How old are the smoke detectors in your home? Any smoke detector more than 10 years old should be replaced since the sensor may be worn out. How long would it take your family to leave the house if a fire occurred at night? Recent research has found that once a smoke detector sounds your family may have only about 3 minutes to escape safely.
To raise awareness about fire safety tips like these that save lives, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) updated five fact sheets for consumers in time for National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 3-9, 2004. The single-page fact sheets included information on wood stoves, fireplaces and space heaters; smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; electrical safety; home fire sprinklers; and emergency planning for escaping home fires. The fact sheets were originally prepared in conjunction with the U.S. Fire Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
NIST fire researchers conduct experiments in a broad range of areas, from testing the performance of smoke detectors and sprinklers to investigating the fireproofing materials used in the World Trade Center buildings. Special facilities at the Institute's Gaithersburg, MD, laboratories can be used for full-scale fire tests that simulate real-life conditions. For example, a series of tests found that a fire caused by an ignited holiday tree engulfed a living room in flames in just 45 seconds. Other recent experiments showed that a fire ignited in one mocked-up house structure spread to a second structure six feet away in less than five minutes.
For copies of the five fact sheets, visit www.fire.nist.gov/factsheets.