Fire Prevention Week: Don’t Wait to Check The Date: Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years

Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors have a life expectancy. Even if you perform regular maintenance and testing, which suggests they are still functioning correctly, you should always replace the unit(s) at the end of their useful life. And here is why…the test button only checks whether the alarm components and batteries are working, it does not check sensor capability. As they age, sensors begin to lose sensitivity. You want any alarm in your house to be at its peak sensing ability, to ensure your safety.

SMOKE DETECTORS: A smoke detector is an essential part of your fire protection plan. According to the NFPA, 3 of every 5 home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarm or a non-working one. A smoke detector has a life expectancy of 10 years unless otherwise suggested by the manufacturer. Any smoke detector in your home which is over 10 years old should be immediately replaced. It is important to note, older modeled smoke alarms have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better and should last a full 10 years. Replace any detector which continually beeps, even after a battery change.

When purchasing a new smoke detector it is a good practice to write the date of installation or the manufactured suggestion expiration date on the back of the detector in permanent marker. You should also complete a monthly test of your detector, replace all batteries twice a year (excluding units with a 10 year guaranteed lithium battery) and remove any dust or build up on your detectors regularly.

CO DETECTORS: Most CO detectors are good for 5-7 years, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. As with a smoke detector, CO detectors should be replaced once they have reached their life expectancy to ensure optimal protection.

Usually, the units have a date stamp on the back, showing the unit’s age and/or expiration date. Many systems are equipped with an alert, which will cause the system to chirp or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life (the signal differs from the one which indicates a low battery). Systems that have a digital reader may display an “ERR’, “E09” or “end” error code to alert you. Whichever system you purchase, read the owners’ manual to see what safety measures are specific to your make and model.

As with a smoke detector, it is essential that you check your system monthly and follow proper maintenance procedures. Remember, the test button will only indicate whether the alarm is working, not the sensor. To check the sensor, use a test kit, which you can purchase at a local home store.

If you would like to learn more about having professionally installed smoke and CO detectors in your home or business, please call GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111.

Winter Safety Tips

The winter weather, especially in the Northeast, is anything but friendly. Make sure you are prepared to safely ride out these next few months by:

Checking your smoke and Co (carbon monoxide) detectors monthly. Make sure your batteries have been changed in the last 6 months and that your system’s life expectancy has not been exceeded. (Generally, the life expectancy of a fire alarm is 10 years and a CO detector is 5-7 years.)
If you haven’t already done so, have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents. When storing cooled ash from your fireplace or wood-burning stove, place them in a sealed metal container and leave them outside, at least 10 feet from any structure.

Keeping portable generators outside the home and away from windows. You want your generator to be as far away from your house as possible.

Having a fire extinguisher in an accessible place and make sure everyone in your family knows how to use it properly.
Keeping anything flammable at least 3 feet from any heat source (such as: fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and space heaters). Do not plug more than one heat source into an electrical outlet at a time.
Making sure all tree branches are trimmed away from your house and any power-lines.
Having an emergency kit prepared in case of power outages and/or for not being able to leave your home for a few days due to poor weather conditions.

If you need your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors evaluated, maintained, or replaced call GCSI at (877) 589-6111 to schedule an appointment.

Security Industry Scam: Nothing Is Ever 100% Free

The other day, while sifting through my mail, I came upon a mailer from an alarm company offering me a “free” home security system. This isn’t the first time I have received such an offer (I get at least one a week), but it got me thinking…. When is free really free?

We all know for a business to be successful, it needs to make money. So, how are these security company’s making their money on these seemingly, too good to be true offers? I decided to look further into it and here is what I found:

It’s not exactly “free”!
Some of those “free” packages come with a hidden “installation fee”.

It is all in the packaging!
Most companies offering these deals have prepackaged alarm systems. If you delve deeper into what these packages consist of, you quickly realize the equipment offered will not fully secure your home. In addition to your free package, you then must purchase the additional items needed to make your system complete.

My contract says what?
Always remember to read the fine print. A lot of companies are luring consumers in with a low monthly monitoring rate. They sometimes fail to mention that this rate is only an introductory rate and will expire before the contract ends. Once the introductory rate expires your monthly rate can go up significantly.

Other companies have secretly built the equipment cost into your monthly “monitoring” payment. If they don’t offer you a full breakout of exactly what you are paying for monthly, this should raise a red flag. Another issue I found with some contracts is it is a long term agreement with major penalties and fees if you want to cancel.

Do they even make that anymore?
These types of deals are a great ways for companies to get rid of old inventory. While some older equipment is fine to use, you need to make sure it offers the latest in security technologies.

If you decide going with an older model will work for you at the moment, with plans to eventually upgrade, make sure there isn’t any hidden upgrade fees. I also found that an upgrade could extend the time of your contract with some companies.

What if I want to break up with you?
Many companies use exclusive or proprietary equipment. If this is the case, you are “stuck” with company for as long as you own the equipment. No other company can maintain or monitor the equipment. If you want to switch companies due to poor service or for any other reason, you will need to install all new equipment.

In conclusion, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you are interested in a fully customized, no hidden gimmicks, security system quote, call GCSI Security Group at (877) 589-6111. We make sure to treat all our clients like part of our family.