Gateway Gazette

True or False? Test your Smoke Alarm Knowledge

 

Think you know all there is to know about smoke alarms? Challenge yourself by taking this quiz!

True or False

  • I should replace my smoke alarm every 10 years.
  • A smoke alarm connected to household current is better than a battery-operated smoke alarm.
  • Ionization smoke alarms are better than photo-electric smoke alarms.
  • I will smell the smoke, so I don’t need a smoke alarm.
  • Most people who die in fires are burned.
  • I should test my smoke alarms annually.
  • My smoke alarm goes off every time I make toast. I should disable it so it won’t give nuisance alarms.
  • My family and I have more than three minutes to get out of the house after the smoke alarm goes off.

ANSWERS:

1. I should replace my smoke alarm every 10 years.

True.
Like all electronic equipment, smoke alarms have a defined life span. Smoke alarms generally have a life span between seven and 10 years, depending on the specific manufacturer and model. To best determine how to care for your smoke alarm, read the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your smoke alarm. Throughout the life of your alarm, test it every month to ensure it is functioning properly.

2. A smoke alarm connected to household current is better than a battery-operated smoke alarm.

False.
Both types of smoke alarms in Canada must be tested to the same standard and listed by an accredited testing organization such as Underwriters Laboratories of Canada, therefore both types are equally effective. However, both types of smoke alarms should be tested monthly. You will need to change the batteries in battery-operated smoke alarms at least once per year.

3. Ionization smoke alarms are better than photo-electric smoke alarms.

False.
Both types of smoke alarms are tested and listed by an accredited testing organization such as Underwriters Laboratories of Canada as life safety devices to the same standard – CAN/ULC-M531 Standard for Smoke Alarms, and are equally effective.

4. I will smell the smoke, so I don’t need a smoke alarm.

False.
One side effect of fires is the generation of carbon monoxide in smoke. Carbon monoxide will aid in the deepening of sleep and will affect the ability of your senses to function properly. Each house should have smoke alarms on every level, outside all sleeping areas and in each bedroom.

5. Most people who die in fires have suffered serious burns.

False.
Most people who die from home fires die from breathing the smoke and toxic gases from the fire – not from being burned by flames. These poisonous gases, including carbon monoxide, can render a person confused and disoriented or even unconscious after only a few breaths.

These toxic effects may overcome you long before you have time to orient yourself to get out of your own home. If you are asleep and breathe poisonous gases, you may not wake up in time to escape.

Smoke alarms are your best chance of being alerted to a house fire early enough to escape.

6. I should test my smoke alarms monthly.

True.
You should test your smoke alarms monthly. This is the only way to make sure that they are in working condition. Only working smoke alarms can protect your family from fire.

If you have battery-operated alarms, replace batteries according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually the battery will last approximately one year before needing replacement.

7. My smoke alarm goes off every time I make toast. I should disable it so it won’t give nuisance alarms.

False.
You need smoke alarms on every floor of your home, outside all sleeping areas and in each bedroom. If your smoke alarms give nuisance alarms, try the following:

  • relocate the existing smoke alarm a short distance away;
  • gently vacuum the outside of the unit, following manufacturer’s directions;
  • clean your toaster regularly to remove crumbs which can produce smoke when the heat is on; or
  • replace the smoke alarm with a new one. You can purchase one with a “hush” feature. You could also replace an ionization smoke alarm in the kitchen with a photoelectric type.

8. My family and I have about three minutes to get out of the house after the smoke alarm goes off.

True.
Studies have shown that you generally have about three minutes to escape from your home in the event of a fire. This is why it is so important to establish an escape plan for everyone in the family and to practice home fire drills.

For more information on fire safety in Alberta, contact your municipality’s fire or emergency service or the Office of the Fire Commissioner at 1-800-421-6929, email firecomm@gov.ab.ca or visit http://www.ofc.alberta.ca and click on the Public Education tab.

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