Causal Rewrite-Lbirch

Smoke Detectors: The Source of Fire

Smoke detectors are an essential tool for your household safety, just like your home’s security system. Detectors play a huge role in fire safety, alerting an occupant when there is smoke in a building or house and allowing them enough time to exit without harm. Detectors seem to be easy to install, and are thought to require little to no care or attention. But with that belief, most detectors can become faulty and do not operate, or can even lead to a risk of starting a fire itself. Shorted wires or bad batteries can all be leading causes of these detectors catching fire, and both of these people do not check regularly. Without the appropriate maintenance of the detectors in your home, it is possible that the thing that alerts you of a fire is actually the cause of the fire.

The biggest risk a homeowner can take is not having a detector in their house at all. An alarming statistic by the National Fire Protection Agency states, “Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” They also state that there were no smoke alarms in more than a third of household fire deaths. In an article by Battery Universitythe author discusses safety concerns of lithium batteries and times where they have failed. “In 2006, a one-in-200,000 breakdown triggered a recall of almost six million lithium-ion packs. Sony, the maker of the lithium-ion cells in question, points out that on rare occasion microscopic metal particles may come into contact with other parts of the battery cell, leading to a short circuit within the cell…” These types of batteries, lithium ions, are the same being used in the detectors in houses today. Non-certified batteries, like the Sony ones, are a concern to many detector makers because they are not the intended battery of use.

The safest home is protected by detectors using fresh, intact, certified batteries that are regularly inspected. According to Arthur Lee’s report for the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, detector makers have made many improvements for these devices in recent years. Detectors can now be found with the battery life of up to 10 years. Cable Organized discusses maintenance of detectors to ensure they perform correctly in the worst situations. You must clean all detectors of dust and contaminant build-up at least twice a year. You must also replace all detectors at least every 10 years, and change batteries yearly while testing them monthly. These are all the best ways to prevent any unwanted false alarms, or worse, no detection of a house fire. On the other side of battery-operated detectors are hard-wired detectors. As it should be noted, hard-wired detectors also use batteries, but only as a backup power source. The main source of power, however, uses wires. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year in the United States.

Electrical distribution systems, including the power source cable into the home, the circuit breaker boxes, and the wires supplying current to all electrical fixtures, are the third leading cause of home structure fires. Therefore, it bears investigating how wired smoke detectors might contribute to a fire catastrophe. An article published by CRM Risk lists many ways wiring can start a fire. Physical damage to wires leading to smoke detectors can cause fire at the device; even correct installations can also become damaged or deteriorate with age; overloaded circuits, especially those mishandled amateur home installers, or that use with large fuses and circuit breakers can result in overheated wires, the breakdown of insulation and eventual short circuits. All are intensified by an overuse of electrical devices, leading to the sad but inevitable conclusion that “more smoke detectors make a home fire more likely.”

Structure fires are already a concern for homeowners and to add to their worries, a safety device that has been known to help may turn into a time bomb. The wrong wiring or a bad battery could possibly turn this safety device into a fiery piece of plastic. People should not need to worry about this device along with the many other things in a home. But you may need to be concerned about even the most object, like a smoke detector.

 

References

BU-304a: Safety Concerns with Li-ion. (2018, January 4). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/safety_concerns_with_li_ion 

Common Causes of Electrical Fires. (2012, December). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://cmrris.com/news-manufacturing-details/20/common-causes-of-electrical-fires.html

Home Electrical Fires. (2015, February 4). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://www.esfi.org/resource/home-electrical-fires-184

How to Maintain Smoke Alarms. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from Cable Organizer, https://www.cableorganizer.com/articles/smoke-alarm-maintenance.html

Lee, A. (2002, June 28). Preliminary Test Results on Lithium Batteries Used In Resident Smoke Alarms. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/lithiumfinal.PDF

Reports and statistics about smoke alarms. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from National Fire Protection Agency, https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Smoke-alarms/Reports-and-statistics-about-smoke-alarms

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5 Responses to Causal Rewrite-Lbirch

  1. davidbdale says:

    Grammar and Style Note
    You’re not good with pronouns, LB. Many writers share your problem. You can learn the rules, but if the problems don’t sound “out of tune” to you naturally, you probably will continue to make mistakes of number disagreement and 2nd-person language.

    Luckily, you can easily avoid most of the problems by eliminating the pronouns. Your first-paragraph problems:

    Smoke detectors are an essential tool for your household safety, just like your home’s security system. Detectors play a huge role in fire safety, alerting an occupant when there is smoke in a building or house and allowing them enough time to exit without harm. Without the appropriate maintenance of the detectors in your home, it is possible that the thing that alerts you of a fire is actually the cause of the fire.

    The same text without the problem-causing pronouns:

    Smoke detectors are an essential tool for household safety, just like home security systems. Detectors play a huge role in fire safety, alerting occupants when there is smoke in a building or house and allowing them enough time to exit without harm. Without the appropriate maintenance of home smoke detectors, it is possible that the device that signals there’s a fire is actually the cause of the fire.

    Check the rest of your paragraphs for similar problems. I call sentences that contain unnecessary people “overpopulated.” Depopulated sentences are less problematic.

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  2. davidbdale says:

    Logic note.
    Clarity of language does not come easily, I know. We so easily say things that sound reasonable in conversation but that are difficult to justify in writing.

    But with that belief, most detectors can become faulty and do not operate, or can even lead to a risk of starting a fire itself.

    —According to your sentence, detectors have beliefs. They believe, apparently, that they can be installed without care.
    —Also according to your sentence, they can cause not just a fire but the very fire you haven’t named earlier. It’s confusing.

    Of course, I do understand what you mean in both cases. But the time it takes to parse your meaning detracts from the attention I should be paying to your argument, and since our only authority is in our voices, even small errors can cost us credibility.

    Yes, it’s picky. I’m telling you because you’re a generally careful writer who might care about being better. I wouldn’t bother otherwise: a sign of respect.

    How to fix them?

    But with that belief, installers can get sloppy, and less-than-professional installations can themselves lead to spontaneous fires.

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  3. davidbdale says:

    What should I do next? Do you want more granular advice about small style details? Or an overall assessment of your global effectiveness?

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  4. davidbdale says:

    P1. Reduced to its essence:
    Although they are indispensable to home safety, smoke detectors are not risk-free and can even cause fires.

    P2. Reduced to its essence: Can’t do it. Too many topics and sub-topics:

    Idea 1. Having no detector is deadly.
    —Your statistics are in conflict. Either 3/5 of home fire deaths or 1/3 of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms. Which is it?

    Idea 2.Lithium ion batteries can short-circuit.
    —You minimize your own statistic by emphasizing that trouble occurs once in every 200,000 batteries.
    —Meanwhile, the fact that the trouble prompted a recall of 6,000,000 battery packs is not explored.The trouble must be PRETTY SEVERE to prompt such an apparent OVERREACTION. Do they burst into flames when they short-circuit? We want to know.

    Idea 3. The right batteries, well-maintained, minimizes risk, maximizes protection.
    —This doesn’t belong in the same paragraph as Ideas 1 and 2. They’re about Battery Risks. This one is about Battery Safety.

    Idea 4. Hard-wired detectors, considered the more reliable alternative to battery detectors, are still not risk-free.
    —This idea should be clearly stated in a paragraph of its own, even before you start your paragraph about “Electrical distribution systems.”

    Does that help, LB?

    P3. Reduced to its essence:
    Wired detectors can fail in many ways, often catastrophically.

    P4. Reduced to its essence:
    Even attempts to reduce risk sometimes carry their own risks.

    You might want to run a little analysis here, LB.
    Number of people who die in home fires without working smoke detectors is = X,XXX
    Suppose all of those people had used cheap, poorly installed smoke detectors.
    Percentage of those faulty detectors that might have failed when needed most = .X%
    Percentage of those faulty detectors that might have actually caused a fire = .0X%
    [Surely even bad detectors don’t fail more than a small percentage of the time, right? And certainly, compared to the deaths they prevent, detectors that cause fires are very few, right?]
    Therefore, the number of people who would have died if they had used even bad detectors, poorly installed = XX? In any event, a LOT FEWER than the X,XXX who did in fact die.

    See what I’m getting at?
    Instead of concluding with an ethical claim “People SHOULDN’T need to worry,” conclude with a practical, numerical claim instead.
    “Despite the miniscule risk that a detector could start a fire, statistics overwhelmingly favor installing smoke detectors on every floor. Even bad installations provide more protection than risk.”
    Does that make sense? It examines several cause/effect situations and draws an informed conclusion.

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