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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

 

How can I prevent copper thieves from wreaking havoc on my business?

As a business owner every part of your business is something that you have worked hard for and take great pride in.  With that being said, then why do you wait until it’s too late to protect your most valued possessions?

Dave, a small business owner from Cincinnati Ohio, just asked me the same question after thieves wreaked havoc on his business by taking all of the wire, copper, and air conditioning unit from the fenced in area in the back of his building.  Lucky for Dave one of his employees caught the thieves and they were taken into police custody.  However, the damage had already been done to his business as well as several other business in the area and now these business will be spending thousands of dollars to fix, replace or repair what it only took minutes for someone to destroy.

The would be copper thieves are not just hitting small business either.  They are also targeting churches, hotels, farms and schools.  In the recent past, one Alabama church had its air conditioning units stolen twice in 10 days. Each time, thieves got about $300 worth of copper, and the church had to pay more than $3,000 for replacements. A church in Detroit, Michigan, spent more than $50,000 to replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units damaged by copper thieves.

At this point your probably asking yourself how you can prevent or detour this from happening to your business right?  Well there are several solutions.

1)  If your business has an outside storage area like Dave’s make sure that the area is well light.  I know that seems obvious, but most thieves think if there is a risk of them being caught they will move on to another business that they may not be caught as easily.

2) Make sure that the exterior of your building has a security camera system.  If thieves should wreak havoc on your business you need to make sure you have something of forensic evidence to give to the authorities.

3) Have your alarm company install a motion sensor on your air conditioning unit so if it is being tampered with an alarm will sound and the police will be dispatched right away. Plus the would be thieves are likely to leave without your air conditioner if the alarm sounds instead of trying to continue stealing it.

4) Make sure your tools, ladders and step stools are placed inside the building each night.  You don’t want to make it easier for the thieves to have access to your assets.

If you would like to talk more about protecting your business from would be thieves wreaking havoc on your business talk to your safety coordinator or call American Fire & Security at 877-237-8918.

Stay Safe!

The Security Girl

The destruction left behind by copper thieves.

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