With their proven ability to double a family's chance of surviving a residential fire, smoke detectors are one of the most valuable fire safety tools on the market -- yet we tend to take them for granted.
And, carbon monoxide - appropriately dubbed "the silent killer" -- also gets little or no attention in many homes.
The experts say smoke alarms are such a common presence in our homes that it's easy to just expect them to work every time, but like many other devices and appliances around the house, smoke detectors require regular cleaning and maintenance to function effectively. And, there are many models on the market offering both smoke and carbon monoxide detection -- an often overlooked consideration.
To ensure the best family fire safety, smoke and carbon monoxide detection possible, we offer these tips:
Smoke Alarm Maintenance Musts:
*Keep them clean. Use your vacuum cleaner's upholstery attachment to clear way dust and cobwebs. And if the manufacturer's instructions say that it's safe to, gently vacuum inside the detector as well.
*Change the batteries once a year. Choose a date that's easy to remember, like a birthday, anniversary, or the day you switch over to Daylight Saving Time.
*Test your smoke detectors every month. Just press the test button -- if the alarm sounds, it works. Want to be extra sure? Light a candle, blow it out, and then hold it below the detector -- the trailing smoke should set the alarm off.
Facts to Know About Carbon Monoxide:
*Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced when wood and fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, charcoal, kerosene and gasoline don't burn completely.
*CO can't be seen, smelled, or tasted -- that's why its nickname is "the Silent Killer." Only a carbon monoxide detector can warn you that CO is present.
*CO poisoning often feels like the flu, with symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and headache, but can progress to disorientation, elevated heart rate, convulsions, organ damage, and even death.
*Carbon monoxide harms people by blocking oxygen from entering the bloodstream. CO bonds to the hemoglobin in blood, preventing it from doing its job: carrying oxygen throughout your body.
*When you're asleep, you can't feel CO symptoms. Make sure that carbon monoxide detectors are installed in all bedrooms and sleeping areas of your home - they save lives!