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I realize that Fire Prevention Week has passed, but if your family is like mine, it feels like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we need to do. If only we could get an extra hour. With it, we could sit down and plan with our family for an emergency.
Well, guess what? This weekend you get the gift of an extra hour and after you test and change the batteries in your existing fire and CO alarms (like you do during both the fall and spring time change, right?), you’ll still have plenty of time to prepare your family for a fire emergency. But before then, skip an hour of your favorite fall tv show and spend that time viewing the video below – it could just save your life.
Learn What it Takes to Be The Super Prepared Family
What does it take to become The Super Prepared Family? You need to become informed about the ways you can protect your family and then follow through with implementing them. For example, did you know that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends you have a smoke and CO alarm on every level of your home and most importantly, in every bedroom?
But you’ve got to commit to regularly testing your alarms and more importantly, you need to get your alarms on a replacement schedule. That’s right. Smoke detectors are only good for about ten years, and then they need to be replaced. They may fail earlier if you don’t take care of them by cleaning them and removing leaking batteries. Routine testing is the only way to tell if your alarm is working – that’s why it’s so important to do.
The next step in becoming The Super Prepared Family is having fire extinguishers on hand, and more importantly, you need everyone in the family to learn how to use them. You should place an extinguisher in any area of the home you could have a fire – for example, in the kitchen, in any room with a fireplace, the garage, and the deck. Why the deck? Well, if you have an outdoor grill it’s possible it could catch your siding on fire. Even if you follow the safety rule of keeping your barbeque grill a safe distance away from anything that could combust, it can still catch fire.
That’s what happened to us a few months ago. I didn’t notice the fire until it had a chance to really get going. When I discovered it I went to grab a fire extinguisher, but we have several, and I didn’t know which one to use. I tried to scan the label for the info quickly, but by now the flames were about 10 feet high, so I just ran out to the deck with the one I had in hand.
I’d been instructed on how to use a fire extinguisher, but it turns out it was much too long ago because I couldn’t get it to spray. After trying for a few minutes, I finally ran to get help from my husband, a career firefighter with 35+ years, to help me. He calmly walked up the stairs as I tried to urge him along. But he remained calm and assessed the situation, laughed at me and my failed efforts, and he put out the fire with the other extinguisher.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Next time I’ll call 911 because they’re more helpful than my husband and they won’t laugh at me (just kidding), and I’ll know which extinguisher to use because I’ve taken some time to find out the differences between the most common household versions.
Now that you have the basics covered with the alarms and extinguishers, the next part is one you need to practice, and that’s your escape plan. It’s essential that you figure out two exits from every room of the house and a way to get down from the second story if you have one, especially if that’s where your bedrooms are. Draw a map of your home by using the free NFPA grid in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF).
Keeping an escape ladder under your bed is great, but if you don’t practice using it, how do you expect to deploy it in an emergency? Also, fire ladders are excellent for physically fit people, but young children, the elderly, and people who are overweight or have other physical limitations aren’t going to be able to use it on their own, so they need to make plans that they can carry out.
You also need to plan a meeting place outside and away from your home where you can gather to make sure everyone is out. Never, ever, go back inside a burning building and always call 911 even if you think someone else may have already.
Complete these steps, and you’ll be super prepared for emergencies. Now, take the NFPA Quiz to see if your family is ready!
The Super Prepared Family Emergency Supplies
Now that you know the basics for becoming The Super Prepared Family, here are some of the products that will make it easier for you. With the incredible advances over the last few years in smoke alarm technology, it’s easier than ever to be protected. First Alert smoke and CO alarms provide tamper-proof and hassle-free protection with their 10-year sealed battery alarms.
First Alert offers smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and combination smoke/fire & carbon monoxide detectors.
Ask any firefighter how many times they’ve heard from a fire victim that they borrowed the alarm battery or took it out because the alarm went off and then they suffered a devastating fire. Or worse, the battery died so they removed it and they were going to replace it tomorrow. Sure, it’s just a coincidence that the batteries are removed or dead when a fire happens, but it occurs much too often and is preventable.
Also, the NFPA recommends your include both photoelectric and ionization alarms. A photoelectric alarm reacts quicker to flames while the photoelectric version reacts faster to smoke. Want to know more about both types of alarms and why your home should have each? Check out the NFPA’s post on Ionization-vs-Photoelectric Smoke Alarms.
Don’t forget to check any existing fire extinguishers. They have expiration dates. We prefer =commercial grade extinguishers with a metal valve and trigger; it’s what finally put the fire out for us (and trust me, it was a lot of fire – the deck surface was kept from burning by our deck paint – underneath the deck was fully engulfed and inches from getting into our crawl space. It was ignited by the plastic dripping onto the vegetation below). We also chose rechargeable fire extinguishers, so there’s less landfill waste. Check out the entire line of First Alert home extinguishers here and if you have a multi-story home, don’t forget to check out the First Alert 2- and 3-story Escape Ladders.
First Alert products can be found at Lowe’s, ACE Hardware, Target, Walmart, Costco, Amazon, and The Home Depot.
Fire Prevention Month is EVERY Month
You don’t have to wait until next October to think about fire safety. Check out the Fire Prevention Month website where you can get additional information and resources including details on the 10-year alarms, alarm laws in your state, plus tips for protecting your family from smoke, fire and carbon monoxide.
I think every month should be fire prevention month, but this weekend you have no excuse for not taking advantage of the “fall back” hour to making lifesaving changes by becoming The Super Prepared Family! What else is more important for you to do with that hour?