Your foremost concern is keeping your family safe. Probably the most fundamental way to see to their safety is to own some sort of residential fire alarm system. Systems can range from a single smoke detector to an elaborate system monitored by a company. If you're not sure of what is the best system for your family, then you should look into the different types of home fire alarms. Then you will be able to make an informed decision about the kind that will provide the most protection and work in your budget.
Every Home Must Have a Smoke Detector
At the very minimum, your home fire alarm system should include one or more smoke detectors, depending on the size of the house. Smoke detectors are a small alarm that's mounted on the ceiling. When the machine detects smoke, the alarm goes off. Many small apartments have only one, but the safest way is to have one to each room.
Smoke detector options include an interconnected system of smoke alarms, in which if one goes off, all the others do as well, and smoke detectors with built in carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, deadly gas that can be produced by an improperly working furnace.
Although it seems like a good idea to have a smoke alarm in the kitchen, because that is where the majority of home fires start, in reality it is not recommended. This is because smoke can be a usual product of food preparation, burned toast for example, and it is inconvenient to have to respond to these false alarms. The smoke detector placed in the next room will sound if there is a real fire in the kitchen.
Many home smoke detectors use battery power. With battery powered smoke alarms a general rule of thumb is change the battery once a year without fail. One way to remember is to do it on the day we turn the clocks back in fall. Other smoke detectors are "hardwired," that is connected to the electricity in the house; however, electric smoke alarms do not work when the power is out, just when your family may need them. Another popular option is an electrical smoke alarm with battery back-up, in which case you must still change the battery every year.
Many cities and states have laws requiring automatic fire sprinklers in new residential buildings, usually in high density communities. If you are building or remodeling your home, take automatic fire sprinklers into consideration. The cost can certainly be steep, but the savings can be enormous, the lives of your family members and your home and precious keepsakes.
Automatic sprinklers are plumbed into the water system of the house, and will release a forceful spray of water when the temperature at the ceiling reaches a certain level. They can be recessed into the ceiling using white, black or neutral fittings, and will pop out in use.
It is a good idea for every home to have one or more fire extinguishers within easy reach. That way, when the fire alarm does go off, quick action may prevent a small, contained fire from becoming a large destructive one. The best kind of fire extinguisher for home use is one that is relatively small (for easier use) and contains a fire extinguishing chemical that can be used on the largest variety of fire types (grease, wood, textiles, etc.). Make sure the instructions are clear and easy to read, and have your extinguisher checked by a certified agency once a year.
Monitored Fire Alarm Systems
The very top of the line is a monitored residential fire alarm system. This is usually installed along with a burglar alarm system. These systems will include remote monitoring from a company that will contact fire and medical authorities in the event of an emergency. A monitored fire alarm system will contain a central control panel that hooks up to several smoke alarms and heat detectors. Heat detectors are usually more reliable than smoke detectors alone, since they contain more sophisticated mechanics. These all inclusive systems have the additional advantage of being run off the house power with battery backup in the event of a power outage.
The disadvantage to this system is the cost of installation, and the monitoring service does require a small monthly fee. However, if you can make room in the budget for it, the ability to put more sophisticated detectors in some places, such as the kitchen, and the enhanced reliability of outside monitoring are good reasons to purchase such a system.
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