Did you know that even if your home’s smoke alarms are still “testing” well each month, you should replace them once they’re 10 years old?
Yes, you may be diligent about adding new batteries and testing your alarms, but after 10 years, they may no longer work properly — even if they beep when you push the button.
We wanted to bring that to your attention today, as well as other tips about smoke alarms in your home.
In addition, in the second half of this column, we will address special fire concerns for those who live in manufactured homes.
We have a lot to cover, so let’s get going!
SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Working smoke alarms save lives in many, many home fires. In fact, about three out of five fire deaths occur in homes that have either non-working smoke alarms or none at all.
Here are some safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association:
• Install smoke alarms in each bedroom. They should also be installed outside each sleeping area and on each level of a home, including the basement.
• Large homes may need additional alarms.
• If you can, it is best to use interconnected alarms so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
• Test each device once a month. To do so, press the test button to see if it sounds.
• Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multi-sensing, which can include both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
• If you have older smoke alarms, also install a carbon monoxide alarm.
• A smoke alarm should be mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall. To reduce false alarms, keep smoke alarms at least 10 feet from the stove.
• Alarms for the hard-of-hearing or deaf are available. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
• And remember, replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
Fire SAFETY IN MANUFACTURED HOMES
Fire safety is a concern in manufactured homes, but by following a few tips and knowing the facts — and the safety requirements for manufactured homes — you can help keep your family safe.
Here are some safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association especially for manufactured homes:
• Choose a home built after 1976 that has the HUD label certifying that it meets certain minimum safety standards.
• Have a home fire escape plan that includes two ways out of each room and determine an outside meeting place. Make sure all ways out of the home are easy to use. Practice your fire drill at least twice a year.
• If smoke alarms sound when you are cooking, consider moving the alarm farther from the kitchen area or install a photoelectric type alarm that is less sensitive to cooking.
• Never remove or disable a smoke alarm. In half of all manufactured home fires, smoke alarms are missing. Because manufactured homes are required to be sold with smoke alarms, this may mean people are removing them.
• Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop or broiling in the oven.
• Keep gasoline, charcoal lighter and other flammable liquids locked in an outdoor shed. Never store items under the home. Store firewood away from the home.
Instruct smokers to smoke outside the home. Provide large, non-tip ashtrays and empty them frequently. Douse butts with water before throwing them away.
Never leave a lit candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or buying, call 360-533-7828 or visit 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen. Our office is fully ADA-compliant.