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Fire Prevention FAQs provided by Kidde

1) When do I need to replace my smoke & fire alarms?
Smoke & Fire alarms need to be replaced every ten years. The life of an AC powered alarm is 8-10 years.

2) Are there different kinds of smoke & fire alarms for each area of the home?
There are two types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization units are best at detecting fast flaming fires that give off little smoke. Photoelectric are the fastest at responding to slow smoldering, smoky fires and are less prone to cooking false alarms, than ionization models. Ionization units are better in humidity areas such as a hallway outside a bathroom. Photoelectric are the best type for a kitchen.

It is advisable to install a smoke alarm with a hush button to instantly silence nuisance alarms that result from burnt toast, steam and other non-emergencies. A hush button eliminates the need to remove batteries to silence the alarm.

3) How often should I test my smoke alarm, and when do I need to change the batteries?
They should be tested monthly or per the manufacturer's instructions. If you can't reach the test button, use a broom handle. The batteries should be replaced twice a year, or sooner if the low battery indicator chirps. A good rule-of-thumb is to replace the batteries at the same time you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Clean the alarm by removing from the mounting bracket, and vacuum using the soft brush attachment, or wipe with a clean, dry cloth. After cleaning, reinstall and test, using the test button.

4) Where should smoke & fire alarms be installed?
For minimum coverage, a smoke & fire alarm should be installed on every level of the home, and in each sleeping area. For maximum protection, an alarm should be installed on every level, including basements and finished attics, every bedroom, in the hallway outside of every sleeping area, at the top and bottom of stairways and in rooms that are frequently used. (see diagram below)

5) What kind of fire extinguisher do I need for my home and auto?
The following ratings are applicable to fire extinguishers: Class A-Fires of ordinary combustibles or fibrous materials, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber and some plastics. Class B-Fires of flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, oil grease, tar, flammable gases, oil based paints and paint thinners. Class C-Fires of energized electrical equipment, such as appliances, wiring, fuse boxes, switches and power tools. Extinguishers that are made to put out more than one class of fire are marked with multiple ratings such as AB, BC, ABC. It is recommended that most homes have an ABC fire extinguisher for general use and a BC fire extinguisher for kitchen/garage use.

6) Where do fire extinguishers need to be installed?
The National Fire Protection Association recommends you have at least one extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living area. Fire extinguishers should be installed on every level of the home and in the kitchen, garage and basement. Locate in plain sight, but out of the reach of small children. Place near an escape route, and away from stoves and heating appliances. They should also be installed in your car, boat and RV.

7) Is there a way to tell if my fire extinguisher needs replacing?
Check the pressure gauge and inspect the extinguisher once a month, or more frequently, if exposed to weather, or possible tampering. The pointer on the gauge must be in the green area to work properly.

8) How do you operate a fire extinguisher?
Fire extinguishers can limit property damage if used properly. Using the PASS method of fire extinguisher operation helps effectively extinguish a fire before it spreads. When using the following procedure make sure your back is to an exit, and stand six to eight feet away from the fire. P-Pull the pin A-Aim at the base of the fire, staying at least 6 feet away. S-Squeeze the handle S-Sweep the base of the fire from side-to-side

9) Do I need fire escape ladders in my home?
Fire escape ladders should be in every occupied room with a window, on each floor above the main level.

10) How do I install a fire escape ladder? Where should fire escape ladders be stored?
They should be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions to fit the window. Escape ladders come packed in an easy to store box that fits neatly under a bed. They should be kept close to the window.

Wireless Technology FAQS


Q: What is the Kidde Wireless System?
A: The Kidde Wireless System is an interconnected system that links smoke alarms and accessories together so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound. This provides more warning in more places, giving families more time to escape a fire.

Q: What products are included with the Kidde Wireless System?
A: The Kidde Wireless System currently includes three components: a wireless battery-powered smoke alarm, an AC-powered smoke alarm and a wireless SmokeSounder. These components work together to enable homeowners to customize their family's fire protection system based on their individual needs.

Q: How are the alarms and accessories connected?
A: The Kidde Wireless System components communicate via radio frequency waves, similar to other consumer products such as cell phones, walkie-talkies and garage door openers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently stated radio frequency is one of two of the most promising wireless technologies for linking smoke alarms.

Q:Why did Kidde choose Radio Frequency over other wireless technologies?
A: Extensive research indicated that radio frequency would most effectively enable homeowners to quickly and easily install an interconnected system, or expand their current system at a relatively low cost.

Q: How is the Kidde Wireless System different from a traditional smoke alarm system?
A: Conventional smoke alarm systems must be wired into a home's electrical system in order to be interconnected, and are usually installed during a home's construction. To retrofit a conventional interconnected alarm system into an existing home can involve extensive time and labor costs for rewiring. The Kidde Wireless System provides any home with the advanced level of protection of an interconnected system � when one alarm sounds they all sound.

Q: How do I tell if my home has an interconnected system?
A: Testing to see if your home's smoke alarms are interconnected is easy. Simply press the test button on one of your smoke alarms; if every alarm in the home sounds, then your alarms are interconnected. If only the alarm that you're testing sounds, then you do not have interconnected smoke alarms. Keep in mind that just because a smoke alarm is hardwired doesn't mean it's interconnected.


Q: What is the furthest distance through which the units can communicate?
A: Every home presents obstacles that can affect the transmission efficiency of a wireless system. However, extensive field-testing has shown that the Kidde Wireless System is very capable of transmitting in all reasonable environments. It is always important to test wireless units after installation to make sure they work properly.

Q: Should homeowners be concerned with this system interfering with other wireless systems in the home?
A: No. The Kidde Wireless System transmits on a band that the Federal Communications Commission has dedicated to industrial, scientific or medical equipment. The band's regulations limit transmission times and power unless a life safety alarm occurs. Therefore, the band is mostly silent.

Q: What about my neighbor's wireless systems?
A: All Kidde wireless alarms are programmed with a unique code to prevent a neighbor's alarm system from activating other systems. There are 256 different identification settings for each alarm system.

Q: How will I know which unit initiated the alarm?
A: Kidde Wireless smoke alarms are equipped with an initiating alarm memory. The wireless smoke alarm that first detects the hazard and initiates the response will have a flashing green LED as well as sound an alarm. The other smoke alarms triggered by the initiating alarm will also sound, but will not have a green flashing LED.

Q: Do you have to change the batteries more often in a wireless smoke alarm?
A: Kidde's battery-operated wireless smoke alarms meet UL requirements --meaning the battery must provide power for at least one year under normal operation. However, Kidde recommends testing the alarms monthly and changing batteries as needed. The smoke alarms have a low battery chirp that will signal when the battery needs to be replaced. The SmokeSounder will verbally alert you when its battery needs to be replaced.

Q: Who will benefit most from this technology?
A: Three types of homeowners will benefit most from a wireless smoke alarm system:

1. Families that live in homes built before 1993, or that do not have interconnected smoke alarms. More than 84 million homes in America do not have interconnected smoke alarms. The Kidde Wireless System allows these homes to have the most advanced level of protection available.

2. Families whose homes have interconnected smoke alarms, but that want more protection. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that every home have a smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every level. But nearly 15 million American homes do not have enough smoke alarms to meet that requirement. The Kidde Wireless System can help families expand their current system into rooms that are now under-protected.

3. Families with children, older adults or others who may need additional warning. Voice warnings can be more effective at waking children who sleep through the sound of a traditional smoke alarm, and a lower frequency tone can be more effective at waking those who cannot hear the alarm's tone due to high frequency hearing loss [often age-related]. The Kidde Wireless SmokeSounder has a loud voice that clearly states the danger present, followed by a low frequency alert. It has been specifically designed to provide additional warning for those most at risk. Furthermore a caregiver can place the SmokeSounder in their bedroom for more warning and more time to help their family.

Q: Why should a homeowner choose wireless over traditional smoke alarms?
A: A family has only three minutes from the time the first smoke alarms sounds to escape a house fire. The sooner you hear the smoke alarm, the more time you have to escape. If smoke alarms are not interconnected, a family on the second floor may not hear the alarm beeping on the first floor. The Kidde Wireless System links smoke alarms together so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound, providing more warning in more places, and giving a family more time to escape.


Q: How does the cost of the Kidde Wireless System relate to that of a hardwired interconnected system?
A: New homes must have interconnected smoke alarms, and the cost of wiring that system is incorporated into the overall construction cost of the home. However, families that want to add a traditional, hardwired, interconnected system to an existing home will incur substantial costs due to the time and labor for rewiring. The CPSC has stated that wireless technology is a lower cost alternative to installing interconnected smoke alarms when retrofitting is involved.

Q: How easy is this product to install?
A: Installation is relatively simple. The battery-powered alarms can be installed in any room in a matter of minutes � no wiring required. You simply screw the mounting bracket into the ceiling just as you would a traditional smoke alarm. The AC� powered smoke alarm can be used to extend an existing interconnected system or to upgrade hardwired alarms into a wireless interconnected system. The adaptors sold with the unit make it simple to replace existing hardwired units with wireless smoke alarms. The SmokeSounder simply plugs into any electrical outlet anywhere in the bedroom or other room. Its battery backup feature offers protection during power outages.

Q: Are all of these products UL-Listed?
A: Both smoke alarms are UL listed to the UL217 smoke alarm standard. The SmokeSounder's power supply is also UL listed.

Q: Why is the SmokeSounder a critical part of my home fire safety system?
A: On average, a family will have three minutes from the time a smoke alarm activates to escape a house fire. Due to the lower frequency and voice warning, a SmokeSounder, in conjunction with a Kidde wireless smoke alarm, provides additional means of notifying individuals, particularly children and older adults, in the event of a fire.

Q: Does the lower frequency mean it is not as loud?
A: No, it means that the SmokeSounder's pitch is lower than the pitch of a traditional smoke alarm. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the sound of a traditional smoke alarm -- about 3500-4000 Hz -- may be too high to awaken those with high-frequency hearing loss. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that lowering an alarm's frequency to less than 2000 Hz may make the sound more audible for a larger percentage of older adults. The Kidde SmokeSounder has a frequency of 1000 Hz.

Q: Does the SmokeSounder detect smoke or fire?
A: The SmokeSounder will not detect smoke or fire. It must be used in conjunction with one of the wireless smoke alarms.


Q: When will the Kidde Wireless system be in stores?
A: June 2005. Eventually, you will be able to find it wherever Kidde products currently are sold. Fire experts recommend a smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every floor. For example, for a family with two children, in a two-story home with three bedrooms, the need for wireless units might vary widely:

Situation A: Battery-powered smoke alarms on each level of the home. Purchase a Kidde Wireless Smoke Alarm to replace each current smoke alarm, and additional Kidde Wireless Smoke Alarms for bedrooms that need protection. For extra warning, plug a SmokeSounder into an electrical outlet in both children's rooms, and perhaps the master bedroom.

Situation B: Hardwired smoke alarms on each level of the home. Purchase one Kidde Wireless AC-powered Smoke Alarm for every current smoke alarm and replace each. In addition, purchase Kidde Wireless battery-powered smoke alarms for installation in bedrooms and other rooms that need protection. For extra warning, plug a SmokeSounder into an electrical outlet in both children's rooms, and perhaps the master bedroom.

Situation C: Hardwired, Interconnected smoke alarms . Purchase only one Kidde Wireless AC-powered smoke alarm and use it to replace only one existing smoke alarm. The wireless smoke alarm acts as a bridge between the home's current system and Kidde Wireless products. You may then purchase additional Kidde Wireless battery-powered smoke alarms for bedrooms that need protection. For extra warning, plug a SmokeSounder into an electrical outlet in both children's rooms, and perhaps the master bedroom.

Q: What is the lifespan of Kidde Wireless products?
A: 10 years
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