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Smoke Alarms


FROM THE NFPA WEBSITE: www.nfpa.org/search.asp?query=SMOKE+ALARMS

Smoke alarms are the residential fire safety success story of the past quarter century. Smoke alarm technology has been around since the 1960s. But the single-station, battery-powered smoke alarm we know today became available to consumers in the 1970s, and since then, the home fire death rate has been reduced by half. Most states have laws requiring them in residential dwellings.
Important: Working smoke alarms are essential in every household. It is necessary to practice home fire drills to be certain everyone is familiar with the smoke alarm signal, and to determine if there are any obstacles to a quick and safe evacuation (including the inability for some to awaken to the smoke alarm signal).
Facts & figures
A 2004 U.S. telephone survey found that 96% of the households surveyed had at least one smoke alarm.
Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires in the small percentage of homes with no smoke alarms.
Homes with smoke alarms (whether or not they are operational) typically have a death rate that is 40-50% less than the rate for homes without alarms.
In one-quarter of the reported fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms, the devices did not work. Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.
Why do smoke alarms fail? Most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries.

NFPA urges replacing home smoke alarms after 10 years!!!!!!

Why? According to NFPA, aging smoke alarms don’t operate as efficiently and often are the source for nuisance alarms. Older smoke alarms are estimated to have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better, but should be replaced after 10 years. Unless you know that the smoke alarms are new, replacing them when moving into a new residence is also recommended by NFPA.
Smoke alarms, when properly installed, give an early audible warning needed to safely escape from fire. That’s critical because 85% of all fire deaths occur in the home, and the majority occur at night when most people are sleeping. Last year, NFPA documented 3,420 home fire deaths.
Fully 94% of U.S. homes had at least one smoke alarm as of 1997, according to NFPA, but as of 1998, 40% of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments and 52% of home fire deaths still occurred in the small share of homes with no smoke alarms. Half of the deaths from fires in homes equipped with smoke alarms resulted from fires in which the smoke alarm did not sound–usually when batteries were dead, disconnected or missing.

Installation and maintenance tips

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire’s location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.

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Lights blinking?

Protect yourself and your home from electrical hazards

Facts About Power Surges

What Are Power (Voltage) Surges?

A power surge is one form of electrical power disturbance. There are four main types of power


Power surges are generally considered to be the most destructive of the four types of electrical

power disturbances.

Power surges are spikes in voltage. They are very brief, usually lasting millionths of a second.

Power surges can vary in duration and magnitude, varying from a few hundred volts to several

thousand volts.

No matter where you live, your home experiences power surges.

How Does a Power Surge Cause Damage?

In the United States, most homes use electrical power in the form of 120-volt, 60 Hz, single

phase, alternating current. However, the voltage is not delivered at a constant 120-volts. With

alternating current the voltage rises and falls in a predetermined rhythm. The voltage oscillates

from 0 to a peak voltage of 169 volts.

Most appliances and electronics used in the United States

are designed to be powered by this form of generated electricity.

During a power surge, the voltage exceeds the peak voltage of 169 volts.

A spike in voltage can be harmful to appliances and electrical devices in your home. An increase

in voltage above an appliance’s normal operating voltage can cause an arc of electrical current

within the appliance. The heat generated in the arc causes damage to the electronic circuit

boards and other electrical components.

Smaller, repeated power surges may slowly damage your electronic equipment. Your computer

or stereo may continue to function after small surges occur until the integrity of the electronic

components finally erode and your satellite system, cordless phone, or answering machine

mysteriously stops working. Repeated, small power surges shorten the life of appliances and


Where Do Power Surges Come From?

There are several sources of power surges. They can originate from the electric utility company

during power grid switching. A common cause of power surges, especially the most powerful

ones, is lightning. Power surges can originate inside a home when large appliances like air

conditioners and refrigerator motors turn on and off.

_ Voltage dips (also called “sags” or “brownouts”)

_ Electromagnetic interference

_ Radio frequency interference

_ Power surges (also referred to as “voltage surges” or “transient voltages”)

There are over 20 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes detected per year in the 48 contiguous

states of the US.1

Power surges can enter a home through several paths. In the case of lightning, it can take the

path of the cable TV or satellite dish cable, through the incoming telephone lines, or through the

incoming electrical service line.

Knowing that power surges can take several paths and do not have to enter through the electrical

panel indicates a good surge protection system should include:

When deciding on what type of and how much surge protection is needed, each house and its

contents should be assessed individually. An electrician knowledgeable about power surge

protection systems and the history of problems in your area is a valuable resource.