Articles of Interest

Types of Smoke Detectors

What kind of smoke detector should you get? There are two basic kinds: photo electronic, and ionization. Photo electronic ones are better at detecting smoldering fires, which create lots of smoke, but little actual fire at first. They’re your best bet for most places. Ionization detectors work best for rapidly spreading fires in combustible materials, where there are lots of flames, but little smoke. If you’re going to have one in your kitchen, go with an ionization model. That will also reduce the likelihood of them being triggered by cooking. Smoke detectors are your most important fire safety weapon, and it’s imperative that you have them in your home, and that they’re in good working condition at all times.

Fireplace and Chimney Safety

Fireplaces, chimneys, and wood (or pellet) stoves are another area of particular concern when it comes to fire safety. A quiet evening spent in front of the fireplace is one of life’s great pleasures. So is reading to the family while enjoying the radiant heat from a wood stove. These things can give us much comfort and pleasure, and yet, if they’re used improperly or not maintained, they are fire safety hazards, and can easily lead to tragedy. The main problem is creosote buildup. Creosote occurs naturally as a byproduct of burning wood.

If it gets to be a quarter inch thick or thicker inside the chimney or stove, it’s a fire hazard, as it can ignite. Your best friend in the fight against wood stove and chimney fires is the legendary chimney sweep. They make their living cleaning chimneys and stoves, and have prevented untold numbers of fires over the centuries. You should have a chimney sweep clean your stove or fireplace at least once a year, and possibly more often if they get a lot of use. It’s also a good idea to make sure the chimney has been inspected when you buy a house. If it hasn’t, don’t use it until you’ve had it looked at. If you ever do experience a chimney fire, get everyone out of the house.

The Importance of Fire Drills and Escape Plans

Next, let’s talk about fire drills and escape plans. If it’s 3 AM, and your smoke detector goes off, will you know what to do? Will the rest of your family know what to do? When a fire starts, experts say you’ve got one to two minutes to get out of the house to safety. Could you and all of your family do that? Especially considering that the house is likely to be filled with thick, black, unbearable smoke? Most deaths in fires aren’t from the flames, but from smoke inhalation. Would every one of you be able to think clearly and quickly, and figure out the best course of action for themselves? It’s very unlikely.

Everyone is likely to be panicking and screaming and wondering what to do, unless you’ve prepared your family well ahead of time for this situation. They’re going to be screaming and panicking anyway, but if you’ve planned for what to do in a fire, they won’t have to improvise and start thinking for themselves. They can just do what you’ve practiced. Having an escape plan is a fundamental part of home fire safety. So are regular fire drills. They can mean the difference between life and death. Creating an escape plan is the first step.

Every room should have two possible exits, the door to the hallway, and a window. If the house is on fire, and the room is on the first floor, the window should be the first choice, unless the fire is coming from that area. Before attempting to exit through the door, a person should first touch it. If it’s hot, do not open it, as it means the fire is right outside the door. Try to exit through the window. If that’s impossible, wait for help, but do not open the door. Have a meeting place designated, such as the end of the driveway, or the mailbox, and everyone should go there immediately to be accounted for.

No one should ever go back into a burning house to try to rescue someone. Once you’ve got your plan, explain the escape routes to your family, and exactly what they should do in case of fire. And then practice it on a regular basis, at least once or twice a year.



Prevention keeps all of us safe...

Causes of Fires

Across America, there is a home fire somewhere nearly once every minute. Fires have many causes, but most of them fall into some broad basic categories: cooking, electrical, smoking, and children playing with matches and lighters are the main causes of fires. Hundreds of people die each year from the last one. Two of your most important safety tasks in the home are to make sure children never have access to matches or lighters, and to educate them on the dangers of fire and how they’re started. These two things cannot be stressed enough. It’s absolutely critical that you never leave matches or lighters where children can get to them. If you smoke, you should never set your lighter down on an end table, coffee table, etc.