Fire prevention advice: Working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are a must for every home

The message is well repeated: “Change your clock, change your batteries.”

Many people know to change their smoke alarm batteries twice a year when the time changes, but how many know where they should be located within a home? Fayetteville Fire Department Division Chief Keith Harris says too many homes fall short of the recommend numbers and locations to provide maximum safety.

“Every home should have smoke alarms on each level and inside each bedroom,” Harris said. “You want to put them about a foot below the ceiling, because smoke rises and collects up there. If detectors are much lower, they may take longer to activate and alert occupants of fire danger.”

Harris also said to keep smoke alarms at least 10 feet away from cooking surfaces if possible to reduce the frequency of false alarms.

Other important places to install smoke alarms include near fireplaces, in stairways and in the basement.

Mount your smoke detectors within 12 inches of where the wall and ceiling meet. Do not install smoke detectors near exterior doors, windows, air-conditioning or heating ducts, since air drafts could interrupt the flow of smoke needed to activate the alarm. Never paint over smoke alarms, as it can render them ineffective.

Carbon monoxide detection

“If residents have any kind of gas appliances, we recommend Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors be installed in the home,” Harris said. “And they should test those and replace the batteries on those as well.”

More fire safety advice

Harris explains that many modern homes in the area are built with increasing amounts of synthetic materials, some of which can be more flammable, which can decrease the amount of time families have to escape during a fire. However, there are ways to mitigate the risk, he says.

“Make sure you close your bedroom door at night when you go to sleep,” Harris said. “This added layer of protection can give you and your family members a little extra time to escape.”

Harris also noted it is good for families to obtain and be familiar with using fire extinguishers. He noted as well that there are different types of extinquishers that are specialized to be most effective in different circumstances.

• Class A extinguishers are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these types of extinguishers indicates the amount of water it holds and the amount of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (green triangle)

• Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for class B extinguishers indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire it can extinguish. Geometric symbol (red square)

• Class C fires involve electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires – the risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive. Geometric symbol (blue circle)

• Class D fire extinguishers are commonly found in a chemical laboratory. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating, nor are they given a multi-purpose rating – they are designed for class D fires only. Geometric symbol (Yellow Decagon)

• Class K fire extinguishers are for fires that involve cooking oils, trans-fats, or fats in cooking appliances and are typically found in restaurant and cafeteria kitchens. Geometric symbol (black hexagon)

Nov 20, 2018 9:08 am |