||Fire, Smoke, & Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Fire and smoke often overcoming victims while
they sleep. Consequently, most fire and smoke
detectors sound a loud, alarm-clock like
alarm at the first signs of trouble in order
to wake and alert people in the vicinity
of the problem. Carbon monoxide (CO), on
the other hand, can kill day or night because
it's presence is invisible and its affects
are slower and less noticeable. Homes with
combustion equipment (gas stoves, water heaters,
furnaces, and space heaters) and attached
garages should have a carbon monoxide detector.
Features to Consider
Whether you choose an "all
detector or separate detectors,
features we suggest you consider:
- detector type - smoke detectors typically
use ionic or optical sensing to detect smoke.
Ionic detectors are more sensitive to small,
invisible smoke particles. Optical detectors
are sensitive to visible smoke. Both types
receive the Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
approval, and it is difficult to say which
is better without knowing the type of fire.
Consequently, some units have both types
of detectors for increased sensitivity.
- power supply - most detectors are battery
operated, which means they operate even during
a power failure but require periodic changing
of the battery. Other units are powered by
wiring directly into the house's power and
so have the opposite pro's and cons. If practical
for your home, we recommend units that are
both directly wired and have a battery back-up.
- alarm - most will sound an audible alarm,
some will also illuminate an area near the
detector to facilitate exit at night. More
expensive units will automatically dial an
emergency number or notify an alarm company
in order to summon help should you not be
home. However, for most purposes, an audible
alarm and light should be a sufficient, cost-effective
- test - make sure the unit has a test button
to verify that it works.
- silence - it is very helpful if you burn
toast to be able to silence (deactivate)
the alarm for a short period. This button
should work like the "snooze" button
on an alarm clock; it should NOT be an on/off
button, as you do not want to risk forgetting
to turn the alarm back on.