Your Guide to Home Fire Safety Equipment

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If you own a home, one of the most critical steps you can take is to buy the proper fire safety equipment to protect yourself and your family.
When it comes to fire safety, the most important thing you can do is to prevent a fire from happening in the first place. But even the best safety plans can fail, so make sure to also outfit your home with fire detection, suppression, and escape equipment.
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Install and monitor smoke detectors

Smoke detectors represent an easy way to detect the presence of fire in your home. As long as the detectors work properly, you should have an early enough warning to put out the fire or escape your home, if necessary.

Where should you place smoke detectors in your home?

The placement of your smoke detectors is crucial to proper fire safety.
When installing smoke detectors in your home, place one in each of the following locations:
  • Each bedroom
  • In the kitchen
  • In the hallway between bedrooms (you might want to place two on longer hallways)
  • On each level of your home

What are the different types of smoke detectors available?

When choosing smoke detectors for your home, you have to choose between battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors.
Hardwired smoke detectors feed off the electrical system in your home, while battery-powered ones run on batteries. Battery-powered smoke detectors are easier to install versus hardwired smoke detectors, which are known for their dependability.
Detectors also differ in how they detect the presence of smoke, as detailed below:
  • Ionization smoke detector: An ionization smoke detector ionizes the air particles in its vicinity. When smoke is present, the smoke molecules attach to the ions, causing a change in the electric flow of the ionized particles. This change makes the alarm go off.
  • Photoelectric smoke detector: A photoelectric smoke detector uses light to detect smoke. The bulb flashes and reflects off of the smoke particles, redirecting the light toward the photocell in the alarm and triggering it.

How do you test a smoke detector, and how often should you test it?

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, homeowners should test their smoke detectors at least once a month.
To test a smoke detector, press the test button. If the alarm doesn't sound or is weak, replace the batteries if it's a battery-powered detector. For hardwired detectors, a nonexistent or weak-sounding alarm can indicate a loose connection or faulty detector. Fix the connection if you know how to do so or hire an electrician to fix it.

Buy fire extinguishers

Using a fire extinguisher is a great way to suppress flames in your home. Just make sure that you use the proper type of extinguisher for each kind of fire.

Grease fire

A fire caused by grease can easily spread if you don’t deal with it correctly. For this type of fire, use an extinguisher with a rating of B
If you don’t have access to a fire extinguisher, use salt or baking soda to extinguish the flames. Never use a liquid, such as water, to put out a grease fire because liquids will make the fire spread.

Electric fire

For an electric fire, use extinguishers with a rating of C. Just like with a grease fire, salt or baking soda are alternative methods for extinguishing the flames.

Wood fire

Wood fires require homeowners to use a fire extinguisher with a rating of A.
Other methods of putting out a wood fire include using water or a damp blanket to smother the flames. Keep in mind that a wood fire could expose electrical wiring and components, making the use of water to extinguish it unfeasible.

Consider a sprinkler system

If you have the money, installing a sprinkler system in your home is a great way to suppress fire. Just keep in mind that while a sprinkler system can quickly put out a fire, the water from such a system can cause extreme damage to furniture and personal belongings in your home.
Installing a home sprinkler system can also lead to a discount on your home insurance premiums. After installation, make sure to perform regular inspections of the system for any obstructions. Also ensure that the main control valve stays on at all times.

Consider other helpful fire equipment

While detection and suppression equipment are important, the ability to quickly get out of a burning house is also vital. Here's some equipment to help ensure that you and your family can escape quickly and easily if your home does catch fire.

Fire escape ladders

Fire escape ladders come in handy if you must flee your home via a high window. The ladder hooks to the sill of the window and extends to the ground level outside your home.

Fire blankets

You should also keep fire blankets on hand in various areas of your home. While ideally used to put out a fire, you can also use a blanket to protect yourself if you must travel through areas with flames. The fiberglass material of the blanket is designed to be fire resistant.
By purchasing fire safety equipment for your home, you can help ensure your family's survival. Once you buy any equipment, make sure you know how to use it properly and go over the proper use of the equipment with your family.
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