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Essential Guide on How to Dispose Off Smoke Detectors Carefully

How to Dispose of Smoke Detectors
Rules regarding disposal of smoke detectors are pretty stringent, and rightfully so. Their highly toxic contents are deemed hazardous, which means you have to make sure that you get rid of them in the prescribed manner. Here's how you do it.
Renuka Savant
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Smoke detectors are those gadgets which never get any attention unless... well, we're all aware of the exact moments when they make their otherwise oblivious presence felt with their characteristic beeps. Funnily enough, when asked about our favorite inventions, we never think twice about naming our cell phones, tabs or computers, and remain blissfully unmindful of the one little thing that is undoubtedly the most useful.
Reportedly, around two-thirds of the deaths resulting from household fires have occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm; so, one can never underestimate the importance of a functional smoke detector. Smoke detectors may be doing the priceless job of alerting us when there's a fire at home; but, seriously, how many of us pay attention to maintaining it or even checking it? Besides the annual or biannual battery change ritual, not many are aware that we need to replace our smoke detectors every eight to ten years. And, when it is time to replace them, we can't just throw the old ones into the trash as they contain hazardous material.
Ionization and photoelectric smoke detector
Smoke alarms usually come in two variations, ionization and photoelectric, each being differently capable of detecting smoke. These days, we have alarms with dual sensors that incorporate both technologies to maximize the effectiveness. Smoke detectors mostly contain alkaline or lithium batteries and electronic circuit boards, which need to be recycled appropriately, whereas ionization alarms contain traces of the radioactive element, Americium-241.
What it does is that it releases particles that are instrumental in detecting smoke in the area. It is present in a compartment within the plastic casing, so it can cause no harm when it is installed in homes; however, safety measures must be followed while disposing it. Disposal of smoke detectors should be done carefully to prevent radioactive material from polluting our landfills.
Household Smoke Detectors: Points to Remember
Smoke detector in home
» According to the Fire Protection Agency rules, smoke detectors are potential health hazards if they are not disposed off carefully.

» By law, manufacturing companies are supposed to label their products with warnings regarding their hazardous nature due to the presence of radioactive material. This is to make users aware that they should be disposed only at a nuclear waste disposal center.
» Another option is to return the device to the manufacturer, who would then responsibly recycle or dispose it. Extreme caution should be taken while returning a smoke alarm to the manufacturer.

» While returning it, do not open the device or fidget with its components. Wrap it in paper or bubble wrap, place it in a box and seal it before dispatching.
» In case the unit cannot be returned to the manufacturer, you can give it to a Household Waste Facility in your town.

» State laws regarding disposal of smoke alarms vary, so update yourself about the rules in yours.
Disposing Smoke Detectors With Radioactive Material
Installing smoke detector at home
» The first step is to take the smoke detector apart as different components need to be disposed separately. Ensure that you are wearing protective rubber gloves before you begin.

» You must remove the batteries from the device and recycle them as per your regional laws.

» The plastic casing needs to be removed now. You can recycle this as regular plastic.

» The remaining contents should be wrapped and then sealed into a box. Never try to compress the unit or crush it.

» Make sure to return it by UPS ground mail only. You are strictly recommended against sending it by airmail.
For some, this entire exercise may seem like a troublesome chore, but you must remember that it needs to be done after long intervals. The humble old smoke detector is the appliance that works nonstop to ensure that our homes remain protected from being ravaged in fires. Maintaining a device that does so much for our well-being shouldn't require a lot of encouragement, should it?