I was working in my office when I heard the smoke detector go off. At first, I thought nothing of it. I knew my wife was cooking and assumed steam or smoke had set off the alarm.
Eventually, I smelled smoke so I got up from my desk and opened the door to be greeted by thick, black smoke rolling down the hallway. My wife had become temporarily distracted and left food cooking on the stove while doing laundry in a distant part of the house. Grease had ignited and subsequently caught the microwave above the stove on fire. It was amazing how quickly the microwave melted onto the stove, adding fuel to the blaze.
My wife quickly grabbed our 3-year old grandson and ran out of the house while I battled the flames. Just a few more minutes and the fire would have become uncontrollable. While the house was saved, inky smoke coated the the kitchen and living room walls, requiring extensive cleaning and painting. The microwave and stove were a total loss. My wife, who is an excellent cook, took a lot of good-natured teasing since she had long desired a kitchen remodel.
It happened in a blink of an eye. Even after repairs, for months whenever my grandson visited and my wife was cooking, he would go into the kitchen and ask her, “Too hot, Nana?”
The latest statistics reported by the National Fire Protection Association (nfpa.org) state in 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,342,000 fires. These fires caused 3,390 civilian deaths and 14,650 civilian injuries. On average, there is a home fire every 90 seconds. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Other leading causes of house fires are appliances, space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces, and electrical distribution (wiring, meters, switches, outlets, cords, plugs, etc).
Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms. Is your smoke alarm system providing adequate protection? The National Fire Protection Association recommends homes should have smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
Did you know smoke alarms have an expiration date? Simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from the manufacture date (not the date of purchase). Your family is precious and your home is likely your largest asset. Make sure your life and property is properly protected by testing your alarms once a month.
CWC Electric, LLC installs smoke detectors. We provide and install interconnected smoke alarms with a variety of features. When one sounds, they all sound. Wireless technology uses radio frequency to both transmit and receive messages. Installation is generally quick and easy. There are a variety of affordable options on the market to meet any homeowner’s needs.
As a retired firefighter, the owner of CWC Electric, LLC, Chuck Hogan, highly recommends you take the time to test your smoke alarm. Smoke detectors only work if they work. Almost half of smoke detectors have missing or disconnected batteries or the smoke detector has “expired”. The life expectancy of a smoke detector is 10 years at which time sensors can begin to lose sensitivity. Don’t derive a false sense of security from the test button. The test button confirms the battery, electronics and alert system are functioning properly, not that the smoke sensor is working.
In the past, homeowners were instructed to change their smoke detector batteries with the changing of their clocks. Most of today’s modern smoke detectors are available with sealed lithium batteries which are good for 10 years on average. If you are still replacing batteries, it may be time for an upgrade.
The City of Topeka requires all smoke detectors be hard-wired with a battery back-up. Your specific location will dictate the requirements. Code may differ by city, county or state.
Would you like a free estimate to replace or upgrade your home’s fire alarms? Please call CWC Electric, LLC today at 785-215-8775.