Understanding what your smoke alarm is telling you | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateThu, 14 Oct 2021 10am

Understanding what your smoke alarm is telling you

Bruce Wade

October 3-9 is Fire Prevention week and firefighters are raising awareness on knowing and identifying the sounds your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors make and what they mean.
Drumheller Fire Chief Bruce Wade explains each alarm have their particular sound and is important to understand what these mean.
For Smoke alarms, a continued set of three loud beeps means there is a presence of smoke or fire, and you should evacuate the home. A single chirp every 30-60 seconds means either the batteries are low and need to be replaced or the alarm is not working properly and the entire mechanism needs to be replaced. The smoke detector will also emit a single chirp when the alarm has reached its end of life. Smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years, and the date of manufacture is on the units
With a carbon monoxide detector, four loud beeps mean carbon monoxide is present in your home. The course of action is to leave the home, stay outside and call 911. Like a smoke alarm, singe chirp every 30-60 seconds means the battery is low and must be replaced. Carbon monoxide alarms have end of life sounds that vary by manufacturers.
Just as important as knowing the sound the detector makes is knowing how to maintain them. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms need to be tested monthly.
“Even testing them every six months is better than putting them there and forgetting about them,” said Wade.
Smoke alarms offer the first line of defense for a family’s safety, and in recent years, with changes in building material and furniture, there is less time for families to get to safety.
“People need to test alarms and make sure they have a plan. It takes less than three minutes with the construction of houses now and synthetic furniture. They go up quick,” said Wade. “The BTU (British thermal units) in synthetic material, in three minutes you can be fully involved. Legacy furniture, years ago you could have 20 minutes before it got to the point of being life-threatening.”
Even house design plays a role.
“Even now with lightweight construction and how they build homes, with open space, fire spreads quicker, because it is not as compartmentalized,” he said. “With lightweight construction buildings are starting to fail in 5-10 minutes. Roof structures and trusses and that kind of stuff can start to collapse.”


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