Smoke Alarms

 

Did you know?

Most fire deaths occur in homes where there are no working smoke alarms.

Remember – Only a working smoke alarm can save your life!

Smoke detectors can provide you with an early warning so you may escape a fire before it can reach you!

They may be the only thing standing between your escape from a fire, or your being overcome by deadly gases in the smoke in the smoke.

Once you have your smoke detector you should make sure you test and clean them regularly.

What do I do if my smoke alarm is beeping?

Firstly, never just remove the batteries from your smoke alarm.  Leading smoke alarm manufacturer Kidde has the following information:

Loud continuous alarming

When the smoke alarm detects combustible products and goes into alarm mode, the pulsating alarm will continue until the air has cleared. For procedures on what to do when your alarm is in active alarm mode, go to What to do When Your Smoke Alarm Sounds.

If a false alarm is activated, one of the following may be the reason:

  • The battery may be loose or installed improperly
  • The smoke alarm sensing chamber may be dirty
  • Humidity, steam, or other environmental factors
  • An electrical condition may be causing power to the unit to be interrupted
  • The alarm may have reached its end of life

First make sure it isn’t a real alarm, and then learn how to silence a nuisance or false alarm

Consistent chirping

If a smoke alarm is chirping consistently, one of the following may be the reason:

  • The smoke alarm’s battery may need to be replaced. An alarm will chirp every 30 to 60 seconds for a minimum of seven days.
  • The smoke alarm may be malfunctioning. An alarm will chirp between flashes of the red LED light.
  • The Hush feature may be activated. An alarm will chirp every 30 to 40 seconds for approximately seven minutes while the Hush feature is activated.
  • The smoke alarm may have reached its end of life (sealed battery models only). An alarm will chirp every 30 seconds to indicate it is time to replace the alarm.
  • There may be interference from a similar system nearby (wireless alarms only).

For ways to troubleshoot the problem, go to What are the causes for consistent chirping?

Intermittent chirping (without a regular pattern)

If a smoke alarm is chirping intermittently, one of the following may be the reason:

  • The battery may be loose or installed improperly
  • The smoke alarm sensing chamber may be dirty
  • Humidity, steam, or other environmental factors
  • An electrical condition may be causing power to the unit to be interrupted
  • The alarm may have reached its end of life

For ways to troubleshoot the problem, go to What causes intermittent beeping or chirping?

More information on smoke alarms: Visit the NFPA’s website here.

Smoke Alarm/CO Alarm Recycling Program

Ok so you have replaced your smoke and CO alarms. Great! But now what do you do with the old one? Glad you asked!

AlarmRecycle is a recycling program for used or expired smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Since October 1, 2011, BC residents have been able to drop off their smoke and CO alarms for recycling at AlarmRecycle drop-off locations across BC.

Visit their website here for more information and a list of locations where you can drop off your used alarm. Note that drop off centres only accept a maximum of 40 units.

For more information on AlarmRecycle, please email BCalarms@productcare.org or call 604-592-2972 ext. 233

Three Critical Points

Three critical points to surviving a home fire:

  1. Install smoke alarms and make sure they are working.
  2. Plan an escape route.
  3. Do a home, fire safety walkthrough.

Statistics point to a 50% reduction in fire fatalities since the introduction of smoke alarms into the home. The vast majority of fatal fires (60%) occur in homes without smoke alarms. And a majority of those deaths that occur in homes with smoke alarms are a result of dead or missing batteries. In spite of recent media coverage about children sleeping through them, smoke alarms and home escape planning are still a vital part of survival from fire. Smoke alarms have been and still are the cornerstone of fire safety technology in the home.

However, the recent news events remind us of the need to continue research in fire safety and seek to improve on successful technologies such as smoke alarms.

What is imperative at the moment is for our citizens to understand the need not to rely solely on smoke alarms as the entire answer to escaping from fire.

These recent news events serve to reinforce the need for home escape planning. Smoke alarms are a tool in the planning process. Parents need to clearly understand their supporting roles in the escape plan. After going over the plan with your family, you should conduct a walkthrough of the plan. When you feel comfortable with your plan, hold a fire drill at night (activate your alarm) while your children are sleeping so that you and they can determine the appropriate response to a smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms and automatic sprinklers do save lives but they are just tools in the home escape process. There will continue to be research done and promotion of new fire safety technologies but families need to remember that while technology is an integral part of the process, the maintenance of that technology (e.g. regular testing, replacing batteries, etc.) and incorporating planning and participation in their use will be the key to saving lives.