The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Installing smoke detectors

Smoke detectorsWe're zipping right through the easy section of our emergency preparedness goals, with this week's addition being smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Even though I put it on the easy list, though, I soon discovered that choosing a smoke detector is quite complex. 

You have to select either a model that relies on ionization to detect open flames, or on a photoelectric sensor to notice smoldering fires.  Although there are some detectors that lead you to believe they do both plus monitor for carbon monoxide, once you read the fine print, none do.

In the end, we chose to pay a bit more to cover all of our bases, getting a First Alert SA320CN smoke detector (photoelectric and ionization) and a First Alert CO400 carbon monoxide detector for the outside of each sleeping area.  Although the versions that hook into your electrical systems do avoid the problem of forgetting to change batteries, we opted for battery-powered models since power-outage situations are when we have more open flames around and need smoke detectors the most.

Installing smoke detectorI would tell you about how and where to install detectors in this post, but each device we bought came with a huge, fine-print-filled instruction sheet that was approximately the size of our kitchen table.  So as long as you take the time to read the instructions that come with your detector, you'll know far more than you ever thought you needed to know about installation and maintenance.

Our chicken waterer saves enough time that you can read that whole smoke detector instruction sheet.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I glad you added the CO monitor. My daughter and family nearly died when their furnace developed a crack in th firebox. Any flame produced heat can become hazardous over time. Chose a good milestone to help remember to change batteries; Daylight Saving, Winter Solstice or the first fire which will ensure healthy batteries for the most hazadous season.

Keep warm and stay safe.

Comment by Tom Fri Feb 8 10:15:57 2013

A CO monitor is a must in any house that has heaters which get their oxygen from inside the house. Although usually older houses leak enough to decrease the risk.

My experience with smoke detectors has been that they don't always work well. At work we once has a 10 L bucket of expoy resin cook off. This gave enough smoke to completely fill a 15x30x5 meter hall with smoke from around 2m up to the roof! But the smoke developed so gradually that none of the several smoke detectors went off... Until I opened a couple of big doors to air the place. At which point the alarm went off and I had to call the fire bridage and tell them everything was under control and they didn't have to scramble.

One tip: don't put a smoke detector above an oven where it's likely to go off when you open the oven door to get your cookies.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Feb 10 20:05:27 2013

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