When it comes to safety, nothing is more important to protect than your family. Safely protecting family members, your home and the rest of your property should always be a top priority. Sadly, precautions to keep ourselves safe are often overlooked or simply forgotten which can create opportunities for danger.
There are some alarming realities about the threats of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Did you realize that 60% of deaths caused by a home fire was the consequence of a non-working smoke detector? A fire can quickly spread in a matter of seconds. Having operational smoke detectors can save lives!
Just as important as smoke detectors are carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. This silent killer is responsible for more than 150 deaths per year. That fact that it is almost impossible for a human to detect is why it is so important to have a CO detector on every level in your home.
In addition to these detectors, having an escape plan is the best way to protect your family.
Here are some basic safety tips you can use around your home to help avoid any incidents with fire or CO poisoning.
Basic Fire Prevention Tips
The old adage that states “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not be truer when it comes to fire safety. Here are some common-sense safety tips you can follow.
- Make sure no flammable materials are within 3 feet of any open flame or heat source. This include things like curtains, towels, furniture, etc.
- Do not smoke in bed or while laying down. You may fall asleep before putting it out. Never leave a cigarette unattended.
- Do not plug too many appliances into the same outlet. It can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
- If an appliance has a frayed or damaged power cord, replace it immediately. Same goes for extension cords.
- Keep all fire sources out of the reach of children. Lighters, matches or anything else that could be used to start a fire.
- At a minimum, install a smoke detector on every level of your home. It is advisable to have one in every bedroom or at least near the doors.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. You may want to consider one for every level of your home as well.
Basic Carbon Monoxide (CO) Prevention Tips
More commonly overlooked, preventing CO poisoning is just as important as fire safety precautions. Here are some simple dos and don’ts that can help keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Every year you should have a qualified technician service your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances.
- Install a CO detector on every level of your home and then test the batteries at least twice per year. It is a good idea to get into the routine of checking the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
- Under no circumstances should you ever use a grill, generator or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device within your home. Always use them outside in a well-ventilated area. If using an appliance that runs on gasoline, like a generator, try to operate it at least 20 feet from your home.
- Do not leave a vehicle running in your garage even if the door is open. Carbon monoxide can still get backed up into your home.
- Keep the hood on your stove and fireplace chimney clean and well vented.
Out of all the tips we gave, none is more important than having fire and carbon monoxide detectors properly installed. They are your first line of defense in the event for a fire or CO leak. Having these detectors professionally monitored is yet another level of protection.
Not only does a monitored detector make a loud audible alarm when set off, but also immediately alerts a dispatcher who can then instantly alert the fire department while you and your family focus on escaping to safety. Monitored smoke detectors have proven to dramatically reduce property damage because of the quick response times.
Proper selection and mounting of smoke detectors is very important as well. Be sure that smoke detectors are either mounted on the ceiling or no more than one foot below the ceiling. Again, it is advisable to have detectors on each level of your home and near or in each bedroom.
The two most commonly recognized smoke detectors are ionization smoke detection and photoelectric smoke detection. For maximum protection, it is suggested that both types of technology be used in homes. In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available.
If you also want the best protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, you should also have a CO detector installed on every level, near all bedrooms and one in the basement. For them to perform at their best, they should be installed 5 feet off the ground to get a good reading.
A CO detector near your garage is also advisable. A vehicle that is accidentally left running in a garage can quickly fill a home with this deadly gas.
Create and Practice an Escape Plan
Just as important as detecting an emergency is knowing how to react to it. You and your family need to develop multiple escape plans and regularly practice them. Creating multiple escape routes is crucial. In case one route is blocked, you will have a backup route already in place.
Escape ladders are also a good idea to have in a two-story home. They are inexpensive, are easy to store in a closet or under the bad and can provide a lifesaving method of escape.
Last but not least, designate a place where you will all meet after you have escaped the home in an emergency. Having a designated meeting place ensures everyone will be accounted for.