Friday, September 20, 2013

Winter home safety: Quick steps to help protect your family

As cooler weather descends, homes heat up and so does the risk your family could experience a home fire or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Most home fires and CO poisonings occur in the winter. Besides heating appliances, seasonal activities such as increased cooking, candle usage and holiday decorations all add to the risk. In fact each year winter fires claim an average of 945 lives, injure 3,825 people and cause more than $1.7 billion in property loss. 
To help keep your home worry free from fire and CO this winter, answer these questions to customize your winter home improvement projects with tasks that save money, reduce a common household annoyance and increase safety.

One in four older homes needs to update fire safety equipment. How old are your alarms?

* Replace smoke alarms every 10 years and CO alarms every five to 10 years, based on the alarm model.

* Purchase an alarm with a 10-year sealed lithium battery to receive hassle-free protection for a decade -- no need to change a battery or hear a low-battery chirp.

Seventy-five percent of homeowners don't know where to install smoke alarms. Do you have enough?

* Fire experts recommend placing smoke alarms on every floor and inside/outside all bedrooms. Choose alarms with room-specific features, such as an LED light in the hallway, or a voice notification for the bedroom.

* Place a CO alarm near sleeping areas and on each floor. Keep them 10 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.

Do your alarms incorporate the newest features and technology?
* A sealed-in 10-year lithium battery not only continuously powers the alarm, it's also tamper-proof and can't be removed.

* A digital display shows the level of CO in the air and updates the reading every 15 seconds.

*An intelligent multi-sensor responds faster to real fires and CO, while reducing nuisance alarms like those commonly caused by cooking.

*An end-of-life appliance warning lets you know when to replace your alarms.

Do you need other safety products?

* Fire extinguisher - place one within reach in rooms where fires often begin: kitchen, garage, bedroom, living area.

* Escape ladder - place in second- and third-floor rooms as an alternative escape route.

Have you developed a family escape plan?

*Create a plan and practice regularly. Know two ways out of every room and who will assist children and loved ones with mobility/health issues.

Do your children know their address and how to dial 911?

* Post your home address and emergency phone numbers on the refrigerator.

Are your appliances and chimney winter-ready?

* Have a professional inspect fuel-burning appliances to ensure they function properly and that they vent outside.

* Have a professional clean or inspect fireplaces annually. Birds and small animals can cause leaves to build up on top of the chimney, preventing carbon monoxide from venting properly.

* Create a 3-foot clutter free zone around fireplaces, space heaters or wood stoves.


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