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Fire Prevention Fundamentals: Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers

Smoke detectors are considered to be one of the most important safety devices you can have. Studies have shown that properly functioning smoke detectors can reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent.

In addition to smoke detectors, the installation of fire extinguishers in your organization is another important safety precaution. When properly used, a fire extinguisher can help prevent a small fire from turning into a devastating blaze.

For added protection, a variety of monitored fire alarm systems also are available. With these systems, a monitoring service can automatically dispatch firefighters to the building. This is particularly valuable when you or your employees are away. If you own a monitored system, you may qualify for discounts on your insurance. Please ask your GuideOne Insurance agent for more details.

Review the following checklist for smoke detector and fire extinguisher guidelines:

  • Smoke Detector Locations – Experts recommend installing smoke detectors in the following areas:
    • Inside each bedroom;
    • In the main corridor outside each bedroom area;
    • Above stairwells in the home’s upper levels; and
    • On the ceiling at the bottom of a basement stairwell.
  • Placement – Ideally, smoke detectors should be installed in the middle of the ceiling. As an alternative, smoke detectors can be mounted on the wall at least 3 feet from a corner and 4 to 6 inches from the ceiling. Keep them away from windows, air vents, and other sources of drafts.
  • Testing – Test your smoke detectors once a month according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Batteries – Replace batteries on smoke detectors once every six months, or once a year, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Cleaning – Clean all smoke detectors regularly by dusting or vacuuming them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replacing Smoke Detectors – Smoke detectors do not last forever. Manufacturers typically suggest replacing them after 10 years of use.
  • Fire Extinguisher Locations – Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries, so be sure to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. You also should have a fire extinguisher in every room where there is potential for a fire to start, such as a garage, workshop, and family room with a fireplace.
  • Fire Extinguisher Placement – Manufacturers recommend mounting each fire extinguisher on a wall near an exit or escape route from the room.
  • Fire Extinguisher Ratings – Fire extinguishers are rated for the type and size of fire they can potentially put out. Generally, an “A” is for wood, paper. and fabric fire; “B” is for grease and oil-based fire; and “C” is for electrical fire. Select a fire extinguisher that is appropriately rated for each location.
  • Fire Extinguisher Inspection – Regularly check the pressure gauges on fire extinguishers to see if they are properly charged.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.