What Fire Safety Equipment Should I Have In My Home?

What fire safety equipment should I have in my home? To have the proper fire safety equipment, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in certain rooms, and encourage your family to plan a fire escape plan.

Protecting your home and family should be a top priority, but many people don't take the time or effort to properly equip themselves for the threats of a fire. House fires can happen quickly and be deadly. Fires can strike anyone's home, regardless of their income, race, or geographic location. Fires do not discriminate and often times can be avoided with the proper safety precautions and devices.

Heather Caldwell is the communications manager for Kidde, the world's largest manufacturer of fire safety products. Caldwell states, "There are several aspects to fire safety equipment. It would include working smoke alarms, in every room and on every floor. It would include placing carbon monoxide alarms on every floor and near sleeping areas. You should have fire extinguishers within range in rooms where fires most likely will start, such as a kitchen, garage, living room, and bedroom. You need to plan and practice a fire escape plan on a regular basis. We recommend that families practice their fire escape plan both during daytime hours and at night."

Smoke detectors are one of the best notices you can have that a fire is in the house and you need to get out. They come in two main types: photoelectric and ionization alarms. Photoelectric smoke detectors are slightly more expensive than ionization smoke detectors. Reflective beam smoke detectors for high ceilings are designed for. For those with hearing impairments smoke detectors equipped with flashing lights and/or vibration accessories are available.

Photoelectric smoke detectors react best when lots of smoke is present. Examples of this type of fire include, soft furnishings, or PVC wiring insulation. Under normal conditions, a beam of light crosses in a steady path within the device and does not strike the photocell. When the smoke actually enters the device it will block and disrupt the light beam pattern and diffuses the light. Once that change reaches a predetermined limit, the photocell will activate the alarm.

Ionization smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material that is used to sense smoke particles that may appear invisible since they are very small. When these particles flow through the air they attach to the ions and disrupt their electrical path inside the detector. The alarm will then sound. This type of smoke detector will react quickly to common kitchen fires involving oil or grease. Ionization detectors tend to sense fast spreading fires with lots of flames the best.

Reflective beam smoke detectors are designed to protect areas with vaulted or high-ceilings. In these areas it is traditionally more difficult areas to install and maintain smoke detectors. The concept is fairly simple on how these work. When smoke enters the device, there is a reduction in the signal and once there is significant smoke that has reached a predetermined maximum the alarm will be triggered. The main components of these units are a test filter that is attached to a small motor inside the optical sensor. Most have adjustable sensitivity levels.

Wireless remote smoke detection systems are a newer option for smoke detection. Some have features like remote maintenance, trouble reporting, and drift compensation. These alarms work in a system that is interconnected and will sound off together in an emergency. This speeds the notification and response times significantly. Each has a receiver and a transmitter and are more expensive than traditional smoke detectors. Some newer homes are already equipped with interconnecting detectors that are hard wired right into the electrical system. For older homes, wireless products may be a less expensive alternative to the cost of adding a wired in system and will achieve similar protection objectives. By using one test button a user is able to test the entire system at once.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are useful in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that may often be over looked as a cause of illness. Faulty gas appliances may be leaking CO without anyone in the house realizing it and the results could be tragic if the CO levels reach lethal levels. Some common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, fainting, shortness or breath, and other common flu type symptoms. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning you should seek medical attention immediately.

Fire extinguishers are easy to use and a necessity in any home. Multipurpose ABC fire extinguishers offer great basic household protection in the form of a dry chemical agent. They are easy to use and fight most common home fires like those started by paper, wood, cloth, or plastics. Another multipurpose fire extinguisher is the BC type. They are designed to primarily handle kitchen fires. Never use water on any electrical fire, but a carbon dioxide extinguisher would be fine on a computer or other electronic equipment fire. It is important to note that all fire extinguishers cannot be used on all fires. Read the labels and directions for explanations of how and when to use a specific fire extinguisher.

A detailed fire escape plan should be in place for everyone in your home, and you should have fire safety drills at least twice per year. Each person should know alternative ways to escape and where to meet once out of the burning house. It is best to initially go over the plan during daylight hours so everyone will understand what to do and where to go, but once the plan is in place the drills should be done in the dark to simulate what an actual emergency may be like. Most house fires occur in the late night and early morning hours while it is dark outside and smoke may obstruct vision inside as well.

Your local fire department can answer many questions you may have about how to make your home safer in the event of a fire and many have helpful checklists to help you be better prepared in the event of a house fire. It is important to be aware of fire risks and to take precautions in order to safeguard your home and family.

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