Monthly Archives: May 2016

Alarms Can Save Lives

By the time flames are roaring through a house, it may be too late to stop the fire. Even worse, it may be too late to safely get your family out of your burning home. Fires can start and spread quickly, often while you’re asleep. So to protect yourself and your family from fires, install a smoke alarm in every crucial area of your home.

Buying a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm, also called a smoke detector, can sense a fire early on and warn a family of impending danger before tragedy strikes.

Smoke alarms are sold at hardware and home improvement stores, and even some supermarkets. You might even be able to get a free smoke alarm from your local fire department.

You can buy a smoke alarm that runs only on battery power or one that is wired into the electrical system of your house and runs on electricity with a battery backup. Above all, each smoke alarm you buy must carry the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label on it.

There are three types of smoke alarms on the market:

  • Ionization smoke alarm. This alarm detects big, open flames.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarm. This alarm detects a smoky fire that’s smoldering, before any big flames get started.
  • Dual sensor smoke alarm. This is a combination smoke alarm that detects both types of fires.

You should have both an ionization and a photoelectric smoke alarm, or a dual sensor smoke alarm. And, remember, you will need smoke alarms at multiple sites throughout your home.

Installing a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm tucked in a far corner of your home might not detect smoke from the opposite end of the house until it’s too late. So it’s important to install a smoke alarm on each floor of your home — don’t forget your basement — and at strategic areas on each level if you have a lot of square footage. Install a smoke detector near sleeping areas, even inside the bedroom of any household member who is difficult to arouse from sleep, and put another one in your kitchen. Install them high up on walls, near the ceiling, since smoke will rise quickly.

Preventing House Fires

Keeping Your Home Safe From Fire

Many house fires start because of carelessness and can be prevented by taking simple fire safety measures to protect your home. Follow these fire safety tips to reduce the risk of house fires:

  • Be careful in the kitchen. Fire safety and prevention is especially important in the kitchen, so keep kitchen appliances unplugged when you’re not using them (of course, that goes for appliances elsewhere in the house, too). Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop, and keep flammable items away from the stovetop.
  • Use heaters wisely. Have your furnace or heating system inspected annually, and avoid potentially dangerous causes of fire like kerosene heaters. Always use a screen in front of an indoor fireplace to keep flames away from furniture and drapes, and be cautious when using space heaters — follow all directions to the letter.
  • Be vigilant about cigarettes. If you or a guest in your home is a smoker, watch those butts. Always use a deep, sturdy ashtray. For fire safety, never smoke cigarettes in bed. And before bed or heading out the door, do a quick scan around and under the furniture and linens to make sure there are no still-lit cigarette butts.
  • Clear up the clutter. Don’t let highly flammable materials clutter up your home. Regularly clean out old newspapers, magazines, and other things likely to quickly catch and spread a fire.
  • Go easy on electrical outlets. Never plug too many appliances into one outlet, and don’t use extension cords permanently. Don’t use light bulbs that are too powerful for the lamp or fixture.
  • Blow out the candles. Only light candles in a room where you can keep an eye on them, and never leave a room with a candle burning. Blow out all candles before bed or leaving the house, and use candles with a sturdy base that aren’t likely to fall over.

Preventing Outdoor Fires

Fires that happen outside the home can quickly become house fires if you don’t take care to stop the spread and protect your home:

  • Practice safe grilling:
    • Always keep a fire extinguisher or a hose near the grill.
    • Never grill indoors, not even in your garage.
    • Don’t use gasoline to get a fire going.
    • Always store and use a barbeque grill at least 15 feet away from your home, car, garage, trees, and shrubs.
    • Keep propane gas tanks away from the home.
    • Never spray lighter fluid onto an existing fire.
  • Practice fire-safe landscaping:
    • Keep the landscaping around your home thin to prevent fueling any fires.
    • Don’t store firewood near your home.
    • Landscape with fire-resistant shrubs and plants.
    • Avoid small shrubs and trees beneath or near larger trees.
    • Clear any dead trees, shrubs, leaves, and plants away from your home.

Emergency Preparedness Plan

When you hear about areas of the country ravaged by disaster, do you stop to wonder if your family would be prepared in such an emergency? If a flood, earthquake, tornado, or other disaster strikes your home and family, would you know what to do? Any number of natural disasters can strike, but your risk for certain disasters will depend on where you live. An emergency preparedness plan can protect your family and prevent panic and potential tragedy.

Can Your Family Handle a Disaster?

Answering these four questions will quickly tell you if your family is prepared to handle an emergency situation:

  • Do you have a family emergency plan for bad weather, fire, and other emergency situations?
  • Do you have emergency supplies on hand, including flashlights, batteries, a radio, water, and non-perishable foods?
  • Do you have a designated safe area in your home to go to during an emergency?
  • Does each member of your family know what to do in case of an emergency?

If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, it’s time to sit down with the whole family and map out a preparedness plan.

Emergency Supplies You Need

Emergency preparedness isn’t only about supplies, but they are a big part of being ready when disaster strikes. Here is a list of essentials that you should have packed and stored in a safe place in your home in case you need them:

  • Plenty of bottled water
  • Non-perishable, low- or no-salt food items
  • Can opener
  • Clothing and shelter items like blankets, sleeping bags, and a tent
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes for clean up
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights, a portable radio, and lots of batteries
  • Infant and pet supplies, if necessary
  • All medications, and glasses or contact lenses
  • Implements for preparing and cooking food, as well as plates, and utensils
  • Matches stored in a water-tight box
  • Copies of your bank and credit cards, driver’s license, and other ID cards
  • Cash

Make sure you have enough supplies, particularly food and water, for at least three days. Allow at least one gallon of water per day for each family member.

Prepare your car, too, with an emergency supply of food and water, a first aid kit, jumper cables, flares, and blankets to keep warm.