Our Northwest

Smoke alarms now expected in each bedroom

Friday, March 20, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

When Daylight Saving Time kicked in March 8, many people dutifully changed the batteries in their smoke alarms.
   It’s a good habit to do that twice a year, when the time changes. PEMCO posted a new smoke-alarm infographic on social media sites as a reminder.
   Just one problem: We missed the fact that the National Fire Protection Association has updated its requirement. Thanks to Kittitas County Fire District 7, which is conducting a smoke alarm awareness campaign, now we know better.
   “Keep smoke alarms on each floor, plus in and near each bedroom” is NFPA’s current guidance. The “in” part – rather than just “near” – is recent.
   “They’re targeting older homes, where there’s often just an alarm on each level,” said KCFD7’s Carolyn Berglund. “The new code is because many people sleep with their bedroom doors closed. Any space that’s used as a sleeping area should have a smoke alarm.”
   That’s why the new requirement says “in" as well as "near” each bedroom.
   I joked that my problem is, questionable cooking at home sometimes triggers the smoke alarm that’s near our kitchen. So I end up disconnecting the 9-volt battery until the air clears.
   Berglund said a common problem is that people install smoke alarms too close to cooking areas.
   “There needs to be a separation of 10 feet so you don’t have false alarms,” she said. “Often times, people with too many false alarms will disconnect the batteries.”
   And neglect to reconnect them.
   Berglund also wants people to know that the hearing impaired can buy smoke alarms with flashing lights. There even are alarms that will shake your bed.
   We’ve now updated our PEMCO smoke-alarm infographic. You also can learn more at this NFPA website.

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