Ask Your Electrical Company about Hard-Wired Smoke Detectors
The National Fire Protection Association’s statistics show that there were over 1.3million fires reported in the US in 2012. Of these, just under half a million were structure fires which caused just under 2,500 deaths, over 14,500 injuries and nearly $10 billion in damage to property. Almost two thirds of deaths in home fires occurred where there was no working smoke detector. Your electrical company can help you to make your home safer by installing detectors in all the appropriate locations.
While having a working smoke alarm cannot guarantee your family’s safety, it will greatly increase their chances of escaping a home fire with minor or no injuries. The NFPA says that having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of death by 50%. Many homes have battery powered smoke detectors but it is all too easy not to bother checking or replacing the batteries. Some people remove them if the alarm is falsely activated by cooking or some other innocent activity, or even remove then for use elsewhere and forget to replace them.
A much better solution than relying on battery power is to have smoke detectors hard-wired directly into your homes electricity supply. This has the advantage that all the smoke detectors can be connected with each other, so wherever a fire starts all the detectors will sound the alarm. If a fire starts in a little used area of the house, such as the basement or garage, you will gain an extra few minutes to evacuate before the fire spreads and that can make the difference between injury and safety, and enable you to call the fire department sooner, so minimizing any damage to your property. In case of a power outage, hard-wired smoke detectors are also fitted with batteries as a back up. These should still be tested and replaced occasionally, at least once a year, to ensure they are in good working order.
There are two commonly recognized technologies for smoke detection: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization detectors generally work better at sounding the alarm for fast spreading flaming fires of easily combustible materials, such as wood or paper, while photoelectric detectors are more effective in cases of smoldering fires, such as those caused by hot ashes or cigarette ends dropped onto upholstery. Combination detectors are available which work on both principles, however, the current evidence is that, for most situations, either technology is sufficiently effective to save lives, as long as the detectors are well positioned within the home.
Ideally, you should have a detector installed in every bedroom and in hallways outside sleeping areas, and at least one detector on every level of your home. If you are worried about false alarms caused by cooking, it may be that your detector is positioned too near to your cooker. Detectors should be positioned at least 10 feet away from a cooker. If that is not possible due to lack of space, it is possibler to install a smoke detector with a hush feature which allows it to be temporarily silenced.
Installing hard-wired smoke detectors is a job that needs to be undertaken by a professional licensed electrician. Because it involves running additional circuits from your control panel, it is not a suitable task for DIY. You don’t want to create any additional fire risks when you are trying to eliminate them. Your local electrical company can advise you on the best positions for detectors in your home and install them safely, in accordance with the relevant code, and make your home much safer from fire.