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Most people are aware of the danger of fire but are unaware of the fatality of smoke. More people die from breathing smoke than by burns. In fact, deaths from smoke inhalation outnumber deaths by burning by 2:1. In a hostile fire, smoke and deadly gases tend to spread farther and faster than heat from flames. Moreover, when people are asleep, deadly fumes can send them deeper into unconsciousness.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a powerful and effective fire safety technology. They are the first lines of defense against smoke and fire. They may awaken those who would otherwise have been overcome by smoke and toxic gases in their sleep. And most importantly, they provide an early warning alerting individuals of a fire, allowing them precious time to escape.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 75 to 80% of all deaths by fire happen in the home. More than half of these deaths occurred in buildings without smoke detectors. By installing a smoke detector, individuals can reduce the risk of dying by almost 50%.

Ionization smoke detectors monitor 'ions,' or electrically charged particles in the air. Air molecules in a sample chamber of ionization smoke detectors, are 'ionized' by a radioactive source. This allows a small electrical current flow. Smoke particles entering the sensing chamber change the electrical balance of the air. The greater the amount of smoke, the higher the electrical imbalance. When combustion particles enter the smoke detector, they obstruct the flow of the current. An alarm is pre-programmed to sound when the current gets too low.

Ionization smoke detectors respond first to fast flaming fires. A flaming fire devours combustibles extremely fast, spreads rapidly and generates considerable heat with little smoke.

Ionization alarms are best suited for rooms, which contain highly combustible material. These types of material include:

1. Cooking fat/grease 2. Flammable liquids 3. Newspaper 4. Paint 5. Cleaning solutions

Smoke alarms with ionization technology are the most popular types sold in the United States.

The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed in EVERY room and area of your home or bulding for complete protection. For maximum protection, install at least one ionization and one photoelectronic smoke alarm on each level of your home.

All smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years of operation. Ten years is a smoke alarm's useful lifetime and for continued, reliable safety and protection, smoke alarms need to be replaced.

Consumer's should consult their owner's manual for specific instructions when locating a smoke alarm. The following are some general guidelines:

Because smoke rises, smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or on walls at least 4 to 6 inches below the ceiling.

Smoke alarms should not be located less than 4 to 6 inches from where the wall and ceiling meet on either surface; this space is dead air that receives little circulation.

Smoke alarms should not be mounted in front of an air supply, return duct, near ceiling fans, peaks of A-frame ceilings, dusty areas, locations outside the 40 degree Farenheit to 100 degree Farenheit temperature range, in humid areas or near fluorescent lighting.

If you hear the smoke alarm, roll to the floor and crawl to the door. Stay low where the air is cleaner and cooler. Touch the door. If the door feels cool, open it just a crack and check for smoke. If there is no smoke, leave by your planned escape route. Crawl and keep your head down. If the door feels hot, do not open it. Do no panic. Escape out the window or use an alternate exit.

If you can't leave your room, seal the cracks around the doors and vents as best you can. Use a wet towel or clothing if possible. Open a window at both the top and bottom. Stay low and breathe fresh air. Shout for help and signal your location by waving a bright cloth, towel or sheet out of a window.

If you live in a high rise building, never use the elevator to escape fire. If the fire blocks your exit, close your apartment door and cover all cracks where smoke could enter. Telephone the fire department, even if fire fighters are aleready at the scene, and tell them where you are. Shout for help and signal your location by waving a bright cloth, towel or sheet out of a window.

If your clothes catch on fire, "Stop, Drop and Roll" to put out the flames. Do not run-running will only increase the flames.

Photoelectronic alarms contain a light emitting diode (LED) which is adjusted to direct a narrow infrared light across the unit's detection chamber. When smoke particles enter this chamber they interfere with the beam and scatter the light. A strategically placed photodiode monitors the amount of light scattered within the chamber. When a pre-set level of light strikes the photodiode, the alarm is activated.

Photoelectronic smoke alarms respond first to slow smoldering fires. A smoldering fire generates large amounts of thick, black smoke with little heat and may smolder for hours before bursting into flames.

Photoelectronic models are best suited for living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. This is because these rooms often contain large pieces of furniture, such as sofas, chairs, mattresses, counter tops, etc. which will burn slowly and create more smoldering smoke than flames. Photoelectronic smoke alarms are also less prone to nuisance alarms in the kitchen area than ionization smoke alarms.

The use of both ionization and photoelectronic smoke alarms will provide a home with maximum protection and an ample warning in the event of a fire.

Families should get together and draw a floor plan of their home. They should show two ways out of every room. The first way should be out a door and the second way could be through a window. If it is a second or third story window, they might consider purchasing a safety ladder. They should choose a meeting place for all family members outside the home and mark it on the plan. A good meeting place would be a driveway, tree or a neighbor's home.

Families should practice the escape plan to make sure everyone understands the planned routes. Involve every member of the family. Start with everyone in their beds with the doors closed. Have one person sound the smoke alarm. Have each person touch his or her door. (Tip: sleep with bedroom doors closed. A closed door will help show the spread of fire, smoke and heat). Practice low escape routes-one for a cool door and one for a hot door. Meet outdoors at the assigned meeting place. Designate one person to call the fire department. Make sure everyone knows the fire department or local emergency telephone number.

Consumers should be advised of the following features when choosing a smoke alarm to best suit their needs:

Alarm Silencer

Smoke detectors with an alarm silencer feature will silence an alarming unit for several minutes, giving the air time to clear. These models are idal near kitchen and cooking areas where most nuisance alarms occur. Note: consumers should always determine the reason for the unit sounding before quickly dismissing it as a nuisance alarm and pressing the alarm silencer feature to silence the alarm.

Long Life Smoke Detectors

The NFPA reports that 1/3 of all smoke detectors installed in homes are not operating because of dead or missing batteries. This is an all too common occurrence in smoke detectors that leaves families and homes vulnerable.

Long life smoke detectors utilize lithium batteries that provide up to 10 years of continuous protection. Lithium batteries eliminate the need and expense of semi-annual battery replacement. When long life smoke detectors near the end of their tenth year in operation, they will sound a low battery signal to remind consumers to replace the entire unit.

Note: it is recommended that smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years and be tested regularly.

Emergency Light

Some smoke detectors have a built-in emergency light that will turn on when the unit goes into alarm. The emergency light will illuminate an escape route in case of a power failure. These units are best utilized when installed by stairs and in hallways.


Hardwire smoke detectors are connected to a home's AC power supply and should be intalled by a licensed electrician according to the local electrical code. AC power means you never have to replace a battery to protect your home and family.


Carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with the flu. It is important that you discuss with all family members the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Different carbon monoxide concentrations and exposure times cause different symptoms. Remember, carbon monoxide detectors are your first defense against carbon monoxide poisoning.

EXTREME EXPOSURE: Unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, and death

MEDIUM EXPOSURE: Severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, vomitting, and fast heart rate

MILD EXPOSURE: Slight headache, nausea, fatigue (often described as 'flu-like' symptoms)

For most people, mild symptoms generally will be felt after several hours of exposure of 100 ppm's of carbon monoxide.

Many reported cases of carbon monoxide poisoning indicate that while victims are aware they are not well, they become so disoriented that they are unable to save themselves by either exiting the building or calling for assistance. Also, due to small size, young children and household pets may be the first affected.

If left unchecked, a child's exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to neurological disorders, memory loss, personality changes and mild to severe forms of brain damage.

If a child complains or shows signs of headaches, dizziness, fatigue or nausea or diarrhea, he or she could have carbon monoxide poisoning. Be especially aware of symptoms that disappear when the child is out of the house and reappear upon return, or symptoms that affect the entire household at once.

Since the symptoms closely mimic viral conditions such as the flu, without the fever, carbon monoxide poisoning is often treated improperly, if at all.

A physician can perform a simple blood test (called a carboxyhemoglobin test) to determine the level of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. If elevated levels of carbon monoxide are present, hyperbaric (high-pressure) oxygen treatment may be used to rid the body of carbon monoxide. A physician will make this determination and administer treatment if necessary.

Children with carbon monoxide poisoning have mistakenly been treated for indigestion.

The following are considerations consumers should be advised to take when choosing a carbon monoxide detector that will be sure to meet their needs.

1. Consumers should consider ease of installation, the location of installation and the power source of an alarm when choosing a plug-in, battery powered or hardwire model.

Plug-in units are designed to directly plug into a standard 120-volt electrical outlet for simple installation. This location provides easy access for both testing and resetting the detector. In addition, the location provides both a visual and audible difference from a ceiling mounted smoke alarm, which may help to eliminate confusion during an emergency alarm condition. A plug-in unit also requires no additional costs for annual battery replacement.

Battery powered units can be easily mounted to a wall or ceiling if the consumer wishes to keep electrical outlets free, if they wish to keep the unit relatively out of sight, or if they would like to keep the alarm away from the reach of children. Some battery-powered units are portable alarms that work anywhere--no installation required. These units may be mounted to a wall, left on a tabletop or carried while traveling. Battery powered units require battery replacement every year, similar to smoke alarms. These units will have a low battery-warning signal to indicate when the batteries need repacing.

Hardwire units are powered by wiring the unit directly into a household's AC power supply at a junction box. A licensed electrician according to the local electrical code should install them. The unit can be permanently installed to prevent tampering.

2. Consumers should choose a carbon monoxide detector with the features (e.g. low level warning, battery back up, digital display, etc.) that meet their needs.

Low Level Warning-some carbon monoxide alarms sound a warning (e.g. 3 short beeps) when a low level of carbon monoxide has been detected. Low levels of carbon monoxide can be hazardous over a long period of time. Low level warnings flag potential carbon monoxide problems and allow consumers time to respond to them before an emergency situation arises.

Battery Backup-some plug-in carbon monoxide alarm models have a back-up power source that allows the unit to function in the event of a main line power failure. During a power outage, people are likely to use alternate sources of power, light and heat (e.g. kerosene heaters, gas-powered portable generators and fireplaces) which may be out of tune and may produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Digital Display-some carbon monoxide alarms have a digital display that shows the levels of carbon monoxide in the air in parts per million (ppm). For some people, this added feature provides at-a-glance peace of mind.

3. Consumers should choose an alarm that has been accuracy tested.

American Sensors(TM), guarantees each of its alarms to be Triple Accuracy Tested(TM).

American Sensors'(TM) triple Accuracy Testing process exposes every alarm to three separate tests during manufacturing. This testing process includes twice exposing the alarm to carbon monoxide to precisely calibrate each unit. One test is at high levels and the second is at lower levels of carbon monoxide. In the third step, every alarm is tested to protect against nuisance alarms.

This stringent method of testing and quality control helps ensure that every American Sensors(TM) carbon monoxide alarm will provide years of reliable, accurate protection for your family and home.

4. Consumers should compare alarm warranties and note hidden operating costs.

Consumers should select an alarm that offers a comprehensive warranty. The alarm's warranty should include its sensor. Consumers should be advised that some CO alarms require the purchase of an expensive replacement sensor and/or battery pack as an ongoing expense. American Sensors(TM) alarms do not require replacement sensors and carry a 5 year warranty.

5. Check that the product is Listed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. UL 2034 and/or Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada.

Consumers should avoid any brand that does not bear the mark of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and/or Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada.

All American Sensors(TM) carbon monoxide alarms meets and/or exceeds the latest stringent standards of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and/or Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada.

Carbon monoxide is generated through incomplete combustion of fuel such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, and charcoal, gasoline or wood.

This incomplete combustion can occur in a variety of home appliances. The major cause of high levels of carbon monoxide in the home is faulty ventilation of funaces, hot water heaters, fireplaces, cooking stoves, grills and kerosene heaters.

Other common sources are car exhausts, and gas or diesel powered portable machines.

Faulty or improper ventilation of natural gas and fuel oil furnaces during the cold winter months accouts for most carbon monoxide poisoning cases.

Correct operation of any fuel burning equipment requires two key conditions. There must be:

* An adequate supply of air for complete combustion.

* Proper ventilation of fuel burning appliances through the chimney, vents or duct to the outside.

Install carbon monoxide alarms as a first line of defense against poisoning. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible alarm near the sleeping areas in every home. Install additional alarms on every level and in every bedroom to provide extra protection.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen anywhere and at any time in your home. However, most carbon monoxide poisoning cases occur while people are sleeping. Therefore, for the best protection, a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in the sleeping area.

Approximately 250 people in the US died last year from the 'silent killer'-carbon monoxide. The safety experts at Underwriter's Laboratories Inc. (UL) recommend that consumers follow these steps to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

1. Have a qualified technician inspect fuel-burning appliances at least once a year. Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, how water heaters and stoves require yearly maintenance. Over time, components can become damaged or deteriorate. A qualified technician can identify and repair problems with your fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide detectors can detect a carbon monoxide condition in your home.

2. Be alert to the danger signs that signal carbon monoxide problems, e.g., streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of your fuel burning appliances; the absence of a draft in your chimney; excessive rusting on flue pipes or appliance jackets; moisture collecting on the windows and walls of furnace rooms; fallen soot from the fireplace; small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent or flue pipe; damaged or discolored bricks at the top of your chimney and rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from outside your home.

3. Be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning may be the cause of flu-like symptoms such as headaches, tightness of chest, dizziness, fatigue, confussion and breathing difficulties. Because carbon monoxide poisoning often causes a victim's blood pressure to rise, the victim's skin may take on a ink or red cast.

4. Install a UL/ULC Listed carbon monoxide detector outside sleeping areas. A UL/ULC Listed carbon monoxide alarm will sound an alarm before dangerous levels of carbon monoxide accumulate.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen to anyone, anytime, almost anywhere. While anyone is susceptible, experts agree that unborn babies, small children, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide and are at the greatest risk for death or serious injuries. Itís time to install your carbon monoxide detector.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide due to their high metabolic rates. Because children use more oxygen faster than adults do, deadly carbon monoxide gas accumulates in their bodies faster and can interfere with oxygen supply to vital organs such as the brain and the heart. Unborn babies have an even higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning in pregnant women has been linked to birth defects. This is another reason to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Hundreds of people die each year, and thousands more require medical treatment, because of carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. Now, with recent technological breakthroughs, you can avoid becoming one of these statistics simply by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Consumers should consult their owner's maunal for a carbon monoxide detector procedure. However, the following is a general procedure:

If a carbon monoxide detector sounds a low level warning or hazard level alarm, consumers should push the test/reset button to silence it.

If no one in the household has any carbon monoxide symptoms (headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue) consumers should be advised to open the doors and windows to air out their house. They should turn off any gas, oil or other fuel powered appliances including the furnace and call a qualified technician or thier local utility company to inspect and repair their home before restarting the furnace and all fuel-burning appliances.

If anyone in the household does have signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, consumers should leave their home immediately and call their local emergency service or 911 for help. They should do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for once outside in the fresh air. They should not re-enter their home until it has been aired out and the problem corrected by a qualified technician or utility company.

Most carbon monoxide detectors sold at retail are for use in single residential living units only. They should only be used inside a single family home or apartment. They cannot be used in RV's or boats.

Carbon monoxide detectors should not be installed in the following locations:

1. Kitchens or within 5 feet of any cooking appliance where grease, smoke, and other decomposed compounds from cooking could build up on the surface of the carbon monoxide sensor and cause the alarm to malfunction.

2. Bathrooms or the other rooms where long-term exposure to steam or high levels of water vapor could permanently damage the carbon monoxide sensor.

3. Very cold (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) or very hot (above 100 degrees Fahrenheit) rooms. The alarm will not work properly under these conditions.

4. Do not place in a close proximity to an automobile exhaust pipe, as this will damage the sensor.


Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully before installing a carbon monoxide alarm. Do not place the alarm within five feet of household chemicals. If your alarm is wired directly into your home's electrical system, you should test it monthly. If your unit operates off a battery, test the alarm weekly and replace the battery at least once a year.

Avoid placing your alarm directly on top of or directly across from fuel-burning appliances. These appliances will emit some carbon monoxide when initially turned-on. Never use charcoal grills inside a home, tent, camper or unventilated garage. Don't leave vehichles running in an enclosed garage, even to 'warm up' your car on a cold morning.

Know how to respond to a carbon monoxide detector. If your alarm sounds, immediately open windows and doors for ventilation. if anyone in the home is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning-headache, dizziness or other flu-like symptoms, immediately evacuate the house and call the fire department. Don't go back into the house until a fire fighter tells you it is okay to do so. If no one is experiencing these symptoms, continue to ventilate, turn off fuel-burning appliances and call a qualified technician to inspect your heating system and appliances as soon as possible. Because you have provided ventilation, the carbon monoxide buildup may have dissipated by the time help responds and your problem may appear to be temporarily solved. Do not operate any fuel-burning appliances until you have clearly identified the source of the problem. A carbon monoxide alarm indicates elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the home. NEVER IGNORE THE ALARM.

The safety experts urge consumers to recognize the danger signs of carbon monoxide before any harm can come to them or their families.