A Comprehensive Study On Smoke Detectors

House fires are incredibly unpredictable and can sneak up on you in the blink of an eye. There are countless incidents where people die or suffer from injuries because of house fires.

Most of the time people are unaware of the causes of these fires primarily because the only thing that concerns them at that particular moment is surviving from the fire.

Therefore, with the increasing amount of fire-related accidents, everyone should educate themselves about the things that cause house fires.

Causes Of House Fires

Following are the leading causes that contribute to house fires.

Candles

Candles that are people leave without blowing off can cause disaster and have the ability turn the biggest of houses into ashes. To avoid this scary predicament, you should always be sure to blow out the fire before leaving your room.

Another step to take that would make sure that your candles do not cause house fires would be to keep flammable objects like wood, paper, tissue boxes, books, etc. as far away from candles as you can.

Flammable Fluids

Flammable fluids like methylated spirits, petrol, some perfumes and body sprays, and kerosene among many other liquids are significant causes of house fires. Keep these liquids as far away from flames as far as you can and make sure that you tighten the bottles that you use to store these liquids in.

Cooking

A general cause of house fires is cooking. Now, this does not mean that you have to stop cooking altogether. There are a few things to keep in mind and a few precautionary measures that you can take to make sure that you can successfully avoid cooking related house fires.

Majority of house fires happen because people leave their food and forget to watch over it, which causes the food to overcook and eventually catch fire. This fire eventually spreads and if not put out immediately, can decimate your house within minutes.

Burning stoves, barbeque grills, pots, and pans are among the few kitchen objects that people should always keep a watchful eye on to prevent house fires.

Bad Wiring

Faulty wiring is another factor that can cause unexpected house fires. Exposure to electricity is already dangerous in the first place. One could only imagine the amount of turmoil that it can produce if the faulty wiring is not taken care of properly. There are a few steps that can alert you to your house's faulty wiring.

These are the telltale signs that can warn you about dangerous wiring.

  • To make an electrical appliance work, you have to switch another one off
  • Dimming of lights when you use an electrical appliance
  • Fuses tend to blow out on a regular basis.

These are few of the many signs that can warn you about faulty wiring. Inspection from a licensed electrician can come in handy for you to find wiring problems as well.

What Can You Do To Avoid House Fires?

The thought of preventing house fires does not even cross most people's mind. However, it should. The more people start prioritizing preparation and prevention of house fires, the better it is for them. A little bit of homework can take people a long way and ensure their safety.

Following are some steps that can help you in preventing house fires:

Storage Of Combustible And Flammable Elements

Everyone should prioritize storing flammable and combustible items at places that have sufficient ventilation, and there is no presence of flames. You should always prefer to keep your stuff in areas where there aren't any potential heat triggers present.

People often forget to keep things like matches and lighters out of their children's reach. Children are mischievous by nature, and if you do not keep a watchful eye on them, chances of trouble ensuing grow exponentially.

Educating Your Family And Friends About Fire Safety

What better way to prevent fires than educating family and friends about fire safety. The more people will know about fire safety, the more they will help in spreading awareness.

Teaching people about fire hazards and potential causes of fires can do a world of good to the people as they can take the right preventive measures to avoid house fires. You should even focus on the little things that tend to cause fire-related accidents.

An excellent way to teach responsibility to your children would be to give them the duty of fire safety. It will help you to notice their actions and correct them if they are not taking the right steps.

Taking Care Of Outside Causes

You will find it surprising to find out that the inside of your house is not the only place that you should look after, there are factors outside of homes that also come into play in causing fires. Landscaping can help you in preventing fire-related incidents that occur from the outside of your house. A few steps that can help in ensuring that you avoid house fires are the following.

  • Watering the landscape well and maintaining enough space can ensure that you are safe from fire and even if it occurs by any chance, it does not spread as quickly.
  • Make sure that your gutters are always clean and there aren't any dry leaves inside them.
  • Do not avoid cleaning your roof and inspecting it for potential fire hazards.
  • A lot of people live in places that are vulnerable to wildfire. Living in these areas without proper protective measures is a recipe for disaster. Therefore it would be a good idea for you to keep, evacuation boxes, first aid kits, and safety kits at your disposal.
  • Always watch out for fire warnings and keep checking them on a constant basis.

Get Some Smoke Detectors

Buying some smoke detectors and installing them on vital areas of your house can prove to be a life-saving decision. Smoke detectors have alarms that instantly alert you if it detects smoke or fire.

There are a few instructions that you can follow to make sure that you have installed your smoke detectors correctly.

  • Do not forget to install the smoke detectors on the stairways and the kitchen. These are the most crucial places as stairs are an escape route in case a fire starts and the kitchen is the most common place where house fires start.
  • Install the smoke detectors in your bedroom as well as outside your bedroom. Every floor of your house should have the smoke detectors including the basement as well.

What Are Smoke Detectors?

It is a device that can quickly detect fire or smoke.

Smoke is usually an indicator of fire, so whenever a smoke detector senses any smoke, it immediately alerts everyonepresent inside the house.

Smoke detectors alert people of smoke by using an audible alarm system that can wake up the heaviest of sleepers. The loud alarm system is mostly present in household smoke detectors. Commercial smoke detectors operate a bit differently as they usually alert people by issuing a signal to a control panel that has a fire alarm present in it.

Smoke alarms usually have a disc-like shape and are incredibly light. These detectors have a covering of hard plastic and have a diameter of one hundred and fifty millimeters and a thickness of twenty-five millimeters. Some smoke detectors contain sensitive alarms that are useful in detecting smoke in places that prohibit smoking.

Some smoke detectors use household electricity to function while others require a battery. There are some varieties of smoke detectors that even have a backup battery in case the current battery stops working.

This feature is also present in some smoke detectors that use electricity, in case power goes out, the backup battery makes sure that your smoke detector is always up and running. Majority of commercial places and houses use smoke detectors, as they are consistent and immensely cut the risk of life-threatening accidents.

Since electricity and fire are virtually present everywhere, a lot of countries have given out regulations to install smoke alarms in buildings and houses to make their citizens are safe at all times.

Smoke Detector False Alarms

If you haven’t had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night due to the blaring sound of the smoke detector going off, consider yourself extremely lucky. Smoke detectors give false alarms at random occasions too. However, if you take a close look at it, the signals that are seemingly random are not as haphazard as they might seem.

Multiple reasons cause your smoke detector to give false alarms. Following are the causes that might be contributing to the false alarms.

  • Power issues
  • Insects and dust
  • The location of your smoke detector
  • Humidity
  • Odors from strong chemicals
  • Smoke rising from steaming or boiling water
  • Cigarettes

These are among the most common reasons why most smoke detectors start giving false alarms. New and improved smoke detectors keep the false alarms to a minimum with their upgraded sensors.

A wise thing to avoid regular false alarms at your home would be to make sure that you do not install the smoke detectors at places where there are abovementioned factors present that contribute to the false smoke alarms.

Preventing False Alarms

Smoke detectors are useful devices that are extremely valuable in saving lives. However, these alarms can also be agonizingly annoying because of their tendency to give false alarms. False alarms are not only irritating but cause panic and terror as well in some cases. Not only that, imagine this situation.

You are not present at your house, and your smoke detectors alarm starts for some reason and the fire department or the police arrive at your place only to find out that it was a false alarm, wouldn't it be embarrassing? Not only that, people who might be in real need of help would not be getting immediate help because of this.

These are some tips that you can follow that can help in preventing false alarms.

  • Make sure that you clean your smoke detector on a regular basis.
  • Make sure that you do not have a faulty electrical connection. If your smoke alarms operate through electricity, the wiring and current supply should be at an optimum level.
  • Install the smoke detectors in dry areas
  • Test your smoke detectors regularly.
  • If your smoke detector has an alarm code, give it to everyone in the house so that they can avoid false alarms immediately
  • Avoid installing your smoke alarm at places where there is a lot of mist and steam.
  • Buy wireless alarms; they are the easiest to install and can be taken off at any time.
  • Monitoring the quality of the indoor air can be an excellent option to help reduce the risk of false alarms.
  • Try to install the fire alarms away from places where you keep your oven and furnace.
  • Always check for insects inside your alarm. Insects are one of the leading causes of false alarms, so be sure that your smoke alarm is free of insects.

Types Of Smoke Detectors

There are several different types of smoke detectors. All of these are unique in their way. 

Ionization Smoke Detector

The ionization smoke detector is among the most common smoke alarms available in the market. They are the quickest and most efficient at sensing out smoke and fires. This alarm uses a small quantity of radioactive material to ionize the air present inside the sensing chamber of the smoke detector. 

The ionization smoke detector makes use of ions which are essentially particles that charge electrically to sense and detect the smoke present in the air. The conductivity in the chamber immediately lowers as soon as particles of smoke start entering the area. When the conductivity reduces to a certain level, the alarm goes off.

Photoelectric Smoke Detector

The photoelectric smoke detector is the second type of smoke detector and makes use of a light beam to detect any presence of smoke in the air. According to a research, the photoelectric smoke detectors are more useful for sensing fires that ignite from smoldering (smoking or burning without any flames).

Whenever smoldering fires occur, there are dangerous gases that fill the home before an eruption takes place. The photoelectric smoke detector detects these gases, and the alarm immediately goes off. The light present inside the sensing chamber is responsible for setting the alarm off whenever particles of smoke enter inside the walls of the gas chamber.

Interconnected Smoke Detectors

The truth is that interconnected smoke alarms are infinitely safer than regular standalone smoke alarms. It will only take one interconnected smoke alarm to detect and alarm every one present in the house about the impending fire through the other interlinked alarms.

The feature that makes these alarms miles better than standalone ones is the fact that they warn you about the danger much sooner than the standalone ones. For instance, you are in the basement of your house the interconnected smoke alarm will immediately notify you about the fire inside your home even though it isn't present in the basement.

Standalone smoke detectors, on the other hand, will only alarm you if you are present near it. Most new homes and buildings in this day and age use interconnected smoke alarms because of their safety and efficiency.

Hearing Impaired Smoke Detectors

You do not need to worry if you are hearing impaired as there are smoke alarms present that are especially for people who have this unfortunate disadvantage.

These smoke detectors for people who are hard of hearing or deaf use different techniques to alert the people about the fire in their houses.

Some of the techniques these smoke alarms use are the following.

  • Bright strobe lights to wake the person and alarm them from danger
  • Some alarms have connectivity to pillows and beds of old people, as soon as the detector senses smoke, the mattress and pillow start shaking and alert the old sleepers immediately.
  • Smoke alarms with vibration pads are also available and alarm the people by vibrating the appliance that stores the vibrating pads.

How Long Do Smoke Detectors Last?

Due to their worldwide popularity, smoke detectors are an everyday part of most people's households. But unfortunately, most people leave these smoke detectors as afterthoughts as soon as they are done buying and installing them. Because these detectors are forgotten and left as afterthoughts, they stop working because people don't maintain or look after them. 

Most high-quality smoke detectors last for about eight to ten years. But you should not wait for so long to check them or replace them.

Monthly maintenance and cleaning are necessary to ensure that your smoke detector has the longevity of lasting the number of time producers design it for when making the product. There are a few tips that can help you in maintaining your smoke detectors.

These tips are the following:

  • Checking for faults in your alarm once every three to four months
  • Installation of newer batteries after the end of every year,
  • Replace your smoke detectors batteries if it starts to make a chirping sound
  • Use a vacuum to clean your smoke detector without removing the plastic cover.

Disposing Of Smoke Detectors

There are two categories of smoke detectors. Ionization smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors. Eliminating the photoelectric smoke detectors is pretty easy as you can remove the batteries and put them in the trash bin. Disposing ionization smoke detectors, however, is slightly different.

There is a radioactive isotope present inside the ionization smoke detector which is safe when it is inside the chamber of the sensor. But as soon as it comes out and exposes, it becomes dangerous.

You shouldn’t ever try to dismantle the smoke detectors by yourself as you can risk exposing yourself to the radioactive isotopes. Some waste disposal centers take ionization smoke detectors.

Another thing you can do is return the smoke detector to its manufacturer. Make sure that you do not disassemble the device before returning as most manufacturers prefer to get their devices back intact.

How Many Smoke Detectors Do You Need?

Well, the amount of smoke detectors that you may need largely depends on the size and capacity of your house. But it is advisable that you get more than one smoke detector in your home. Because to be quite frank one smoke detector just would not be sufficient enough.

Most safety experts recommend that you install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your house. Having more than one detector per level would be more than welcome and will sense the smoke even more quickly.

With that, you should always install the smoke detectors at optimal places. Places where there is the least amount of room for false alarms and where they are audible enough for everyone to be able to hear.

Conclusion

This article discusses smoke detectors, its uses and different types of smoke detectors. People should not miss out on these as they come in handy in alerting you whenever there is a fire on the rise. Smoke detectors are easy to install. Investing your money in buying smoke detectors for your house is a small price to pay for the safety of you and your family’s lives.

It was a comprehensive guide providing you the necessary knowledge needed for smoke detectors. We have provided you with the perfect buying guide that will help you in choosing the smoke detector that would best suit your needs.