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Smoke Detectors & Fire Alarms

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Smoke DetectorThe majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are sleeping. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a person. The poisonous gases and smoke produced by a fire can numb the senses and put you into a deeper sleep. Inexpensive household smoke detectors sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire. By giving you time to escape, smoke detectors cut your risk in half. Smoke detectors save so many lives that most states have laws requiring them in private homes.


Choosing a detector

Be sure the Smoke Detector you purchase carries the label of an independent testing laboratory such as "Underwriters Laboratories". They test the detectors to assure proper operation. Several types of detectors are available. Some run on batteries, others on household current. Some detect smoke using an "ionization" sensor while others use a "photoelectric" detection system. All listed smoke detectors, regardless of the type, will offer adequate protection provided they are installed and maintained properly.


Is one smoke detector enough?

Every home should have at least one smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Some recommendations specify a smoke detector in every sleeping area. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms or family rooms. Be sure everyone in your home can hear the smoke detector. If any residents are hearing impaired or sleep with their bedroom door closed, install additional detectors inside the bedroom as well. There are special smoke detectors designed for the hearing impaired; they flash a light in addition to sounding an audible alarm. For extra protection, the National Fire Protection Association suggests installing detectors in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms and hallways. It is not recommended you install smoke detectors in your kitchen, bathrooms or garages, where cooking fumes, steam or exhaust fumes will cause false alarms.


Where you should install the detector?

Because smoke rises, mount your smoke detectors high on the wall or on the ceiling. Wall mounted units should be mounted so that the top of the detector is 4'' - 12'' from the ceiling. A ceiling mounted detector should be attached at least 4'' from the nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the detector at or near the ceilings highest point.
In stairways with no doors at the top and bottom, position the smoke detectors anywhere in the path of the smoke moving up the stairs. Always position the detector at the bottom of a closed stairway, such as those leading from a basement, because dead air trapped near the top of the stairway could prevent smoke from reaching the detector at the top.
Do not install a smoke detector near a window, door or forced air register where drafts could interfere with the detectors operation.


Installation of smoke detectors

Most battery powered smoke detectors and detectors that plug into wall outlets can be installed using only a drill and screwdriver. Just read the instructions with the detector and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Plug in detectors must have restraining devices so that they cannot be un-plugged by accident. Smoke Detectors can be "Hard Wired" into a buildings electrical system by a qualified electrician. Never connect a smoke detector to a circuit that can be turned off by an electrical switch.


False alarms

Common causes of false alarms include cooking vapors and steam from a shower. To correct this, try moving the detector away from the kitchen or bathroom or install an exhaust fan. Cleaning your smoke detector regularly also helps prevent false alarms. If "nuisance alarms" persist, do not disable the smoke detector, REPLACE IT.


Regular maintenance of your smoke detector

Only a functioning smoke detector can protect you and your family! Never disable a smoke detector by borrowing the battery for another use. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing the smoke detector. The detector should be tested monthly. You should install fresh batteries at least twice a year. A good rule is to change the batteries in all of your detectors when you change your clocks for daylight savings. You should also change the battery when a smoke detector is "chirping"; that is an indication the battery is low. You can also now purchase smoke detectors with ten year batteries in them. Some other maintenance tips include cleaning your smoke detector using a dust brush. This can usually be done without having to remove the detector cover. Never paint a smoke detector. Smoke detectors should be replaced when they are more than ten years old.


Smoke Alarm Program

The Fire Department will provide two 10 year lithium powered smoke detectors for residents in need. Call (734) 544 - 4225.

These forms must be completed before the distribution of smoke alarms.

Smoke Alarm Waiver


Charter Township of Ypsilanti  •  7200 S. Huron River Dr. Ypsilanti, Mi 48197  •  (734) 544 - 4000

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