I get asked this question a lot: How can I be sure that my home is as safe as possible?
Be sure to have Smoke Detectors: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation, maintenance and testing. In general, you need to have at least 1 smoke detector for each level of your home [and that includes a basement] and outside each sleeping area. You need to test each detector monthly and replace all batteries once a year or sooner, if the power is low. [And you’ll know when they are getting low – just listen for that pleasant chirp!]
Fire Extinguishers: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation, maintenance and use. In general, keep at least 1 multipurpose [ABC] fire extinguisher handy. Install it near an escape path. Make sure that everyone knows how to use it properly. [You can contact your ‘neighborhood’ fire department to see if it offers training].
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation, maintenance and testing. In general, have at least 1 CO detector in your home. [Install CO detectors near sleeping areas]. Know the difference in alarm sounds between the CO detector(s) and your smoke detector(s). CO detectors do not take the place of smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide is a deadly colorless gas. Burning things produce it. It can build up inside quickly, EVEN with doors and windows open. So never use unvented fuel-burning sources inside, like grills or generators.
A Family Fire Escape Plan: Believe it or not, this is where most people roll their eyes and smirk. But, again, training and practice are what makes this work – for anyplace and anywhere. In general, have 2 escape paths from each room. Mark one as the primary exit and the other as the alternate. NEVER USE AN ELEVATOR IN A FIRE. Make sure everyone in the home can easily unlock and open doors and windows used for escape. [Doors and windows with security bars must have quick-release devices if used for escape.] AND hold fire drills regularly [at least twice a year] to practice your plan.
In Case Of Fire: Have everyone leave the building. Then call (or have someone call) the fire department. Fight the fire ONLY if it’s small and not spreading - - and you have a clear escape path. WHEN IN DOUBT, GET OUT!
Respond To All Alarms: Train your family to treat all alarms seriously. Safety measures should be followed even you know it’s a drill.
Do you see a pattern here? Always follow…don’t just put the systems up and say OK now I’m safe. Make sure that you’ve done it according to what’s correct and that you know how to use it safely and test or maintain it as it needs to be.
Next week, we’ll discuss the decision to Stay Put or to Go Away.