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  • Writer's pictureJames Waterworth

Home Fire Protection Systems

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

You may only have a couple of minutes to get out of a burning building, so the sooner you’re aware of a fire, the better. If you haven’t already installed fire safety alarm equipment in your home, consider the following protection systems, recommended by the American Red Cross.

Smoke alarms

Ideally, you should install smoke alarms in every room of your home, or at least outside every sleeping area and one on each floor, including the basement. If your home doesn’t have a connected system, consider upgrading so that when one alarm goes off, they all do. If anyone in your household is hard of hearing, install alarms that feature strobing lights or bed shakers.

Never disable smoke alarms. To reduce the risk of false alarms, clean your smoke alarms regularly to prevent dust buildup, and place them at least 10 feet away from your kitchen and cooking appliances. If you experience frequent false alarms, make sure the unit is working properly or consider moving it.

Test your alarms monthly, change the batteries twice annually and replace every 10 years.

Fire extinguisher

Familiarize yourself with its operation or request a training from your local fire department to learn how to store, charge and use it. Some extinguishers are rechargeable, while others are single use.

Sprinkler system

Home fire sprinkler systems can decrease the risk of fire-related fatalities by about 80 percent, in warm and cold climates. Only the sprinkler closest to the heat source will go off, potentially saving both lives and property, and typically using less water than a fire department hose.

Relatively affordable, sprinkler systems may also reduce your homeowners insurance premium. Ask your insurance agent for more details about fire safety systems and your eligibility.

Carbon monoxide detector

Smoke and toxic gas take more lives than the flames of a fire. The byproduct carbon monoxide, from fuels that don’t burn completely, is odorless, invisible, highly flammable, extremely toxic and only detectable with a special alarm.

Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors in central locations on every level of your home, including the basement, and outside of sleeping areas to alert you of a leak. If you hear the alarm, quickly get to fresh air. Never use equipment meant for outdoors, like a generator, or heating or cooking devices, indoors.

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion. Like your smoke alarms, change the batteries twice annually, and replace the detector every five years.

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