your unit with safe and secure power to your fire alarm unit.
Step 3 – Test & Test Again
Once your fire alarm has proper power you will need to test its effectiveness. Usually, fire alarms have on the top of the unit itself a test button. This is the easiest way to make sure the fire alarm has power and that the internal alarm will actually sound in a way that you will observe it. Most units have a piercing siren-type alarm. You will want to test your unit and make sure you understand the sound and that your unit makes the sound, and that the sound is loud enough that you’ll hear it. However, don’t stop by testing your unit with only the “test” button. Get an incense stick, a small piece of paper, or a cotton string. Use an ashtray or a bowl that is non-flammable and light the paper on fire. Use the smoke from the paper to determine whether your fire alarm unit will actually sound when it is stimulated by smoke. This is the best and most important test.
Once your fire alarm is installed, powered, and working properly you can sleep easy at night. But don’t stop there. Make sure you schedule the proper maintenance for your unit. Use whatever calendaring system you have and put down that in one year you will not only test your unit but re-power it if you have better units as well. You will need to vacuum your unit at its annual check-up. Make sure that the vent holes are not clogged and that the unit is working properly.
Read more from the South Florida personal injury lawyers at the LaBovick Law Group.