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How to dispose of your old smoke alarm

The two types of residential smoke alarms that are most commonly used in the United States are ionization and photoelectric. Photoelectric-type smoke alarms contain a very tiny amount of radioactive material.  Combination smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors, also contain a very tiny amount of radioactive material.  Although some state regulations allow you to simply throw these smoke alarms in the trash, you will still need to remove the batteries from the alarm.

How to tell if your smoke detector contains radioactive material: 

If a smoke detector contains radioactive material, it is required by law to have a warning label on the body of the smoke detector.  The label is usually located at the “top” of the detector, facing the mounting base that attaches to the ceiling or wall.  Remove the smoke detector from its base, and look at the label.  A typical label might read:

This product is designed to detect products of combustion using ionization technology.  It contains 0.9 microcurie of Americium 241, a radioactive material

The label may have the international symbol for radiation on the label.

International Radiation Symbol

If a smoke detector does not include either the warning or the radiation symbol on the label, and if there is no evidence that the label has been removed or destroyed, it is safe to assume that the device does not contain any radioactive material.  If the label has been removed or destroyed, it is best to treat the device as if it is an ionization unit, and dispose of it as described below.

Here are the three ways to dispose of your smoke alarms:

  1. If allowed in your area, remove the batteries and wrap the unit in newspaper.  You then are able to throw the smoke alarm in the trash.*
  2. If accepted in your area, take to a local Recycling Center, or take to a Hazardous Material Waste Center.*
  3. Ionization smoke alarms and combination smoke alarms can be sent back to the manufacturer.  They have the proper equipment to safely dispose of the smoke alarms.
*Please check with state or local municipal or household hazardous waste authorities. 
Caution: Ionization smoke alarms should never be opened.  If you are unable to get the batteries out of the alarm without opening it, please use option 2 or 3.

For more information on the proper disposal of smoke alarms please refer to one of the sites below or check with your state or local authorities.

U.S. Fire Administration

EPA

smoke alarm detector

 

Safe Management 101: Safe Tips for Every Business Owner

Security Safes are a great way to protect the valuable assets of your business.

Many business owners consider their safe to be a necessity, however once the safe is delivered they are not sure how to properly secure or maintain their safe and its belongings.

Below are a few tips for your business safe:

Anchor it:

Always bolt your safe down. While you may think there’s no way anyone will manage to wrangle the safe out of your busienss when it takes specialized machines and muscle to perform the installation, never underestimate the resourcefulness of highly determined burglars.

  • Concrete provides the most secure anchor, so it is the preferred surface for mounting your safe.
  • Always mount using 1/2” concrete bolts or larger, and use more than one bolt. Four mounting bolts are ideal.
  • When anchoring to a wood floor, whenever possible, anchor one or more bolts into a foundation support beam rather than just the plywood floor.

Watch for wall gaps:

When possible, avoid anchoring the safe near a foundation wall in a way that creates an 8” to 18” gap between the wall and safe. Gaps smaller than 8” are ok but with slightly larger gaps it is possible to leverage the safe away from the wall using a car jack, ripping the safe’s base anchor bolts out from the flooring.

Don’t keep your safe on day lock:

Day lock is a condition where the operator turns the dial only a few numbers back from the last digit in the combination.  This allows the operator to access the safe more quickly as they only have to dial in the last digit of the safe combination, however it makes it very easy for anyone to open the safe simply by moving the dial a coupe digits to the left or right.  Thieves are very aware that many safes are on day lock and can be opened in a few seconds.  Make it your policy always to spin the dial a full turn whenever you lock your safe.

Change the combination:

  • Make sure that your safe & vault installer changes the combination from the factory default setting.
  • Make sure that you change your safe combination every time a combination holder leaves your business.
  • Make sure that you change your safe combination every quarter to make sure nobody has accidentally discovered your safe combination.
  • Make sure you keep track of all the “combo holders” to your safe combination.
  • Make sure you have pictures and documentation of what is in your safe or vault in case an burglary should occur.

If you would like to talk more about evaluating your business safe talk to your safety coordinator or call American Fire & Security at 877-237-8918.

Stay Safe!

The Security Girl

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