October is nearly over, which means Fire Safety Awareness Month is also at a close, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until it rolls around, again, next year before giving some serious thought to whether your home and family are really prepared for the possibility of a fire. The end of October signals something else – the beginning of cold weather and the time of year where furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters get their maximum use. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide are real dangers, all year long, but even more so during these winter months. We got serious, this week, about a long overdue fire safety makeover on our home. You’ll remember that I attended The Home Depot’s free Fire Safety workshop with my daughter and we learned a lot about safety and products for our home. The Home Depot has a fantastic selection and people to answer our questions about what would work best in our home. We found everything we needed to get started, plus received a very generous gift of fire safety equipment from The Home Depot, for sharing our makeover with you.
First off, all the fire extinguishers we owned were left in our last house, when we moved. We will still purchase a couple more for other levels of the house and the garage, but for now, we started with two that are critical to me. The kitchen is, of course, a logical place to keep a fire extinguisher, but space can sometimes be a factor – not just because they take up room, but because you want them somewhere easily accessible for those who could use it, but not necessarily out where small children or pets can get into trouble with them. I had never seen these awesome “kitchen-size” extinguishers, before, so I was really excited to learn about them. It’s a one-use, Class ABC fire extinguisher that is perfect for a small kitchen fire and stores easily in the cupboard, right beside my range. I’m very pleased about this find.
We placed a larger Class ABC (remember those work on all fire types – grease & liquids, wood, electrical, etc.) fire extinguisher on the shelf in a hall “pantry overflow” closet, near all three of our bedrooms. Again, I didn’t want it on the wall where grandbabies would have easy access to it with curious little fingers, but still in a space where the rest of us could get to it quickly. Eventually, I would like to have one of these models in each bedroom closet, one in the basement where the woodburning fireplace is and one in the garage.
Though we’ve often talked about it, we had never installed carbon monoxide detectors in our home and that was another project high on my priority list for this makeover. The first one was installed in the basement utility room about 20 feet from our furnace and gas water heater and the second went in the hall outside the three bedrooms. It’s recommended that, first and foremost, you install a carbon monoxide detector in a central location, just outside, and in the immediate vicinity of, all the bedrooms, in your home. Additionally, for greatest safety it’s a good idea to place one in every bedroom and in the room with gas appliances like furnaces and water heaters. Remember, carbon monoxide has no odor. You won’t detect it by smell and the failures that cause them, often occur in the night, while people are sleeping. Without detectors to waken them, some of those people will simply never wake up before the odorless gas suffocates them. CO2 detectors are important for your family’s safety and they are so easy to install. Don’t procrastinate another day on this one.
The last item in our makeover was an escape ladder. We are actually going to purchase one more, so we have one in each of the west bedrooms. Our home is a multi-level building and those two bedrooms are over the driveway with a good 10 or 12 foot drop from the windows to the ground. In the case of a fire, where the windows are the only safe exit, we want to be sure the kids can get down safely. Escape ladders are an important part of your fire safety plan, but I’m begging you, PLEASE do not buy one, slide the box under the bed or in the closet and expect to be able to use it when you are in the middle of a frightening and stressful situation.
This nice Kidde brand ladder we got from The Home Depot doesn’t require any assembly, but it is carefully packaged with cardboard and plastic wrappings and strong tape. Unpack your escape ladder, remove all the packing material and carefully read the instructions on how to safely use it. Prepare yourself and your kids with all the information you need, BEFORE you are in a situation where you might have to use it. We have showed our kids how to remove their window screens and push the casement windows wide open. They had to learn that you attach the escape ladder to the sill with the white arms facing in and the red out and to make sure it is secure before releasing the steps. Kids need to understand about climbing down and keeping their bodies as close to the ladder as possible, if they are by themselves; and that the strongest person should go out first, (if there is more than one person), so they can help stabilize the ladder for the others who will be climbing down.
Lastly, make an escape plan with your family. Does everyone living in your home know two different exits from every room, in case there was a fire? Have you discussed how to safely exit your house, no matter where they are in it, who to take with them, who not to wait for, what not to worry about grabbing to take with them and where to meet when you are all outside your home? Don’t take it for granted that your six-year-old knows they should just leave the house and not run upstairs to try and find a sibling or the family pet. You need to say those words to them and you need to practice. None of us wants to scare our children, unnecessarily, but none of us wants to go through the experience of losing them because we didn’t prepare them to be safe, either. Make a plan. Teach it to your family. Practice it. Be safe.
I’m not an expert on fire safety, but I care about every last one of you, and about each of your families. At this time of year, the potential for fire is elevated. Please take some time to makeover your home and your family to be as safe as you can be in the event of a fire. Visit your local fire station or a free workshop, do the research it takes to keep you and your loved ones safe. The tips I’ve shared are important, but by no means are they an exhaustive list of the steps you should take. You need to read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with your own escape ladder and every fire safety device you install. Be familiar with them, no how to use them and teach your family how to use them, before you ever need them. My prayer is that you never do, but you and I will both sleep better, knowing we have taken the necessary steps to protect our homes and loved ones.
How do you teach your family about fire safety? Do you have an escape plan? Have you involved your kids in installing safety equipment? I’d love to hear the ways all of you have handled this important job.
This post is part of a compensated blogger campaign, highlighting Fire Safety Awareness Month, on behalf of The Home Depot. I was not instructed to buy any product and made the choice to purchase fire extinguishers, on my own. The Home Depot believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the company and products.