Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13, provides a great opportunity to remind residents of the importance of replacing dated smoke detectors.
The Porter County Fire Association and the National Fire Protection Association recommend checking all smoke detectors every six months to ensure they are in working order. They also recommend replacing smoke detectors every 10 years. Residents should contact their local fire departments with any questions or visit nfpa.org.
Expired and non-working smoke detectors can be recycled in Porter County. Thanks to Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction and its partnerships with a number of fire and EMS agencies, old smoke detectors can be conveniently dropped off for recycling at these locations: Chesterton Fire Department, 702 Broadway; Porter Fire Department, 550 Beam St.; Valparaiso Fire Department Station 2, 2605 Cumberland Dr.; Ogden Dunes Fire Department, 111 Hillcrest Rd.; Lakes of the Four Seasons Volunteer Fire Force Inc., 10645 Randolph St., Suite D, Winfield; South Haven Fire Dept., 398 West 700 North, Valparaiso; Hebron Fire Department, 109 North Washington St.; and Porter EMS Station #3, 453 West State Rd. 8, Hebron.
Residents can also recycle smoke detectors at either public compost site: Valparaiso, 2150 W. Lincolnway, or Boone Grove, 546 South 400 West.
Visit www.PorterCountyRecycling.org for additional details on the accessibility of the drop-off sites or call Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction, 465-3694.
Many smoke detectors use small amounts of radioactive material, americium-241, to detect smoke. Porter County Recycling sends the detectors it collects to Curie Environmental Services where the americium-241 is segregated and sent to a special waste fill. The hard plastic case and remaining metals are recycled and diverted from the solid waste stream.
According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission website, smoke detectors are very safe; “A 2001 NRC study found people with two of these units in their homes receive less than 0.002 millirems of radiation dose each year. That dose can be compared to the background radiation that people receive from space and the earth.”
“While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says smoke detectors do not pose a health threat as long as they are not tampered with and used as directed, the state of the detectors will be compromised when placed in our waste stream because the chances they will be crushed during collection, transport and burial are great,” said Therese Haller, Porter County Recycling executive director.
“The recycling program ensures the radioactive material is managed properly without any potential negative effects to humans or the environment,” she added.
Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction is an agency dedicated to improving the environment and quality of life by providing services and educational programs which help residents reduce, reuse, and recycle.