Archive for April, 2011
Having a fire extinguisher in the home is important for your safety. It is important to know the differences between the types of fire extinguishers so that you know which types should be used on which types of fires. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on an electrical fire could result in electrocution. Using a water based fire extinguisher on a gasoline or grease fire could spread the fire. We have listed the different classes of fires and the different types of extinguishers. Make sure you know which type you have in your home and what types of fires it should be used on.
- Class A – This type of extinguisher is for use on most ordinary combustible materials such as wood, paper, cardboard and most plastics. Most fire extinguishers fit this classification.
- Class B - This type of extinguisher is for use on fires involving flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, oil or grease. The numerical rating on these extinguishers indicates how many square feet of coverage they can extinguish.
- Class C – This rating means that the extinguishing agent used is non-conductive and can be used on electrical fires such as may occur in appliances or wiring. Never use a water based extinguisher for an electrical fire, as this could result in electrocution.
- Class D – This rating is only used for extinguishers that are appropriate for combustible metals such as magnesium, potassium and sodium. Class D extinguishers are usually found in chemical laboratories.
- Water extinguishers – Air pressurized water extinguishers should ONLY be used for Class A fires. Using them on a grease, electrical or chemical fire could make the situations worse. The numerical rating on these APW extinguishers indicates the amount of water they hold.
- Dry Chemical extinguishers – These types of extinguishers can be used for a combination of A, B and C Class fires. The ABC variety leaves a yellow dry powder residue that can be damaging to electrical appliances, however. The BC variety contains sodium or potassium bicarbonate. The residue from these types is corrosive, so it should be cleaned off of surfaces as soon as possible after a fire is extinguished.
- CO2 extinguishers – These carbon dioxide extinguishers work well for class B or C fires and don’t leave a residue like the dry chemical extinguishers. They are not a good choice for class A fires though, because they can often times re-ignite.
- Home Locations – Fire extinguishers should be stored in several locations around the home. Keep one in the kitchen, the garage and at least one on every floor of the house.
- Accessibility – Extinguishers should be stored in plain site, not in closets. They should also be no more than five feet above the floor.
- Inspections – Your extinguishers should be inspected monthly for dents, obstructions and general usability. Re-charge extinguishers immediately after they have been used so that it doesn’t get forgotten with the passing of time.
Be sure that everyone in your household knows where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them. Make sure that the ones you have in your kitchen and garage are rated for B and C class fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
In 2009 there were 1,348,500 fires reported in the U.S., resulting in over 3,000 deaths, 17,050 injuries and property damage of $12.5 billion. One home fire was reported every 87 seconds. Households can expect to average a home fire every 15 years, or five fires in an average lifetime.
Pretty sobering statistics, which suggest it’s just a question of time before the average household is faced with the task of dealing with fire. The good news is that fire deaths have slowly declined over the past decade, due in large part to greater fire prevention awareness. In case of fire, the difference between death and survival is often simple preparedness and practice.
Here then are 10 ways to protect your family from fires:
Fire Prevention Equipment
- Install smoke detectors on every floor, place one outside each sleep area.
- Check smoke detector batteries every 6 months, at the same time you’re re-setting your clocks for daylight savings.
- Another option is hard-wired smoke detectors. The advantage of these is that you will hear the alarm throughout the house regardless of which individual unit detects smoke or fire.
- Purchase several ABC- class fire extinguishers for various locations such as the kitchen, utility room, hallway, and garage.
- Train each family member in their proper operation, and when to use them.
- Residential fire sprinkler systems have become very affordable, and can enhance the market value of your home considerably. Check out some other advantages at FEMA.
Fire Escape Planning
- Draw an escape plan for your home.
- Discuss with each family member where the escape routes are.
- Identify two exits for every room in your home.
- Practice fire escapes, in daylight and at night, at least twice a year.
- Establish a meeting place near the home for the family to gather after evacuating.
- Have the phone numbers for emergency personnel and nearby contacts programmed into your home and cell phones. Make sure every family member knows who to call, and how to call them.
Home Heating Precautions
- Have chimneys and wood stoves inspected and cleaned at least once a year.
- Wood stoves should be installed near walls made of fire-resistant material.
- Fireplaces equipped with glass doors should burn with doors open to avoid creosote buildup in chimney. Close doors when fire is out.
- Stack firewood away from house.
- Space heaters should be placed away from all objects, and have a tip-over shut-off switch.
- Never leave cooking unattended. This is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.
- Keep flammable items like oven mitts and potholders away from the stove top.
- Avoid wearing clothing that can come into contact with cooking surfaces (long sleeves, loose-fitting clothes).
- Never use metal objects or aluminum foil in microwave ovens.
- If fire erupts in your microwave oven, unplug it and leave the door closed.
Stay Plugged-in (Electrical Issues)
- Discard extension cords or electrical devices which have frayed or damaged wiring or plugs.
- Install safety covers over electrical outlets in households with small children.
- Never bypass or remove the grounding terminal on three-prong plugs.
- Be aware of the maximum current rating for each circuit in your home; never exceed their limits.
- Do not run electrical cords in traffic areas or under rugs.
- If you must smoke, take it outside.
- Use ashtrays that are sturdy and deep-sided.
- Consider switching to fire-safe cigarettes, which are made with paper that burns slower.
- Try using ashtrays or buckets filled with sand to ensure those butts are extinguished, and
- Make sure they are before emptying those trays.
Put Your Worries to Bed
- Keep bedroom doors closed at night. In the event of fire, they offer protection and help limit the spread of fire.
- Check that electric blanket for faulty wiring. Make sure it’s UL-approved.
- Pre-2007 mattresses should be replaced with newer ones meeting the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
Candles in the Wind
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Candles should be placed in sturdy, non-flammable holders and positioned where they won’t be easily knocked over.
- Keep matches out of children’s reach.
- Keep candles away from drapes, which can blow into the flame or knock the candle over.
- Check vehicles regularly for fluid leaks or faulty wiring.
- Examine exhaust system for excessive smoke plumes or leaks.
- Avoid smoking in vehicles.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in each of your vehicles.
- Unplug electrical appliances during a storm.
- Turn off air-conditioners.
- Stay off corded phones.
- Ensure outdoor antennae, electrical lines are properly grounded.
As you can see, fire prevention is 90% common sense. Preparedness, the other 10%, is really nothing more than putting that common sense into practice. Knowing what causes fires, or even how to prevent them, is a good start; but the difference between knowing and putting that knowledge to work, could be the difference between surviving and becoming another statistic.
When you are planning to purchase a home alarm system, there are many different things to consider as you compare your options. Below are listed ten tips that can help you through that decision process.
- Hardwired or wireless. If you are living in an existing home, a hardwired system would be expensive and difficult to install. However, if you are constructing a new home, a hardwired system can easily be installed as part of the construction process. Because of the wiring involved, the materials and labor to install a hardwired security system will often times be more than a wireless system.
- Integration with your home smart system. If you are planning a ‘smart’ home, one with integrated intercom, temperature controls and lighting controls, you may want to investigate including your security system as part of this smart system as well.
- Sensor types. Ask about the types of sensors used in the security systems you are considering. Are their sensors for the windows as well as the doors? Will the sensor monitor whether doors or windows are left unlocked or open?
- Audio alarm. What type of audio alarm goes off in the home if the alarm is triggered? Do you have options to choose from?
- Video surveillance. Are there video cameras included as part of the security system? If so, how are they monitored and how obtrusive looking are they? Can you purchase cameras for outside the home as well as inside?
- Ease of install. How simple is the system to install? Can you do it yourself or must it be installed by a professional? This can make a big difference on your overall costs.
- Remote monitoring and control. What options do you have for controlling the system? Some systems can only be set and turned off manually. Other systems will allow you to set them, turn them off and monitor their statistics from remote locations.
- Monthly monitoring costs. There are security systems that simply make noise to scare intruders, but most systems include a monthly monitoring package provided by the security company. Not all monitoring packages are the same. Check to see what is included with the package, such as who will be contacted in the event of an alarm, will it just be the security company or will it also include contact to the local law enforcement agency?
- Alarm response. What is the anticipated response time to an alarm? This is another important question to ask. A reliable security company should be able to give you a reasonable answer to this question.
- Overall price. Make sure you have all the costs involved when receiving a quote from a supplier, installation, the system itself and the monthly monitoring fees. Compare system carefully. Are they all providing the same amount security coverage, or does one system have many more sensors than another? Do lower monitoring fees make a higher priced system a better deal than another?
There are lots of different types of systems available. In addition, many of those systems can be customized to provide as much or as little coverage as you would like. Take your time to compare all your options.
Pretty much everyone has done this at some time or other during their life. They find themselves locked out of their house with no keys. Either they’ve locked the keys inside or have returned home without them, for some reason. If you have been wise enough to hide a spare key somewhere outside of the house, you have an easy solution, but what if you have not? How can you get in?
1. Credit Card. This trick has been used as long as we’ve had these thin little pieces of plastic. You slide the card in between the door and the jamb. With some wiggling around the door latch you should be able to slide the card in far enough to push the latch back and allow the door to open. This won’t work if the door has a deadbolt latch, only with a standard keyed door knob. It also can potentially destroy the plastic card so choose one that you don’t use very often if you can.
2. Unlocked windows. Crawling into the house through a window is another option. Double hung windows work best for this because they can usually be pushed up from the outside as well as from the inside, if they haven’t been locked down. Basement windows and garage windows are two other frequent entry routes. They are small and not everyone can fit through their openings. They also usually require dropping down several feet to a concrete floor after climbing through.
3. Garage keypad. If you don’t have an electronic keypad on the outside of your garage to open the overhead door, this might be a reason to get one. This way, all you need to get inside, is to know your access code. Of course, once inside the garage you still need to get into the house, which can be a problem in this door to the house is also locked from the inside. Keeping a spare key hidden in the garage would solve that problem.
4. Pet door. Yes, I realize that you cannot fit through the pet door opening, but you may be able to find something else that will. If you do come up with something that can reach up to the door latch, you may be able to unlock it.
5. Break a window. Windows are expensive, so you don’t want to do this, unless you are absolutely desperate. You also need to be careful not cut yourself while breaking the glass or crawling through the opening afterwards. Most windows these days are double pane glass. It can take quite a bit of force to break through both thicknesses.
If you have a secure house with deadbolts on the doors, entry can be quite difficult. The best solution is to have a key well hidden outside or to give one to a trusted neighbor to keep for you in case of emergency. Another option can be to call a locksmith from your cell phone or a neighbors house. It will cost you some money but probably less than replacing a broken window