Safeguarding Your Home Against Fires
The other night, while my husband and I were closing up shop and getting ready for bed, I heard a story come over the news: “Talking Fire Alarms Up Next”. Considering the number of practice alarms I’ve slept through in the early mornings, I instantly found my interest peaked. With toothbrush still in my mouth, I sat down on the couch, waiting for the nightly news to run its segment. What I found was pretty alarming.
The news crew visited homes with young children, averaged two to ten years old, whose parents had taken every preventive measure they could think of to safe guard their house from fires. I watched as, for lack of a better name, Mr. and Mrs. Smith were touted from room to room, pointing out the various alarms they had in each room and hallway, the easily accessible fire extinguisher, and the covered electrical sockets in the walls. They were proud in the steps that they’d taken to protect their home from a fiery inferno, even going so far as to explain to the news moderators that they’d gone over plans with their children in the event of a fire. For their part, the news host possibly had no idea if they had done a good job or not, but they nodded along, agreeing that their house, for better or worse, looked pretty secure in the event of a fire.
Cue the fire expert.
A former fireman, the fire expert went from room to room, pointing out blankets that were hovering too close to electrical outlets, or lamps that were notorious for the way that they caught fire. But what was most frightening, perhaps, was what happened after the news crew placed cameras in the home, explaining to the parents that they would be setting the alarms off once their children had gone to bed. One by one myself (and other viewers in the same situation) watched as all of the alarms went off one by one, while every single child remained asleep in their beds.
The alarm was sounding, the noise blaring, and still they slumbered on.
When asked if they heard the alarm sounding, the next day, the kids were confused. Alarm? What alarm? The next night the news team conducted the same experiment, only this time they took the fire expert’s advice and switched out each fire alarm for a recorded voice alarm, that the parents had spent time recording their voice to earlier calling their child’s name. The effect? It was night and day. Though the kids remained sleepy and struggled to wake up, they were able to recognize their parents’ voices and made their way down stairs and out of the house.
It’s a pretty frightening fact, particularly when most of us, adults and children alike, rely on fire alarms to save us in the event of a fire. Aside from the obvious—to consider investing in a recorded fire alarm—I spoke to my old neighbor to ask for his other fire safety tips, so here from a firefighter doing his job, are the best ways to protect your family.
Have you ever seen the commercial with the giant dust bunny running around the house? Okay so maybe I watch too much TV, but regardless, that cute dust bunny from the commercial is not so cute when it’s trapped in your dryer’s lint trap and causing your house to burn down. Be sure to clean the trap out every time you do a load of laundry. It requires little effort on your behalf and will help keep your dryer cleaner in the mean time. Also, be sure to keep clothes from piling up on top of the dryer as they keep heat from escaping the dryer and can in turn cause a fire as well.
If you’re like me, and live in southern California, it’s likely that you don’t use your chimney more than a handful of times a year. This, however, does not mean that your chimney requires less cleaning than those that are used frequently. Rather, you should be careful to clean your chimney prior to the first use each year. By doing so you will prevent buildup from spreading to outside your chimney, starting an attic or roof fire in the mean time. Contact your local chimneysweep, or visit your hardware store to get a chimneysweep kit to keep your chimney clean.
As mentioned above, electrical sockets are an easy cause of many house fires. Beds pressed up against outlets, stuffed animals covering sockets, and sockets located in hot parts of the house should always have an eye kept on them. Likewise, sockets located around sinks and in kitchens should be paid careful attention so that they don’t get wet, causing someone to be electrocuted or for a fire to start. Consider investing in Ground Fault Circuit Interpreter (GFCI) Outlet if your outlets don’t already have them. These protectors have a sensor that shuts the outlet off when a change in variance is recorded, adding an extra layer of protection to your home.
Though it’s a firefighter’s job to save your family when a tragedy strikes your home, they will be the first to encourage you to practice fire safety in your home. Ensure that your home is safe by investing in outlets, kits, and alarms where necessary, while ensuring that your current alarms and extinguishers remain up to date.