The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) credits properly working smoke alarms with the decline in deaths related to fire that the United States has witnessed over the past 30 years. In fact, the presence of smoke alarms that are installed and working properly can slash the chances of a person dying in a fire by 50 percent. As the owner of an investment property, here’s what you need to know about smoke alarms:
1. Flashovers occur more quickly these days
As the Underwriters Laboratory ( UL) noted, the average home of today becomes engulfed fully in flames about eight times more quickly than the homes of just 50 years ago. In fact, it takes only about three minutes for a fire to get uncontrollable. This minuscule window to get out of the house safely is occurring because the manufacturers of furniture and other household items are choosing synthetic materials over natural ones. These petroleum-based products offer a reduced cost and improved performance but are more flammable. In general, synthetic materials tend to burn more fiercely, catch on fire more quickly and generate more smoke when compared to materials that are made of natural fibers like wool, silk, linen or cotton.
2. Test smoke alarms often
The technology is currently being developed that can distinguish between nuisance smoke and other smoke. Until then, it’s important to impress upon tenants the importance of not removing the smoke alarm batteries — even when faced with smoke from cooking or other nuisance smoke. Smoke alarms should be tested once a month to ensure that they beep. If they don’t, change the batteries.
3. Replace smoke alarms every ten years
If changing the batteries of a non-working smoke alarm doesn’t result in the device working, it’s time to replace it. Even if a smoke alarm is still working well, it should be changed every decade according to its original manufacture date — not the date that it was installed in the home.
Contact your nearest fire department for more fire safety tips that you can share with your tenants.