Smoke detectors are devices that are mounted on the wall or ceiling and automatically sound a warning when they sense smoke or other products of combustion. When people are warned early enough about a fire, they can escape before it spreads. Prices start at about $7.
Every year thousands of people die from fires in the home. Fire kills an estimated 4,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 people are seriously injured by fire each year. Property damage from fire costs us at least $11.2 billion yearly. Most fire victims feel that fire would “never happen to them.”
Although we like to feel safe at home, about two-thirds of our nation’s fire deaths happen in the person’s own home. Our home is where we feel the safest and yet it is the place where we are at the greatest risk and where we must take the most precautions. Most deaths occur from inhaling smoke or poisonous gases, not from the flames.
Most fatal fires occur in residential buildings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are more likely to be asleep. More than 90 percent of fire deaths in buildings occur in residential dwellings.
A John Hopkins University study, which was funded by the United States Fire Administration, found that 75 percent of residential fire deaths and 84 percent of residential fire injuries could have been prevented by smoke detectors.
The Hastings Fire Department recommends that every home have a smoke detector outside of each sleeping area as well as one in each room used for sleeping. In addition, a smoke detector should be placed on each level of your home, including your basement.
Keeping smoke detectors in good condition is easy. Test your smoke detector once a month and replace the battery once a year. If you have children, get them involved in this project. Most models will make a chirping or beeping sound when the battery is losing its charge. Occasionally vacuum the dust away from the cover of your smoke detector and never paint a smoke detector as it will hamper its function.
The average life expectancy of a smoke detector is 10 years. After 10 years of age, they may loose their sensitivity. An easy practice is to write on the inside cover with a permanent marker the date you purchased your detector. This way, several years from now, you can remember how old it is.
If you’re looking for a novel gift for somebody, consider giving them a smoke detector. It’s an interesting gift that can save lives and it shows that you care.