Test your smoke detectors once a month, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace any battery too weak to sound the alarm.
Heed the warning
Most battery-powered detectors “chirp” to alert you when their battery power is low. When you hear the warning, replace the batteries; don’t just disconnect them.
Time for a change
Replace smoke detector batteries routinely on the same day each year. Z3 suggests the last Sunday in October-the day you roll the clocks back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time each fall.
Don’t Borrow Trouble
Too often people disable smoke detectors by removing their batteries for other uses. Never “borrow” batteries from a smoke detector.
Dealing with false alarms
Many smoke detectors are not recommended for use in kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust fumes can set off the alarm when there is no fire. Yet many people simply disconnect smoke detector batteries in an effort to prevent these nuisance alarms. If your home is plagued by false alarms, don’t disable your detector-relocate it away from the kitchen or bathroom, or install an exhaust fan. If nuisance alarms persist, replace the detector.
Clean your smoke detectors
Smoke detectors can also fail to perform properly because of age, nicotine or excessive dirt. Clean your detectors regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. And never paint any part of a smoke detector.
Replace detectors every 5-10 years
Home smoke detectors have a life expectancy of about 5-10 years depending on the manufacturer. Replace any detector that is more than 10 years old.
Z3 Consultants recommends that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance of your smoke detectors.
- Test your home for radon — it’s easy and inexpensive.
- Fix your home if your radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher.
- Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be reduced.
Radon Gets In Through:
- Cracks in solid floors
- Construction joints
- Cracks in walls
- Gaps in suspended floors
- Gaps around service pipes
- Cavities inside walls
- The water supply
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas.
Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. But it may be a problem in your home. Radon is estimated to cause many thousands of deaths each year. That’s because when you breathe air containing radon, you can get lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Radon can be found all over the U.S.
Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. It can get into any type of building – homes, offices, and schools – and result in a high indoor radon level. But you and your family are most likely to get your greatest exposure at home, where you spend most of your time.
You should test for radon.
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. January and other cooler weather months are the best time to test your home for radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
You can fix a radon problem.
Radon reduction systems work and they are not too costly. Some radon reduction systems can reduce radon levels in your home by up to 99%. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
Make sure to install your CO detector correctly:
- Install UL (Underwriters Laboratories) standard 2034 CO detectors in your home. Place at least one UL listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal outside individual bedrooms, especially on the lowest floor which contains a sleeping area.
- Do not install a detector in a place that is near vents, flues or chimneys in the kitchen.
- Do not place your detector near paint or paint thinner fumes or within five feet of any household chemicals.
- Avoid placing your detector directly on top of or directly across from fuel burning appliances. These appliances will emit some CO when initially turned on.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before installing a CO detector.
- Test CO alarms monthly if your detector is wired directly into your home’s electrical system or weekly if it operates off a battery.
- Make sure you replace the battery at least once year and clean the alarms as indicated in the manufacturer’s use and care booklet.
- Never allow anyone to “borrow” the battery from your detector.
Remember to look for the UL or FM seal of approval. Be aware of the recommended size and type you want before you shop for a fire extinguisher. Be certain you are purchasing a unit that will give you maximum protection. The hardware on an extinguisher can be either plastic or metal. Both types, if approved by a recognized testing laboratory, should serve for their intended purpose. It is usually economical to purchase a unit that can be recharged.
Place the mounting bracket for the extinguisher on a firm surface 31/2 to 5 feet above the floor. Extinguishers should be installed away from any potential fire hazards and near exits or escape routes in the areas you plan to protect.
Read the operating instructions on the label and examine the unit when it is purchased. Be certain to instruct all family members and employees on the premises in the use and location of a fire extinguisher. Prepare ahead of time! Do not wait until a fire occurs to read and interpret operating instructions. Although extinguishers may vary slightly in operating procedures, most will use the following steps:
- Grasp the unit by the carrying handle and the base; remove it from the mounting bracket and carry it to the fire.
- Pull the locking pin to break the tamper seal. If the unit has a hose, remove the hose from its retaining clip.
- Move the extinguisher as close to the fire as possible without endangering yourself. Grasp the hose in one hand and press or squeeze the handle or trigger release with the other. (If the unit is a CO2 extinguisher, do not grasp the plastic discharge horn, since it may freeze your hand.) If the unit has no hose, direct the stream of extinguishing agent by maneuvering the extinguisher.
- Discharge the contents of the unit at the base of the flames with a back and forth, sweeping motion. Sweep from the near edge to the rear of the fire and then up the vertical surface. Always leave an escape route for yourself when you are fighting a fire.
Inspection and Maintenance
Inspect extinguishers at least once a month. This includes checking to be sure that each is in its recommended location, the pressure is up, the tamper seal is not broken, no damage has been done to the unit, and the hose or nozzle is unobstructed. Most units sold today are pressurized and have a gauge that shows whether the unit has sufficient stored pressure to discharge the contents. If, after a routine inspection, the pressure gauge shows insufficient pressure, the extinguisher should be recharged or replaced immediately. Extinguishers also should be recharged after each use, despite the amount of chemical discharged. If in doubt about where you can get an extinguisher serviced or repaired, check the Yellow Pages under fire extinguishers.
How Fires Are Classified
|Class A - Ordinary combustibles or fibrous material, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and some plastics.|
|Class B - Flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, paint, paint thinners and propane.|
|Class C - Energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, switches, panel boxes and power tools.|
|Class D - Certain combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These metals burn at high temperatures and give off sufficient oxygen to support combustion. They may react violently with water or other chemicals, and must be handled with care.|
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