Fire & Smoke Alarms – Saving your Pets

Protecting your family is of the utmost importance to you.  You’ve taken great care in building your home with the most solid materials.  Yet accidents can still happen.

Are you prepared in the event a fire were to break out?  What precautions do you have in place to alert your family to the presence of a fire in your home?

If you’re like most families, you’ve experienced the annoyance of an insistently shrieking fire alarm when your teenager has burnt a piece of toast or too much steam escapes the bathroom after a hot shower.  But the bottom line is a smoke detector has the ability to save your family.  It is your first line of defense against a fire.

Why are smoke detectors so important?

The Fire Prevention Canada website states that on any given week in Canada, fires claim the lives of 8 Canadians.  73 percent of all fire-related fatalities are due to house fires.  Only 4 percent of homes report failure to install fire alarms.  The incidence of fire-related death increases doubly when homeowners choose not to employ the use of smoke detectors in the home. The statistics are staggering.  Every family needs a comprehensive home safety plan, and one of the best tools to assist with this is a smoke detector.

Smoke inhalation accounts for 50-80 percent of all fire- related deaths.  Smoke is responsible for a number of medical problems which most often lead to death in victims.

Among the problems victims of smoke inhalation experience are:

  • Respiratory distress from burns to the lungs
  • Lung poisoning from the carcinogens present in smoke
  • Irritation of the lungs due to presence of carbon monoxide
  • Thermal damage to the skin, sensitive tissue, and lungs

Oxygen therapy is the primary treatment from those suffering from smoke inhalation symptoms.  However, if the exposure was prolonged, most victims do not survive treatment.

What does this mean?

It means that if smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death for those affected by fire-related emergencies, having adequate and reliable smoke detectors installed in critical places throughout your home is not a luxury.  It is an absolute necessity.  Simply put, smoke detectors save lives.

Choosing the Right Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors come in a variety of price points and styles.  It is important to understand the features of each model and to choose the alarm that you feel is the best fit for your home.

Bear in mind that smoke detectors need to be placed in multiple strategic locations throughout your home in order to provide the best protection.  One centrally located smoke alarm is not sufficient to detect the presence of smoke in all areas of your home.

It all starts with understanding the different types of smoke detectors and how they work.

Smoke detectors make use of two different processes to detect smoke.  They are:

  • Ionization
  • Photoelectricity

Alarms which make use of ionization are able to detect the presence of hazardous particles much more quickly than smoke detectors which make use of photoelectricity alone.  Ionization-based smoke alarms work by placing a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically sensitive plates.  This allows for air flow to be ionized and to flow smoothly.  When smoke is present, it disturbs the proper flow of air and causes the alarm to sound.  This type of smoke alarm is particularly sensitive to the flames of a fire, and its early detection can allow families to flee the home before the overwhelming presence of smoke puts them at greater risk of death.

Photoelectric smoke detectors are the expert choice for fires that are smoldering rather than emitting large flames.  They work through the use of sensors and light sources.  When smoke enters the sensory chamber, the light sensor is illuminated which causes the alarm to sound.  

Since homeowners cannot predict housefires let alone what type of fire will occur, it is best to choose smoke detectors that make use of both technologies.  This will offer a dual layer of protection for your family.

Top Smoke Detector Tips for Ultimate Home Protection

You’ve chosen your smoke detectors and installed them according to the manufacturer’s directions.  Now what?

Here are some tips to help provide the ultimate in fire safety for your home and family.

  • Always install smoke detectors on each floor of your home. Hallways, inside bedrooms, and outside bedroom doors are also areas that need extra protection.
  • Replace your smoke alarms frequently. Recent research shows that smoke alarms lose their efficacy after ten years.  If in doubt as to the age of your smoke detectors, it is time for an update!  Better safe than sorry.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your smoke detector to conduct routine tests.
  • Check and replace your smoke alarm’s batteries as often as needed. Even if your smoke detector is hardwired into your home, make certain your backup batteries are still up to the task if needed.
  • Keep your smoked detector free from dust and debris which could interfere with important sensors.
  • Never “disarm” your smoke alarm.
  • Always put brand new batteries into your smoke alarm. Batteries used for other purposes will not be as effective nor have as long a battery life which may provide you with a false sense of security.
  • Craft a fire safety plan for your family and ensure that each family member knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

It is the hope of every family to never need their smoke detectors.  But with 8 Canadians dying weekly of fire-related injuries, it is critical that we be prepared.  Fire emergencies can befall any family at any time.  Smoke detectors can give you peace of mind that should a housefire start in your home that you have early detection to help keep your family safe.