Winterizing Your Home: Tip 4

Regardless of the topic at hand, every story has two sides. We as people have the tendency to gravitate towards two separate sides or opinions about the most inanimate of objects.  Just the other day my wife and I were discussing a plate we own.  The conversation was whether this plate was a bright and happy plate or if the brightness was hiding some deep-seated emotional problems the plate had.  I will not waste more time on our crazy plate conversation, but it did happen. My point is that sometimes an inconspicuous item may have a dichotomy of good and bad sides.

Something we all might be able to relate having two polarizing sides is fire.  When I personally think about fire, the image of a bonfire or small fire in the fireplace comes to mind.  What I tend to ignore in my romanticized image of fire is the dangerous nature of fire when it becomes out of control.  Luckily, we have the ability to heed warnings before fire can harm us through fire alarms and proper fire safety.

After having personally experienced a house fire, fire safety is an issue my family takes very seriously. Whether by the design of our houses or by ensuring we have fire escape plan, the importance of fire safety cannot be overlooked. We can still enjoy the benefits of fire such as a roaring fire during the cold days while being cautious and preparing in case a fire ever became dangerous.

One of the biggest warning systems to alert us of a dangerous fire is the smoke alarms installed in your home.  These detectors are able to give a warning of fire or smoke and can save your life.  It is recommended that a fire alarm be installed outside of every bedroom and on every floor of your house.  Be sure not to locate them too close to a stove or fireplace to prevent false alarms.   Can you recount the number of times you have set off the fire alarm from burnt popcorn?!

With fire alarms set throughout the house, it is important to check that they are properly working.  I know personally that I have a problem remembering to check my own alarms, so I have set a reminder on my phone for every six months to do so. I have no excuse not to install a new battery in each alarm and hit that annoying test button.  No matter how much that piercing sound hurts my ears, I know my alarms will alert me of a dangerous fire.

Surprisingly, fires release a harmful gas that we often forget about. Carbon monoxide is released when something is not completely burned.  This silent killer can be released from wood, natural gas, car engines, and the list goes on.  Since carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and invisible without a detector, you have no way of knowing if it is released.  Thankfully companies have started to produce alarms combining smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, keeping you safe from both.  Please remember not to keep these detectors too close to stoves, ovens, fireplaces, or garages as these locations are more likely to give out false alarms.

Keep in mind, these detectors only work as long as you keep them powered and free from debris and dust.  Anything that keeps them covered or prevents airflow around the alarm can keep them from working as they are intended to.  We hope this information is a good reminder and keeps your family safe in case of a fire.  In case a fire does break out in your home: keep calm, have a designated place to meet outside your home, and shut off your gas if you have a chance to help keep first responders safe!