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Fire Prevention Week: Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detector SafetyEven though the NFPA grew up in the US, today it is an international non-profit agency that does some tremendous work educating the public about preventing fires in the home worldwide.

Picture it: You’re sound asleep on a chilly winter night. You awaken to the smell of smoke. And not just the smell of smoke – the whole room’s engulfed in it. There’s a fire. Where is it? How bad is it? You jump out of bed . . .

We’ll leave it there, because the rest could be pretty complicated. It also might have been prevented had you kept properly working smoke detectors installed at strategic points throughout your home. With the proper fireplace safety and an in depth knowledge of smoke alarms, you could have prevented this whole scenario.

“Working smoke alarms save lives”

October 5-11, 2014 is Fire Prevention Week, and this year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.” Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Fire Prevention Week dates back to 1922, when a proclamation for this commemoration was signed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

That’s a lot of years ago, and there have been a lot of fires since that time, many of them surely preventable or at least quite containable. Smoke alarms, as the NFPA rightly preaches, can keep a smoldering stack of newspapers from exploding into a raging fire than levels the house. In our opening scenario, smoke wasn’t detected until a person smelled it. With a fire alarm, you’ll be alerted to just a small amount of smoke before it gets anywhere near you.

Smoke detector placement

Where you install smoke detectors depends on the size and layout of your dwelling. Kitchens, hallways, bedrooms and living rooms – and in particular these and any other areas where a fireplace or heating stove are in operation – are common locations.

The best rule of thumb on smoke detector placement is to put them in places where their piercing siren alarm can wake up people who are sleeping, or in the case of a kitchen fire, people who are in the general vicinity but out of sight.

The overall size of your home is an important consideration in placing smoke alarms. In a relatively small home, battery-operated units installed in appropriate areas is probably sufficient. However, if you own a sprawling 7,000-sqare-foot home, you’re better advised to install a high-tech fire-alert system. The reason is you may sleep far away from the source of a fire – say a fireplace or faulty wiring in the kitchen – meaning you likely won’t hear alarms going off when the initial smoke is detected. By the time the alarm outside your door goes off, half the house could be engulfed.

And speaking of fireplaces, did you know that poorly maintained chimneys are responsible for more than 25,000 home fires per year? Be smart and have your fireplace and chimney looked at by a certified inspector every 12 months. Only a skilled professional can spot and remove dangerous creosote buildup, which is what leads to the majority of hearth-related fires.

Marsh’s Stoves & Fireplaces of Toronto encourages everyone to become educated about fire prevention and safety. The National Fire Protection Association website is a good place to start. Use Fire Prevention Week as a reminder to be diligent all year long about making your home as safe as it can be.

For information about upgrading to more efficient stoves or fireplaces in your home, stop in and see us at 3322 Dundas Street West, or give us a call at (416) 762-4582.

Check out this fun video for kids that will teach them the importance of fire safety and listening for smoke detector alarms:

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