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Fire Prevention Week: The Importance of Smoke Alarms

This year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has focused their Fire Prevention Week on smoke alarm safety. This is the third year in a row that they have emphasized the importance of smoke alarms in keeping households safe from fire. According to their data, the public has many misconceptions about them, which could easily put your family at risk. In addition to these problems, it has recently come to the attention of fire prevention experts that many children sleep through smoke alarms – even alarms installed in their bedrooms.

Universal Home Experts understands the importance of smoke alarms, which we have been installing and replacing for our Houston neighbors for over 20 years. Along with our electrical safety inspections, we have tried to help minimize the risk for fires and fire casualties as long as we have been in business. We have collected some vital information from the NFPA and other experts to help educate households on smoke alarm safety facts. Read over our notes carefully to make sure that your home and family are prepared for a fire emergency.

U.S. Smoke Alarm Facts

  • All smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. To find the age of an alarm, look at the date of the manufacturer on the back.
  • Three-quarters of all U.S. homes have at least one working smoke alarm. The key word here is working as many homes have multiple alarms that aren’t operational because of a dead battery or faulty wire.
  • In 23% of residential fire deaths, smoke alarms are present but do not sound. In half of these instances, the batteries were removed or wires disconnected. This generally happens when an alarm is activated by smoke from a non-emergency and the homeowner forgets to reconnect the mechanism.
  • Smoke alarm designs are either battery-operated or hardwired. The hardwired alarms can be connected to each other, which is the recommended alarm installation of the NFPA.
  • Most residential alarms are battery operated – as many of the designs are less expensive than their wired counterparts.
  • In fires large enough to activate a smoke alarm, 91% of the hardwired alarms operated correctly while only 75% of the battery-operated alarms operated correctly.
  • Smoke alarms work in two different technologies; ionization, which is more responsive to flaming fires and photoelectric, which is more responsive to smoldering fires. There are also designs that are a combination of the two.
  • Typical smoke alarms are ineffective with 2 out of 3 children (ages 1 -15) as they sleep much deeper than adults.
  • 96% of sleeping children are more responsive to voices of their parents in emergencies. Parents (of children up to 15 years of age) are a more effective alarm than smoke alarms.
  • Vocal smoke alarms (that contain a recording of a parent’s voice warning of danger) might be more effective in waking children in a fire emergency.

Vocal Smoke Alarms

Escape Plan

  • According to the NFPA, only one-third of homes in the U.S. have developed and practiced a fire escape plan.
  • Almost three-quarters of families in the U.S. have a fire emergency plan, but half of those of never practiced it.
  • Practice a fire safety plan at least twice a year, with a version of the escape route printed out and posted on the wall of the kid’s room.

Remember that Universal can help with all of your smoke alarm needs. Keep your home and family safe with complete installation, replacement, and service of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Call us today at (713) 364-0226 to schedule an appointment.