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According to the Canadian National Fire Information Database, 80 per cent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms. Whether you’re installing smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms for the first time or looking to upgrade your existing alarms, here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe.
Install in the Proper Locations
Smoke and CO alarms should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement, inside every bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Smoke alarms should generally be installed at least three metres from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms. Remember, smoke rises, so place smoke alarms high on the wall or on the ceiling. Lastly, don’t install alarms near windows, doors or ducts because drafts might interfere with their operation. Your alarms’ user manuals will have specific recommendations for placement.
Test and Maintain
Remember to routinely check that your alarms are operating properly by using the test button. For battery-operated alarms, make sure to replace the batteries at least every six months or upgrade to ones that will last a decade. Some jurisdictions suggest or require installing 10-year battery alarms since they eliminate the need for battery replacements. Every alarm should be replaced completely at least every decade.
Plan and Practice
Installing working smoke and CO alarms is just one step in protecting your family and home. In the event of a home emergency, it is also important to have an escape plan. Together with your family, identify two exits out of every room and designate a meeting spot outside of your home. Practice your plan twice a year to help ensure every family member remembers.
Fire extinguishers are an integral part of your home fire safety plan. Here are some expert-recommended tips to keep in mind:
Know Your ABCs
Fire extinguishers have specific ratings that indicate what kind of fire(s) they are designed to stop.
- Extinguishers with a Class A rating can put out fires caused by wood, paper, fabric and other common materials.
- Class B-rated extinguishers are intended for fires fueled by flammable liquids such as gasoline.
- Class C-rated extinguishers are meant for fires caused by electrical equipment, such as frayed cords.
For reliable protection, a multi-purpose, or ABC-rated, extinguisher is recommended.
Inspect Extinguishers Regularly
Regularly examine your fire extinguishers to help ensure they will function properly in the event of a fire emergency. Check your extinguisher’s pressure gauge. If the pointer is in the green zone, your extinguisher is properly pressurized and ready for use. If the pointer is in the red zone, your fire extinguisher should be serviced or replaced. Remember, a fire extinguisher that has been discharged should never be stored without proper recharging by a certified professional.
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