Begin 2012 with Smoke Alarm Safety!
Recently several fires have destroyed the homes of residents in my community and in the past I’ve had friends affected by smoldering fires caused by faulty, defective appliances. It’s pretty scary to think of going to bed and waking up to your fire alarm going off or worse, not at all, as in the case of deadly house fire that killed 5 on Christmas Eve when the fire began outside from burning embers in the trash.
Growing up I learned: stop, drop, and roll, plan an escape, and making sure we had working smoke alarms. Technology has really changed so I researched on Consumer Reports, Consumer Search and other review sources online to find the best smoke alarm and explosive gas/CO monitor. After meeting with my local Fire Inspector Dave Harley at my work late last year I learned that I need one alarm in each sleeping area (even if it’s not a “bedroom”) and one near the sleeping area (e.g. the hallway) and the type of alarm I want may be different in each area. Online I found a talking alarm that alerted “fire” to young children or the blind, an alarm with flashing strobe lights for the deaf or hard sleeper, an alarm I could mute with the tv remote for high vaulted ceilings, even CO monitors for warnings about leaks from my natural gas appliances. Before buying any of these I highly recommend calling your fire inspector and asking for advice and maybe a meeting on where to place, what type is best for your home (and abilities to change the battery!), and many localities have free alarms for those who can’t afford one.
The last time I bought a smoke alarm I went to my closest hardware store Sutherland’s and bought a smoke alarm off the shelf based on comparing the others next to it. I was disappointed that Home Depot nor Menard’s had the model in stock or online. I know, not the smartest, but it turns out I have great taste – the First Alert SA302CN – and I can honestly brag about it…dual sensors (photoelectric and ionization sensors) to quickly detect flaming and smoldering fires, a very loud 85-decibel alarm, and a 10-year warranty. The special feature is that you can use your remote control to mute false alarms (like frying bacon) & to conduct your weekly test. I have high vaulted ceilings and being able to shut it up by using the remote control “MUTE” button is a lifesaver in the middle of the night, during a blizzard, when the battery is dying. Hmmm…there are lots of applications you’re thinking this technology would come in handy for too? Me too. haha. I have this model installed at the entry of the hallway and one in each bedroom. Be mindful of where you locate this model – holding the volume or the channel buttons will set off the smoke alarm each time!
I considered several other types like wireless technology (hardwired is required for all homes built after 1993) for my living room and front entry area as it works off the medical radio frequency but finally settled on the Kidde Pi9000 and the Kidde HD135 Heat Alarm for the kitchen (installed farthest area from the stove) that you can interconnect with other alarms in the house.
None of the alarms were difficult to install, but to reach the ceiling generally you must have a ladder, drill (for convenience), and screwdriver. Even with my two small children trying to climb the ladder after me, I was able to install each in a few minutes.