Home and Fire Safety Buying Guide: Throughout the House

Catch Fires Early

If you wait until you smell smoke to start reacting to a fire, it might be too late to save yourself. Smoke detectors can “smell” smoke before you can, giving you and your family extra time to escape from a fire.

  • Put smoke detectors in or near every sleeping area, near the kitchen and in other living spaces. There should be at least one on every floor of the house, including the basement. Install them according to manufacturer’s instructions - usually on the ceiling or on a wall 6" to 12" below the ceiling. Be careful to avoid vents, registers and areas of dead air or heavy airflow.

  • Keep the smoke detector units clean and free of dust, test the batteries monthly, and put in new batteries twice a year. Make battery replacement easy to remember by doing it on the days you adjust the clock for Daylight Savings Time.

  • When shopping for a smoke detector, look for a unit that senses both smoldering and flaming fires. A built-in escape light will help you find your way out of the house during a fire, and a strobe light that flashes when the alarm sounds will alert the hearing-impaired to a fire.

Some models can be tested with a flashlight, so you do not have to use a step-stool to reach the test button, and others include a silence button to cut off false alarms easily.

  • To make sure your detector is always ready, choose a model that is hard-wired into your house’s electrical system. You can connect them so an alarm at one detector will make all of them ring. Make sure hard-wired detectors have back-up batteries in case the power in your house goes out. Some models feature long-life power cells that last up to 10 years without a battery change.

  • For maximum safety, look for a smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector combination unit.

Breathe Freely

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, tasteless, odourless gas that can kill. It is produced by any number of common household sources, including wood or gas fireplaces, gas or oil furnaces, wood stoves, gas appliances, a clogged chimney or improper venting in a garage. Today’s energy-efficient, airtight homes contribute to the problem by decreasing the exchange of inside and outside air.

  • Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic those of the flu, so you might not realize you are being poisoned until damage has been done. Carbon monoxide detectors tell you when the level of the gas in the air has become dangerous.

  • Look for a carbon monoxide detector with sensors that record the levels of the gas in the air. That information can help determine the source of the problem.

  • Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can be battery-operated or hard-wired, and they come with test buttons, silence buttons, visual indicators of the alarm and features to let you know when the battery needs to be replaced.

Prevent Trips and Falls

  • Make sure that transitions from one flooring material to the other ­ such as from a carpeted hallway to a tiled bathroom ­ are smooth and free of obstructions that might cause someone to trip.

  • Use non-slip pads under rugs so they do not slide out from under someone’s feet.

  • Place nightlights and lighted switches anywhere someone might need to walk in the dark. Pay special attention to guest rooms, because the people sleeping there might not be familiar with the layout of your house.

  • Make sure major pathways through the house are free of floor clutter.

Light the Way

  • Keep flashlights with fresh batteries in convenient places throughout the house to use in case of a power outage.

  • Flashlights are safer than emergency candles, which can start fires if used carelessly.

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