smoke detector

Keeping you, your home, and your family safe should be a priority. It is reasonable to worry about one’s family and, especially, one’s children. Some things are obvious, others less so. Modern smart homes can help by monitoring the things you may not see yourself, but there is still a lot people can and should do. So, what are some ways you can protect yourself and your family from potential crises and accidents?

Here are some tips and things to think about.

Maintain Smoke Detectors Properly

A properly-functioning smoke detector is important to get your attention when you are asleep or might not have noticed a fire. Smoke detectors should be located on the ceiling or high on the walls of all bedrooms. Do not put a smoke detector in or near your kitchen as it will likely go off when you cook, resulting in you disabling it.

Smoke detectors should be tested once a month. All smoke detectors have a test button. Batteries should be changed out every six to twelve months, as recommended by the manufacturer. If you don’t know the manufacturer, err on the side of caution.

Smoke detectors also expire after eight to ten years. They should be replaced every ten years or if they don’t sound when tested and are connected to the mains or have a fresh battery.

Getting smoke detectors that connect to the mains can save time because you never have to change out the batteries.

Consider a Smart Smoke Detector System

Especially if your home is larger, it’s worth considering a smart system that causes all smoke detectors in your home to sound if one is triggered. A smart smoke detector can go further.

For example, smart smoke detectors such as Nest can be hushed if they go off due to, say, a minor kitchen fire from burning toast or messing up a stir fry, disabled temporarily, and set to alert you on your phone if a fire starts while you are away. Nest smoke detectors also test themselves automatically.

Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide detectors are particularly important if you have a gas stove or furnace, or a generator, but everyone should get them. Install a carbon monoxide detector in the hallway outside each bedroom.

Smart carbon monoxide detectors can be networked to your phone as well, and you can also get combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to save a bit of money.

Carbon monoxide can kill you before you even know anything is wrong, so it’s very important to properly maintain all detectors. If they are not running off the mains, then batteries should be changed every six to twelve months.

Do not Use Damaged Electrical Cords

Replace any electrical cords that have damaged insulation or exposed wiring. You can also cut off the cord where it is damaged and attach a new plug. If the cord is not easily replaced (for example, permanently attached to a perfectly working appliance), then repair it with electrical tape.

Always replace extension cords. They’re cheap and not worth the slight risk of repairing.

Protect Cords From Pets

Pets chew things. Including electrical cords, which can be bad for your home and very bad for your pet. If cords cannot be removed from your pet’s reach (challenging if your pet is a cat), then consider protecting exposed cords with vinyl tubing. This needs to be fairly tough, especially if you have particularly strongly chewing pets such as rabbits.

This will also save you money and time dealing with damaged cords.

Cook Safely

Never leave anything unattended on the stovetop. This is particularly the case if you are cooking with oil (i.e., any kind of frying). Cooking oil fires can start very quickly. When cooking on the stovetop, keep a lid that fits the pot handy. If cooking with a wok or stir fry pan that does not have a lid, pull out a cookie sheet that is big enough to cover the pan. If the oil starts to catch fire, you can then cover the pot with the lid or cookie sheet. Do not try to remove the pan from the kitchen to get it to the sink or outside. Just cover it and turn off the heat source.

Consider a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher for your kitchen. Do not try to put out oil or grease fires with water!

Resist the temptation to preprogram the oven or slow cooker to start cooking while you are still at work. Stay in or near the kitchen at all times when anything is cooking.

Be Careful During Power Outages

If you are expecting weather, prepare for power outages by charging your phone and checking your battery-operated flashlight. Do not use candles for light during an outage; this is a major cause of house fires. (If using candles for mood, be careful and never leave them unattended). Instead use a battery-operated flashlight or camping light. The latter may be a good investment if your home is prone to outages.

If it is your gas or heat that is out, be careful of space heaters. Space heaters should be at least three feet from anything flammable and firmly secured so that they do not tip, especially if you have small children or pets.

Watch Your Outlets

Never overload an electrical outlet. Avoid using the older style power strips that do not contain a surge protector. If a surge protector trips, you are likely overloading the outlet and need to reduce what you have plugged in. Do not plug in high energy items such as heaters or hair dryers to power strips; always give them their own outlet. However, computers and other expensive outlets should be plugged in to a power strip with a surge protector. While many modern computers also have onboard surge protection, a surge protector provides extra protection to these expensive items.

If using extension cords, get certified ones and make sure they are in good condition. Use the shortest extension cord you can.

Kitchen, bathroom, outdoor, and garage outlets should have ground fault circuit interrupters installed. These outlets have a green light and are designed to interrupt the circuit if water touches it, reducing the risk of electrocution.  Do not use the outlet if the light is out or red. If your house does not have these special outlets, consider having an electrician install them and, in the interim, use a portable GFCI device.

Have a Qualified Electrician Check Your Wiring

It’s a good idea to have a qualified electrician check all of your wiring for issues that might cause a fire. If you are worried about the safety of your wiring, or want to have mains smoke detectors or GFCI receptacles installed, contact Express Home Services today. Express Home Services provides reliable electrical services including outlet installation, generator installation, smoke alarms, etc.

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