11/12/2009

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

Is worth a pound of cure. That's the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin, and it speaks volumes.

While doing the whole inside the house painting, it involved moving everything off the walls, including our smoke alarms.  Our house is not very old and has some smoke alarms hardwired into the walls.  That's great and all, but I've never actually heard them go off and there's no way to test them.  In the event of a power outage, they're also useless.  We had purchased a couple of smoke alarms before me moved in, not remembering that there were already ones built in.  This turned out to be a good thing, since it's recommended that there should be a smoke alarm in every sleeping area and on every floor of the house.

Our house is rambler, so we just needed to worry about one level.  The wired smoke alarms are in the hallway and the living room.  The two that we had bought originally are in our master bedroom and office.  But with the baby on the way, we thought it would be a good idea to put one in the baby's room as well.

Check out the USFA (US Fire Administration) Recommendations for more information!

Turns out not all smoke alarms are created equal, and it's a good idea to get what is called a "dual-sensor" alarm - to detect different types of fires: flaming ones and smoldering smoky ones.

This sounds expensive, you think. But on a recent trip to Costco, I purchased a two-pack of First Alert Dual-Sensor alarms for about $20.  And they even came with batteries.  I don't know about you, but this is pretty cheap for the important function it performs.

So, we're going to put one alarm in the baby room and a second alarm in the living room.

Another important note about smoke alarms: MAKE SURE THE BATTERIES HAVE POWER.  It's so sad to hear about house-destroying fires when there were smoke alarms in the house, but with dead batteries.  I find it easiest to just change the batteries during the Daylight Savings Time changes.  Set the clocks, then change the batteries in smoke alarms and test them. Easy!  They last about 10 years and should be replaced after 10 years (or when it stops working when you test it).

While on the subject of alarms, it's also a good idea to get a carbon monoxide detector as well.  Like the smoke alarm, it is recommended that one be placed on every level and in every sleeping area.  These cost a bit more than a smoke alarm, about $40 for a basic one. Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and otherwise undetectable, which is why an alarm is so important.  Carbon Monoxide poisoning symptoms are flu-like and you could be ill from it without even knowing it's the cause.  We have one in our living area and it's a plug-in model with a battery backup.  (We used to have another, but it was malfunctioning so we had to throw it out.  Which means I need another for our bedroom.)  Since it has a battery, it also needs to be changed periodically.

Protect yourself!  It's not hard or even all that expensive.  And it provides a whole lot of peace of mind.  Just remember, it does need a little maintenance, but at least it's super-simple!

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