Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Smoke Alarm Facts

How effective are smoke alarms?
Residential fire deaths have decreased steadily as the number of homes with smoke alarms increased. Reports from the National Fire Protection Association indicate that working smoke alarms double the chance of surviving a fire in homes equipped with the recommended number of smoke alarms.
When do I need to replace my smoke alarm?
Smoke alarms do not last forever and units that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced.  Just like any electrical appliance, the circuitry and components of smoke alarms wear out over time. When a smoke alarm reaches 10 years of use, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases substantially and replacing units after 10 years reduces the likelihood of failure.

My smoke alarm units are wired into my electrical system. Do I need to replace them as often as battery-operated alarms?
Yes. Both hard-wired and battery-operated alarms are equally affected by age.
Notethe legislation signed into law on July 1, 2013 applies to battery-only powered alarms.   

How many smoke alarms should I have?
Under the provisions of the law for all new residential units constructed after July 1, 2013, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in each sleeping room, in the hallway or common area outside of sleeping rooms, and in the hallway or common area on each level within a residential dwelling unit, including basements and excluding specified unoccupied spaces such as attics.  Various requirements for smoke alarm type and placement exist for different time periods in Montgomery County. For specific requirements, please see Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements.

Is there anything new I need to know if I am selling my house?
The residential property disclosure form provided to the purchaser of specified single-family residential real property must include whether the smoke alarms (1) are over 10 years old and (2) if battery-operated, are sealed, tamper-resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button and use long-life batteries as required in all Maryland homes by 2018.

Why is the “hush” feature important?
Smoke alarms are available with a “hush” button that can be used to temporarily silence the alarm. This is a convenient way to deal with nuisance alarms, such as those caused by burning toast or opening smoky ovens, without disabling the alarm. The hush button will silence the alarm for several minutes and then automatically reset itself. Smoke alarms with this feature discourage the dangerous practice of removing the battery or disconnecting the power source as a method of dealing with frequent nuisance alarms. If smoke continues to build from an actual fire while the alarm is in hush mode, the smoke will override the silence feature and the smoke alarm will reactivate.

How can I test my alarm?
Every smoke alarm comes with a test button. MCFRS recommends that people test their alarms at least once a month.

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