New smoke alarms improve safety -


New smoke alarms safer

New smoke detectors on the market promise to give you more time to get out of a burning home.

Firefighters say every second counts, and new tools on the market today could make a big difference in getting people to safety.

An interconnected wireless system is designed to add that extra protection.

"It can make a big difference between life and death," said Cape Girardeau Fire Department Battalion Chief Brian Shaffer.

With the help of the Cape Girardeau Fire Department in Missouri, we mounted one of the new devices in an abandoned home.

They started a fire, and within a couple of seconds the alarm went off.

We placed the second detector upstairs. As soon as the lower level alarm sounded, it immediately triggered the upper level one.

"These can give you several seconds, if not minutes, notice," said Shaffer.

"That will really reduce the risk of getting caught by heavy smoke," said John Sachen, a senior fire instructor with the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute. 

Firefighters say there's an even greater concern because modern furniture and new construction homes burn even faster.

"Synthetic materials (in new furniture) have crude oil," said Sachen. "The result is a fire today can ramp up in two to three minutes."

Some newer home construction materials might be stronger, but burn quicker. Firefighters say that gives you even less time to get out. That also poses concerns for firefighters who enter homes with floors that could collapse. 

"These wireless alarms could make a big difference," said Shaffer. 

The idea is, if there's a fire in the basement you'll know within moments upstairs.

Firefighters say there is nothing wrong with the smoke detectors you may currently have in your home. These new devices would simply be an upgrade if it's something you choose to do.

We know of at least one company that makes the wireless system. Kidde makes the battery-powered interconnected wireless system and there are reports that others are in the works.

The alarms are about three times the cost of a conventional smoke detector. We found them for about $30 a piece at Lowe's.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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