Friday, October 26, 2012

Protect yourself from fire and fumes

Wouldn't it be just great if we could build totally fireproof homes? I mean, building materials, furnishings and clothing that just didn't burn. Technically, I suppose it's possible but it'd cost you a small fortune. And since most of us can't go that route, let me tell you about the four things I've done in my home – bearing in mind, the most important thing in any home fire is the safety and survival of the occupants.

1.      Installed fire/smoke alarms (a few dollars each) in all main rooms and hallways, and I check batteries regularly. If you already have them and they're more than 10 years old, I recommend you replace them.

2.      Bought a fire escape ladder that I keep on an easily-accessible shelf on the landing, in case fire traps anyone upstairs. If you buy one, make sure everyone knows how to use it!

3.      Placed a fire extinguisher in an entry-way closet. This only works if you take the time to learn how to use it (and what sort of fires it works on), regularly replace it, and use it only to tackle small fires – and then only AFTER calling 911.

4.      Developed a simple fire safety and escape plan that I discussed with my family. The number one rule: Get out of the house and stay out. My plan included talking to my kids about fire dangers and appropriate behavior. See the next chapter for more on this

You can pick up some more useful tips on fire safety at home at

By the way, you may find that your local fire department offers free home checks and even free or cheap alarms.

You should also install at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your home (preferably near the bedrooms), which will pick up on fumes from furnaces, fires, other appliances and vehicles that reach a danger level in your home.