News & FAQ

Improve Home Safety With Fire Alarms

10/9/2015

Valerie Johannsen People & Brand Manager

The best way to protect your family and your home is with properly installed and functional smoke alarms.  More Americans die due to fire than to any other natural disaster. In fact, fire-based deaths are the fifth most common cause of unintentional death in the U.S.  This is especially sad since the majority of these deaths are preventable. Many of them are due to the absence of smoke alarms or the removal of batteries from “annoying” devices.

Full Infographic: Courtesy of NFPA

Install Smoke Alarms

  1. On every floor.  For any home (or building) with multiple floors, a separate smoke alarm needs to be installed.  Otherwise, smoke has to travel from level to level before it is detected.
    Additionally, occupants of rooms on levels without a smoke alarm are unlikely to hear the sound of the alarm.
  2. In Hallways and bedrooms.  Smoke alarms are most effective for alerting people, especially while sleeping, to the presence of a fire.  Place them inside bedrooms or just outside, in the hallway, to maximize the area of detection and how close sleeping family members will be to the alarm.  The closer they are, the more likely they are to wake up.
  3. Don’t forget the basement. Basement fires can be just as dangerous, so install a smoke alarm here as well.  Place the alarm on the ceiling at the base of the stairs leading to your basement.  This ensures that smoke will rise to it and it should be audible from inside the house.
  4. Keep an alarm near your furnace or fireplace. Extreme heat can cause flammable materials to ignite.  Keep a smoke alarm in the same room as your furnace to make sure they alert you to any problems as soon as they occur.  Whenever our technicians conduct a full furnace inspection or maintenance, we also test smoke alarms to make sure they’re working properly.
  5. For pitched ceilings, install smoke alarms between 4 inches and 3 feet away from the peak.  This is to ensure the best chance for detecting smoke while not obscuring the sensor or
    reducing the acoustic potential of the warning alarm.
  6. Don’t install alarms near possible drafts. Windows and doors are both possible drafts which can prevent smoke alarms from registering smoke due to air currents in the home.
  7. Never paint over a smoke alarm. Painting a smoke alarm has the potential to block the sensors, leading to an alarm that tests correctly but fails to detect smoke in the room.

Additional Safety Tips

If at all possible, use an interconnected system.  With an interconnected system of smoke alarms, as soon as one is trigger, every alarm goes off.  Triggering every alarm is far more likely to alert everyone in the home no matter where they are, improving response time and giving occupants a greater chance to escape and call emergency services.

There are actually two different types of smoke alarms, ionization, and photoelectric smoke alarms. They both have benefits and disadvantages.  Our recommendation is to buy a dual-sensor alarm with uses both systems for maximum safety.

An additional issue with using a gas furnace or fireplace for heating is the possibility of carbon monoxide gas.  CO is odorless, invisible, and deadly.  That’s why we recommend using both smoke and CO alarms throughout the house, but especially around furnaces and fireplaces.  As part of our services, we will gladly install and test smoke and CO alarms during the installation or maintenance of your furnace.

Test Smoke Alarms Regularly

If you listen to nothing else, follow this rule. Test your smoke alarms regularly, and replace them every 10 years regardless of if they seem to function.  Replace alarms immediately if they aren’t working and do not ignore the battery life warnings from your alarm.  We especially caution you not to remove the battery simply because the alarm is annoying (replace the battery).

Smoke alarms save lives, make sure yours is working properly!


Call us at 515-COMFORT for more information on furnace maintenance or home fire safety!

And a big thank you for making Service Legends the #1 provider of residential heating and air conditioning in the Des Moines area. A live and friendly customer care representative is ready to take your call 24/7 at 515-COMFORT (515.266.3678).

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