By: Miranda Clay

Its springtime, the time of year that cleaning comes to mind; out with the old in with the new! This is also the perfect time to give that smoke detector in your home some T.L.C to support the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

In the United States, seven people die every day in a fire; many of these fires are preventable. The Red Cross’s goal is to reduce deaths by 25% in five years, with a series of community fire education initiatives. Preparedness is the key to success when it comes to any disaster and simply requires a little bit of time to learn how to combat them.

There is truly a vast range of fire detectors, prices range from less than $10 to over $100; with such a range how is it possible to even know which is right for your home and family? Ionization and photoelectric are the two most commonly used smoke alarms according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

What’s the difference, you might ask? The ionization alarm works when the two plates, which have a material between them which creates an ionic field. When the field is broken by smoke the alarm is set off. In the photoelectric alarm a beam is set an angle against sensor, which in return creates a chamber. When smoke enters the chamber the alarm is triggered. Ionization alarms generally work better with flame fires where photoelectric alarms are aimed for smoldering fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA also recommends for the best protection that both alarms be used.

Generally, you can purchase a smoke alarm at various local retailers or online. The pricing really depends on the type of alarm you are seeking. Many smoke alarms include a carbon monoxide and natural gas monitor as well. Some monitors do not have batteries to replace; the unit is simply replaced after ten years. These monitors have a built in battery. Other detectors need frequently replaced batteries and thus it is necessary that you know which kind of alarm you have and be aware of when it needs to be changed.

Fire Alarms should be tested frequently, every month. The Red Cross suggests installing an alarm on each level of your home and depending on the size of your home there should be one on each end of each level. Batteries should be changed based on the manual for your smoke alarm however, it is recommended that batteries be changed yearly; when spring cleaning why not make changing your battery a part of your routine. Alarms should be replaced every ten years; also with some monitors batteries replacement is not needed if the monitor has a built in battery. It is important to be familiar with your alarm’s manual.

Home fires are disasters; they destroy homes, families and even take lives. Many fires are preventable. Support the movement and take a stance by checking your smoke alarm, develop an evacuation plan and most importantly remember to practice your families’ fire escape plan during spring cleaning this year.

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