In many countries, including South Africa, the law requires the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home. The reason is simple: these alarm systems save lives.
THE DANGERS OF SMOKE
Many of the fatal fires occur at night and in homes without smoke detectors. In the majority of cases, occupants sleeping in the house will not even notice that there is a fire and will become poisoned in their sleep.
A well-functioning smoke detector can wake up the family before it’s too late, and even better when connected to a monitoring station.
THE DANGERS OF CARBON MONOXIDE
Carbon monoxide CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, wood, fuel oil, and coal. Most homes are equipped with an appliance that is powered by one of these fuels.
If the appliance does not have a suitable gas vent or if it is malfunctioning, it can fill the house with carbon monoxide.
At first, the symptoms of CO2 poisoning resemble those of the flu:
- nausea or vomiting, and short
- difficult breathing
It only takes a few minutes for carbon monoxide to cause unconsciousness, resulting in serious and permanent damage to the body. A working carbon monoxide detector can alert you and your family to this danger.
CHOOSING A SMOKE, HEAT, AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
There are several models of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Before purchasing one of these fire detectors, make sure that the Canadian Recognized Safety Approval Seal is affixed to the packaging.
You should be able to read the words <ULC>. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are sold separately although there are devices that combine the two types of detection.
There are two models of smoke detectors.
- More sensitive ionization smoke detectors. They have a tendency to trigger more frequently when exposed to steam or to a burning toast in the kitchen.
- The photoelectric smoke detector is particularly effective at detecting a smoldering fire that produces a lot of smoke, but little flame.
INSTALL A DETECTOR
According to current building standards, smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom and on every floor of your home, including the basement.
They should be installed in an upper part of a wall and at a distance from bathrooms, kitchens, heaters, and ceiling fans.
REPLACE THE BATTERY
If your 120-volt smoke detectors have a battery, we suggest replacing it every 6 months. A good way to remember this is to put in a fresh battery when you set the clocks in March and November.
If you hear a beeping beep, replace the battery immediately. If your smoke detectors are connected to a security system, the central monitoring station monitors the state of the batteries and will notify you in the event of a low battery.
CLEANING THE SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
Smoke detectors are less effective if they are clogged with dust. Follow the manufacturer’s directions before cleaning your device. When working with dust, surround your devices with a grocery-type plastic bag.
REPLACE THE SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
Smoke detectors have a limited lifespan. Typically, you will need to replace the device every 10 years. The replacement date must be written on the detector.
Otherwise, if there is no date written on the device, it must be replaced, as it is considered expired. For CO2 carbon monoxide detectors, their lifespan is 5 years.