Preventing Fires With Smoke Alarms and Fire Extinguishers: Check Your Fire Safety Equipment Every Month
In the event of a fire, you may only have two minutes to safely evacuate before smoke and flames become overwhelming. Fire prevention begins with installing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Learn how to choose the right fire safety equipment to keep your family safe.
Choosing A Smoke Alarm
Although smoke alarms and smoke detectors may sound identical, they are actually different types of smoke sensing devices. A smoke alarm is a single unit that creates an audible alert when it senses smoke. A smoke detector is a smoke sensing unit that is part of a larger fire detection system.
Smoke alarms are typically battery powered and only one unit will go off if it senses smoke. Smoke detectors are hard-wired and all units will go off if any unit senses smoke. While a smoke detection system is best, smoke alarms are fine as long as they are properly maintained.
There are two types of smoke alarms and we recommend that you install at least one of each. Photoelectric alarms sense smoldering fires, which produce a large amount of smoke and lower levels of flames. Ionization alarms sense fast flame fires, which have more intense flames and lower levels of smoke.
Combination alarms are also available, which include both types of sensors. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you install both photoelectric and ionization alarms or a combination alarm on each level of your home.
Choosing A Fire Extinguisher
We recommend a multipurpose or ABC fire extinguisher that is effective on all types of fires. It should be large enough to put out a small fire, but light enough that any adult in your home can lift and operate it. Extinguishers come in both rechargeable and disposable models.
Rechargeable extinguishers are more expensive, but the refill charges are often cheaper than disposable models. Disposable extinguishers are less expensive and intended for use only once. While there are other differences between them, you can choose any model that fits your budget as long as it is approved by an independent testing laboratory.
After purchasing an extinguisher, you should read the instructions for your fire extinguisher thoroughly and review on a regular basis. You may consider attending a hands-on fire extinguisher training class at your local fire department or fire equipment distributor.
Using Fire Extinguishers
Only use portable fire extinguishers when a fire is in a confined space, it is not spreading, and the area is not filling with smoke. Leave a clear path to an exit so you can safely escape should the fire get out of control. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, then pull the pin.
Point the nozzle at the base of the fire and squeeze the lever evenly to maintain a consistent spray. Wave the nozzle side to side across the fire until there are no signs of fire. Call 911 or the fire department immediately if you cannot put out the fire.
Smoke Alarm and Fire Extinguisher Maintenance Checklist
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month
- Replace smoke alarm batteries every six months
- Replace smoke alarms every ten years
- Ensure each fire extinguisher is easily accessible and unobstructed at all times
- Check that the locking pin and tamper seal are intact and inspect the pressure gauge or lift the unit to ensure it is still full every month
- Replace or refill fire extinguishers as recommended by the manufacturer
- Contact your local fire department for instructions on disposing of expired or empty extinguishers
Professional Fire Damage and Smoke and Soot Restoration Services
No matter how big or small, a fire is a very stressful event. Fire damage is destructive if not cleaned quickly. Due to the acidic nature of soot, it can quickly stain and even corrode. Prolonged exposure increases the chances of more severe damage.
Restoration Local is the nation’s largest network of fire damage restoration professionals. Find a local fire damage cleanup company near you now. For emergencies, call 1-888-443-3110 now to schedule a free estimate for smoke damage or soot damage restoration.
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