False alarms lull residents into false sense of safety

    A fire at a Philadelphia Housing Authority high-rise apartment building earlier this week surprised residents who say false alarms at the site are common. No residents died, but the blaze sent two firefighters to the hospital, one in serious condition.

    Moe Jones has lived at the North Philadelphia high-rise his whole life. He said he’s used to ignoring false alarms. But when an alarm woke him up early Wednesday morning, this time, he saw smoke, and fled the building.

    “I’m gonna leave out, cause I’d rather be safe than sorry. Everything happens for a reason that was like a sign. Cause a lot of people never came out now they will, cause they know it’s for real,” said Jones.

    False alarms, and nuisance alarms are common. But their causes could come as a surprise. Heather Caldwell is with Kidde, a company that manufactures smoke alarms. Caldwell says having a spider crawl into the alarm could set it off, or produce those annoying little chirps.

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    “A pretty common cause of false alarms are insects or dust, and again shower steam if you have an alarm located close to a bathroom,” explained Caldwell.

    Caldwell added the best way to prevent a false alarm is to clean the smoke detector with a duster, or vacuum. Nuisance alarms are caused by actual smoke produced from such things as burnt toast.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing smoke detectors 20 feet away from cooking appliances.

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