Thank you First Alert for sponsoring this post.
If you’re a regular Polished Habitat reader, you know I’m all about making our home as safe as possible. We can’t always stop things from happening, so having a plan to minimize the damage is essential, especially when it comes to fire safety.
On the 4th of July this year, we had some scary moments when a small grease fire in the grill got out of control. It’s the first time we’ve ever had to get the fire extinguisher out, and even pulled the pin after confirming that the one I had was safe on grease fires. It’s always important to double-check what type of fires (electrical, wood, grease, etc) can be put out with your extinguisher before using it.
Thankfully, the damage at our house was limited to ruined hamburgers and hot dogs, plus parts of the grill melting from the intense fire. And there was a positive side effect. After seeing the fire, my sister-in-law went out and bought a fire extinguisher for her house the next day so they would also be more prepared in an emergency.
When First Alert asked if I wanted to partner with them to share tips for Fire Prevention Month, I couldn’t pass up the chance to help you make your homes safer!
Start by reviewing the whole home checklist in the image below. After that, I’ll go into a bit more detail about home fire safety essentials.
There are three main steps to take that could help save lives and/or property – fire extinguishers, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, and an escape plan.
Fire extinguishers should be placed on every level of the home, and in common places like the kitchen. Other areas include the laundry room, garage, and by the grill. While our grill was attended, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that the #1 cause of home fires is unattended cooking.
Also, make sure you know how to use a fire extinguisher before you need it. An easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is with the acronym P.A.S.S.
- P – Pull the pin
- A- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
- S- Squeeze the trigger
- S- Sweep from side to side
We like this Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher option from First Alert, which is ideal for common household fires. Because our garage entry is close to the kitchen, laundry room, and garage, it’s the perfect spot to keep our main fire extinguisher. We love that this model comes with a wall mount, so it’s easily accessible at eye level and can’t get lost in the mix of everything else in the garage.
While fire extinguishers can help save your things and life while awake, the next step helps protect you 24/7. We’ve all heard about the importance of smoke alarms, and seen terrible news stories of deaths that have occurred in homes without them. According to the NFPA, fire departments respond to a fire once every 23 seconds, and almost three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Never remove your alarms or remove the batteries without immediately replacing them.
Even if you think you’re all set in this area, it’s important to do a quick audit of your home. For example, older homes may have one detector in a hallway when the recommendation is that alarms are on every level AND in every bedroom.
While we still feel like our home is “new,” we’ve actually been here 10 years now, which means we’re working on swapping out all the original alarms with new Combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm with 10-Year Sealed Battery. Having the carbon monoxide detection built-in is a great bonus to us. Previously, we just had one carbon monoxide detector per floor. We feel safer knowing each room will be covered when we’re done swapping out all our existing alarms.
This model doesn’t need regular battery replacements, and like all smoke alarms, should be fully replaced in at least ten years. However, it’s important to still test the alarms regularly. We like to do it when the time changes.
Luckily, it’s a simple project to replace your old smoke alarm or add an alarm to a bedroom that doesn’t have one.
For example, our game room did not have an existing smoke alarm because it wasn’t designated as a bedroom. However, our niece and nephews have been known to camp out in that room overnight, so this was the perfect opportunity to help ensure they are protected. The 10-year sealed battery combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is not hardwired, it only requires two screw holes. The alarm even comes with drywall anchors, so the only tool we needed was a basic drill. Alternatively, an awl to make the anchor hole and a screwdriver would also work!
Once your new alarm is installed following the placement guidelines in the manual, cover your ears and press the test button to make sure it’s working properly. We have peace of mind knowing we have installed reliable, whole home protection.
The final thing you need is an escape plan. If you have children, it’s especially important to regularly discuss the plan with them. Waking up to a smoke alarm is very scary at any age, so knowing what to do if it ever happens is vital.
Sit down and draw a map of your home, and help age-appropriate kids identify at least 2 exits out of every room. If you have upstairs bedrooms, consider adding escape ladders for the windows in case the main stairwell is blocked.
You’ll also want to designate an outside meeting spot a safe distance away from the house. This could be a trusted neighbor’s home, the mailbox, or anything else that makes sense to everyone. Once out, make sure everyone knows to stay out, and that 9-1-1 should be called from the meeting spot, don’t stay inside to call. Once you have a plan, be sure to mention it regularly to reinforce it with everyone.
Whether you’ve been inspired to solidify your fire escape plan, check your smoke alarm batteries, or pick up a new fire extinguisher, we hope this post helps keep you safe for years to come!
First Alert products are carried in Lowe’s stores and online, so make a plan to pick up anything you need soon!