Studies show that more than 60% of deadly U.S. fires occur in homes without smoke detectors or those that have malfunctioning alarms. In addition, the National Safety Council reports that nearly 300 people die each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning – the second leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States. More than 20,000 people visit the emergency room, and at least 4,000 others are hospitalized yearly with carbon monoxide poisoning.
One of the best ways to protect your home and family is by installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Like everything in your home, proper installation and maintenance are necessary to ensure they remain in good working order.
There should be a working smoke detector in each bedroom or sleeping area and on each level of your home. Enclosed areas like garages and outdoor sheds should also have an operational smoke detector. Smoke detectors generally last for around ten years before needing to be replaced but should be tested monthly.
Some smoke detectors are hardwired into your home’s power grid but will also have battery backup power in case of an electrical power outage. It is a good practice to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year.
To function correctly, keep your smoke detectors clean and dust-free. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When replacing the batteries, clean the inside of the detector by using your vacuum and wand attachment or compressed air to blow away the dust.
Interconnected smoke alarms increase safety. If your smoke detectors have this added safety feature, when one smoke detector goes off, it will make all of your smoke detectors go off, alerting your entire household of a potential fire.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Since most people don’t know CO is present until it’s too late, detectors are necessary. Most state laws require that CO detectors are installed within 10 feet of each bedroom. It’s also a good idea to install sensors in basements and garages.
Some of the most common appliances or systems within a property can release carbon monoxide gasses, including:
- Kitchen range
- Clothes dryer
- Water heater
- Gas or wood fireplaces
- Space heaters
- Car exhaust
- Charcoal grills
- Clogged chimneys or flues
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” People who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before they experience symptoms.
Having carbon monoxide detectors in your home will help protect you and your family by alerting you when a carbon monoxide leak is detected, allowing you to evacuate quickly. The CDC recommends having your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends carbon monoxide detectors be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor. Carbon monoxide detectors can also be installed on ceilings. Carbon monoxide detectors work best when they are located away from heat sources, dust, humidity, and extreme temperatures. Keep sensors out of reach of children and away from pets. Each level of your home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector.
There are a variety of carbon monoxide detectors to choose from, and most will last between five to ten years. They all have a test button for routine testing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing or testing your detector.
Other Important Considerations
Consider investing in portable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Hotels, rental homes, and college dorm rooms may not have functioning detectors. The added protection they offer can prevent a tragedy while you and your family are away from home.
For added safety, have your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors “hard-wired” by a licensed electrician. Hardwired sensors will operate if your batteries have expired or died. In addition, it’s vital to ensure your entire electrical system is working correctly. Outdated wiring, faulty appliances, and other electrical problems are common causes of residential fires. An expert electrician can thoroughly evaluate your home’s electrical system and recommend solutions to improve your home’s overall safety.
Call a Local Trusted Electrician
When you need electrical work for your home or business, call Pallardy Electric. We’ve been serving St. Charles and St. Louis counties since 2001. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured for your safety and protection. Call us at (636) 202-1794 to schedule a free estimate.