While firefighters get the adrenalin pumping and get a lot of satisfaction from fighting fires, we would really rather prevent fires from happening at all. Many of the fires that we fight could have been prevented if someone had just been a little more careful. There are many causes of fire, but some of the most common are careless cooking, electric and kerosene heaters placed too close to combustible objects, careless cigarette smoking, and children playing with fire.
There are plenty of web sites with fire prevention and fire safety information, so we've included links to some of them here. Take a look at them to get good ideas on preventing fires in your home, but don't leave our page without checking out our information on smoke detectors below.
Sites just for kids!
The inexpensive smoke detector is the greatest insurance available for protecting lives from fire. A properly installed and operational smoke detector is the ONLY reliable way to ensure that you and your family will awake in time to escape a nightime fire. Don't count on the family pet or your nose to wake you. Most likely, you and Rover will succumb to deadly gases such as carbon monoxide long before the fire reaches you. When you can buy smoke detectors for less than $10.00, and even maybe get one for free, why not use them?
In order to work properly, detectors must be properly installed. Do not put smoke detectors in the kitchen. Cooking odors and the smoke from the burnt pot roast will trigger false alarms, and most likely you'll unplug the detector. The most important location for smoke detectors is outside sleeping areas. Generally, a detector should be located in the hallway outside bedrooms. If any bedroom door is usually closed at night, a detector should be placed inside that bedroom as well. For maximum protection, detectors should be on each level of a multi-floor house and in any other area that is isolated by location or closed doors. Again, smoke detectors are cheap, so why not use several?
Detectors are usually installed on ceilings, but may also be placed on upper wall surfaces. Do not place detectors in corners or where the ceiling and walls meet. Dead air spots may occur in these areas and prevent smoke from reaching the detectors soon enough. Also, in a mobile home or poorly insulated house do not install a detector on the ceiling or an outside wall. Cool air against the ceiling or wall may keep the smoke away. Instead, mount the detector near the top of a wall that is heated on both sides.
Detectors should not be placed near air ducts or other openings that might alter the air flow. Your local fire department should be able to provide help with locating detectors. Some detectors now have special features such as lights, but they cost more. You are probably better off spending the extra money on more detectors rather than on the special features.
Detectors do require a little maintenance. The most important is regular battery replacement. Change the battery twice a year, at Christmas and the Fourth of July, or when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. If you start hearing a chirping sound from a detector, it probably needs a new battery immediately! Never paint a smoke detector or cover it with anything. Your detector may have a test button. The button simply checks the electronics, it does not ensure that the detector will actually detect smoke! Light a candle, then blow it out and let the smoke drift into the detector. It should sound until the smoke is removed.
Many mobile homes and some houses now have smoke detectors installed which are wired into the home electrical system. Make sure that the detectors have backup batteries. You should also install at least a couple of battery-powered detectors as well, just in case an electrical problem shuts down the system, and your detectors, and then starts a fire. You can't be too careful, and in this case, careful is inexpensive.