Smart homes aren't smart without fire sprinklers

(BPT) - Today there are many automated options that make homes more comfortable, energy efficient, cost-effective and safe. Typically referred to as smart home technology, these features may include automating control of items such as lighting, temperature, window shades, surveillance cameras, locks, smoke alarms, even pet feeders. Often, these features have smartphone apps that allow the homeowner to control them from anywhere.

There is one technology that is so smart it can save the lives of everyone in the home, including pets. It works independently and an app is not needed: home fire sprinklers. Smoke alarms warn you if there is smoke in your home, but your escape depends on your hearing the alarm and your ability to act on it. Fire sprinklers are smart because they automatically control or put out the fire quickly so everyone can get out of the home safely.

Each sprinkler has a temperature-sensitive component, often a glass bulb that works like a plug. If a fire starts, the high heat from the fire, usually between 135-165 degrees Fahrenheit, breaks the bulb, allowing the water to flow onto the fire. Typically, only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates, not the entire system. Smoke from burnt food or smoking materials can’t activate the system, only high heat.

The sprinklers are typically connected to the household water main. Where there is no city water supply or well water available, a tank and pump can be used for the water supply. Piping is hidden behind walls and ceilings. One or two sprinklers can usually protect an average size room. Home fire sprinklers are small and inconspicuous. There are several kinds of sprinklers made for residential use, some of which can be hidden behind cover plates. Some sprinkler companies will offer custom-painted options to match your home's decor.

Fire sprinklers are smart because today’s fires are faster and deadlier

Fires today are faster and deadlier. A house fire can become deadly in less than two minutes. Why? Because most items in our homes are made of synthetic materials that burn quickly and produce deadly, poisonous smoke. There’s a danger associated with new construction homes built with unprotected, lightweight building materials that burn faster and fail more quickly in a fire, collapsing in less than half the time of older construction material. Large open layouts (as opposed to smaller rooms with closing doors) also enable faster flashover during a fire.

Could everyone in your family escape a fire if it happened in your home?

A home fire occurs every 87 seconds, with 74% of all fire deaths in the home (NFPA 2018). Everyone is susceptible to these fires, but older adults and people with disabilities are at greatest risk. Recent trends in U.S. housing show that more homes are becoming multi-generational, with around 64 million people living together with two or more generations under one roof (Pew 2018). And today 67% of households own a pet (APPA 2019). Two minutes is not much time for everyone to escape a deadly fire.

Home fire sprinklers are dependable. They not only save lives; they can also protect your property and possessions, and limit fire and water damage. Because of this added benefit, most insurers offer sprinkler discounts that lower your homeowners’ premiums.

Learn the facts about home fire sprinklers from the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, which offers free information and resources about fire safety.

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