Common Problems with Common Smoke Alarms

Every home has a smoke detector. More than just a commonplace wall decoration, smoke detectors of some form are required in most states at this point. However, few of us go beyond meeting minimum requirements, leaving gaps in the safety of our home that could lead to a devastating loss in the event of a fire.

Common smoke alarms often use ionization technology, which uses electrodes to detect when the smoke levels of a room reach a dangerous point. However, these have been proven to be ineffective in alerting people in time of a fire in the home. Here are a few other common problems people have with the common smoke detector.

It won’t stop beeping
Even when the batteries are replaced, a common smoke alarm still chooses to beep over and over, causing many homeowners a lot of annoyance. These alarms can beep either because the battery is low or from false alarms, such as kitchen mishaps. While it is good to know it is functioning when it goes off because you burnt the pasta, that still doesn’t mean it will be effective in saving your life when only seconds count.

They don’t always alert you in time.
In a study of fatal fires, results showed that common smoke alarms did not even go off roughly 25% of the time. When it comes to the safety of your family, is 75% enough of a guarantee that you will all make it out alive?

They don’t sense every fire
Smoldering fires are a kind that produce little smoke and often start small. However, these can grow in a matter of seconds. They may seem like they are barely burning, but smoldering fires can still produce harmful elements in the air, which a smoke alarm should be able to detect and warn you of. But because these fires burn slowly and for a long time, it takes a while for common ionization alarms to even sense there is danger. By that time, it might be too late for you or your family.

They can’t be in every room
Because they are known for giving off false alarms, many smoke detectors are not allowed in rooms such as kitchens, garages, attics, utility rooms and bathrooms. Since these rooms often house items and activities that can give off regular false alarms, it does make some sense that an ionization alarm would be a nuisance if placed in there. However, these are also the rooms in the home most likely to be the source of a fire. If a fire begins in your attic, but you don’t have a smoke alarm installed in there, how are you expected to know there is a present danger to your family. Not installing smoke alarms in these rooms leaves you and your family vulnerable.

There is no other option
This is wrong. There are dozens of manufacturers, including Crossfire Alarms, which believe your family’s safety is of the utmost importance. When it comes to accuracy, Crossfire Alarms have been proven to be the most accurate and fast-responding alarms on the market. Their interconnected system not only allows you to be alerted sooner of a dangerous event in any room of the home, but their three alarm options allow you to know that there isn’t a single room in the home where you are vulnerable.

Settling for the basic ionization smoke alarms may seem like the easiest option, however, it is far from the safest. Before you think your home is safe from a fire, look at your alarms and ask if saving some money is worth the risk.

Epic Fails That Lead To Epic Fires

We all do dumb things. This can range from something we can laugh off to ourselves being hurt. Adding fire to an already bad situation will only make things worse. The following items are things you should avoid doing if you value your home, hands, possessions, or body being not being on fire at the moment.

We could give a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t smoke but we’ll only give you one right now. Smoking is a fire hazard. In fact, smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. If you were looking for another reason to quit, you found it.

Playing with flammable liquids
Lighting alcohol, gasoline, or any other flammable liquid on fire is something many people are guilty of. You can watch hundreds of youtube videos where someone pours a flammable liquid on something and lights it on fire. This almost always ends poorly. Either the person’s clothes catch on fire, the fire spreads, or they used way too much of the liquid and it explodes. It’s upsetting that we even have to say this but don’t play with flammable liquids.

Unattended cooking
You need to keep an eye on what you are cooking when you are in the kitchen. This is so what you are cooking doesn’t burst into flames and incase your potential meal does light on fire; you can act quickly to put it out. Obviously, if you aren’t around to see the fire start you wont be there to stop it.

Everyone loves a good firework display. However, just playing with fireworks is bad idea. You may think of them as just a pretty toy but you are wrong. Fireworks are dangerous explosives. The firework displays you see at amusement parks or on the Fourth of July are all planned and have various safety measures in place. They would never launch them at a person or thing because they understand how dangerous they are.

How to Not Get Hurt Doing Yard Work

Winter is almost gone and warm weather is on its way to brighten our days and bring all our plants back to life. No that the winter freezes are over, it’s time to get back outside and bring your yard back to it’s colorful, springtime glory. Before your start up the lawnmower and pile up the leaves, make sure you’re ready to avoid being injured, maimed or worse while working in the yard.

Don’t cut your arm off.
Chainsaws, lawn mowers, and weed whackers are useful and make tedious outdoor tasks go by much faster. However, if you don’t know how to properly use these tools, it could result in serious harm to yourself or your property. Each year, approximately 36,000 people go to the hospital with chainsaw related injuries. To avoid becoming a statistic, make sure you know how to safely use a chainsaw or other dangerous tools, and do not allow anyone to use your tools unless they too know how to do so safely.

Dispose of debris properly.
Dead leaves, fallen twigs, and other debris can be very dangerous if you don’t take care of them. If left on their own, these can pile up and put your home at risk of a fire if any of them should ignite. When you are cleaning up your yard, make sure all debris is gathered in lawn bags, or bundled together and placed by the street, far away from your home. Do not just push leaves and sticks to a pile and ho[e they will disappear, because they won’t. By taking action to get rid of the yard trash, you keep your house looking nice and safe form a potential fire.

Don’t forget the gloves.
Yard work can be messy. Using proper gloves can keep your hands safe from potential thorns or other sharp objects. In addition, it will put a barrier between your skin and any harmful chemicals that could be waiting in the brush.

Check your equipment
Nothing can be more dangerous than an improperly working lawnmower. Before your fire it up, make sure your lawn mower or other gas-powered equipment is functioning properly. Consult your owner’s manual if there is anything that concerns you. If you notice an issue while the equipment is in use, turn it off immediately, get a safe distance away, and call the manufacturer (or 911 if it suddenly catches fire).

Be smart
If there is a jam in your lawnmower, don’t use your hand to try to clear it. Don’t start any equipment indoors. Always have closed toed shoes when using an power tools, and use protective goggles when possible. If using gas, be careful while pouring it into the equipment and make sure you do not overfill or use the wrong kind of fuel.

Campfire Safety: How To Camp Like A Champ

There’s this famous bear who has a saying that is something along the lines of, “Exclusively you can avert wild fires.” That’s not exactly the saying but you can probably figure out what is being referenced here. When you go camping the fire becomes the central location of the camp site. It’s your source of warmth and light, it’s where you cook, and it’s the place where Steve breaks out his guitar and plays “Wonderwall” for the hundredth time. It’s truly one of the most important things you have when you camp and it’s extremely important that you keep it safe. When you are setting up your fire pit here are a few things to keep in mind.

Survey the area

Most campsites you will go to have premade fire pits ready for your usage. If not, check the area and make sure there are no low branches, brushes, or bushes nearby. When you’ve got that nice crackling fire things can sometime pop out of it. It’s best to keep those things away from other flammable objects.

Prep your site

It’s important to clean up the area around where you are going to start your fire. Many fire pits have a metal ring to keep the fire contained but if you are hitting a fresh campsite you may not have this option. Be sure to line your pit with a ring of rocks. Not pebbles. Rocks. Also, make sure you keep your tents and gear a safe distance away from the pit. Think 10 feet more or less.

Water and a shovel

These are key elements to have near your fire at all times and can help control a fire if it starts to spread. Water (preferably in a bucket) obviously puts out fire but you can also cover the flames with dirt to extinguish any rogue flames. You know what’s great for picking up dirt? A shovel.

Watch it

It’s extremely important to always have someone watching the fire. Fire spreads quickly and taking your eye off of it for a second can lead to a bigger fire than you can handle. This is extremely important when camping with children or pets due to their sometimes unpredictable behaviors.

Put out before bed

This goes hand and hand with the last tip. You need to put the fire out and make sure it’s out before going to bed. This is best done by using that trusty water bucket or the shovel to cover the pit in water or dirt. Make sure the coals are out by stirring them and once they are cold or wet or a combination of the two you are done.

How To Deal With Insurance After a Fire

After a fire, the last thing you want to deal with is an insurance adjuster. With the loss of belongings, your house, and in many cases, your sense of safety, having to deal with insurance is one of the last burdens you want to deal with. However, knowing how to properly file a claim and make a record of all your losses can help you get back on your feet and back into your home.

When filing a fire claim, there are a few things to do to ensure you get the most from your insurance provider.

Ask For an Advance
If you are forced to evacuate due to a fire, then you probably forgot to grab essentials like clothing or toiletries, and many belongings were possibly completely lost by the fire. If this is the case, contact your insurance provider and ask for someone to bring a check to wherever you are staying. This advance should be practical and just enough to cover essentials until you are able to get back on your feet. This advance will be deducted form the final amount you receive from the insurance company.

Secure Your Property
It is important to take steps that minimize further harm to your property. This includes simple steps like covering your roof where there is damage in order to prevent leaks, turning off your water, etc. Your insurance will cover these damages once the claim has been filed and assessed, but until then, it is your job to protect your belongings. Board up your property if you must leave to prevent vandalism and looting. Even if you are staying elsewhere, have someone go by your home regularly to insure there is nothing you need to be concerned about.

Make a List of Everything Lost
It might take some time and reflection, but as soon as possible, you want to write down everything that was lost in the fire. Everything should be included and written down before your file your insurance claim. Make sure you don’t throw away any damaged or destroyed items, and take pictures of as many things as you can to better help your insurance adjuster. If you throw something away, the insurance company may refuse to compensate you.

File Your Claim ASAP
Once you have taken account of all of your loss, file your claim. Call your insurance provider immediately to get a form to fill out. You will need to provide as much information as possible including date of loss, type of loss or damage, location of damage, related injuries, others involved, condition of the home, description of all damaged contents, whether temporary repairs are necessary, and records of a police report. Put as much detail as possible to give your insurance company a good reading of the state of your home.

Keep Track of Expenses
While you are away from home, make sure you keep note of how much you spend on hotel stays, food, essentials and more. Your insurance policy should include a “loss of use” clause that reimburses you for expenses you suffer during times like this. Make sure to keep a list of how much is spent and what it is spent on.

Document All Repairs
Once you begin estimating the cost of repairs, make sure any company you go to provides a written estimate, receipt, and documentation to give your insurance adjuster all the right information. Be picky when choosing contractors, and take time to find someone who is trustworthy and provides the best deal to work with your insurance.

Don’t Give Up
Insurance companies try to close fire insurance claims quickly. However, if you do not feel like they have fully served you in the way agreed upon in your insurance plan, then tell them. The longer a claim is open, the longer you are able to find things they need to reimburse you for.

9 Tips To Heat Your Home Safely

The winter cold is here and looks like it is here to stay. With the upcoming few months promising more chills and the potential for snow and ice, it is time to crank up the heat. Before you turn on your heater after months of rest, make sure you are heating your home safely with these simple tips.

Test Smoke Alarms
Before you add heat to your home, make sure your smoke detectors are working properly. Sometimes heaters can cause fires, and you need to make sure your alarms are ready to warn you if your family is in danger.

Turn off the Oven
While it might seem like a genius idea, do not use your oven to heat your home. This can cause the oven to catch fire, or someone in your home to unknowingly touch the hot surface.

Be Smart with Space Heaters
If you need to use a space heater, first make sure it is in proper working order. Look for any damage, faulty wires or unsafe sparks. Once it is on, make sure there is nothing within three feet of the heater.

Have Kid-Free Zones
If you have kids, make sure they don’t go anywhere near any heating equipment. Tell them they must stay at least three feet away from anything that produces heat like a space heater or furnace.

Trust the Pros
Have a professional come and look at all your heating equipment, handle repairs, and make sure your home can be safe and cozy.

Know Your Fuel
If your heat source uses fuel, then make sure you use the right kind. Read your user instructions to find out what your appliance is made for.

Clean Your Chimney
Before you light a cozy fire, make sure your chimney is clear of all debris. Hire a chimney sweep to know it is properly cleaned.

Cover Your Fireplace
Put a sturdy screen in front of your fireplace to ensure sparks do not fly at anyone, and that no one is too close to the flames.

How You Can Effortlessly Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Getting cozy in front of a roaring fire in your fireplace can be one of the most rewarding parts of winter. It’s a chance to relax, enjoy the season, and escape from the winter chill. The warm glow makes it easy to forget that despite all of its benefits, a fireplace can be an extremely dangerous part of your home.

A fireplace can be an easy way to heat your home, roast some mallows, or even just add a little more holiday spirit to your evening. It is also easy to keep it well-maintained and safe so you can relax and warm up without worry.

Keep Combustible Materials Far Away
Make sure your hearth is clear of all items except for fireplace tools. Lighting the fireplace is inviting a large open flame into your home. The less items you have near it that can ignite, the safer you, your home and your family will be.

Keep it Covered
To help have a little control over how much the fire can spread, make sure you have a screen in front of your fireplace. Most come with a metal screen you can pull to cover the flames, which should be kept close if a fire is lit. If you do not have a metal screen, you can purchase one to keep in front of the flames. If you have glass doors in front of your fireplace, make sure they are open when the fireplace is in use.

Use The Right Tools
Never reach into a fire with your bare hands, no matter how tough you think you are. Tools such as pokers and grabbers are a simple way to keep a fire burning bright without putting your hands in danger.

Keep it Clean
Clean ash out of your fireplace once it reaches the bottom of the grate to avoid danger. If you have recently had a fire, do not use a vacuum, as some coals can remain hot for up to three days. Always use a dust mask and gloves to clean out your fireplace.

Clear the Flue
Before lighting a fire, check your chimney flue for any debris. Hire a professional chimney sweep to come and inspect it and make sure everything is cleaned out. Check to make sure your damper is open before lighting a fire, and make sure to close it once the fire is completely extinguished. To keep debris out of your fireplace, consider installing a chimney cap.

Use the Right Wood
Burn only firewood in a wood-burning fireplace. When selecting wood, look for seasoned wood that has been cut and dried for at least six months. Dry wood burns more thoroughly, while wet wood can cause a lot of soot. To check, knock two pieces together; if they make a sharp sound, they are dry. Always use hardwoods such as oak, ash and maple for a better fire.

Have it Inspected
Twice a year have a certified chimney sweep come and inspect your chimney. Have them look for any cracks, obstructions or other damage that can be dangerous. Once they have cleaned your flue from any soot or debris, ask them what you can do to check your chimney yourself to keep it safer year-round.

Before lighting a fire, make sure you have properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in the room where the fireplace is located. Detectors, like the interconnected system made by Crossfire Alarms, can inform you in time of a potential threat in your home caused by the fireplace. If your current detectors do not work properly, consider upgrading to a more advanced and accurate system like Crossfire that is proven to alert you sooner and keep you safer.

8 Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree From Catching on Fire

The stockings are hung, the decorations are up and the lights are on. The Christmas season is here and ready to fill our homes with family, food and cheer. Each holiday season, we decorate our homes for Christmas all focused on the holiday centerpiece, the tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25-30 million real trees sold in the United States every year.

Christmas trees have become a holiday staple. Even if you aren’t willing to go through the hassle of a real tree, it’s almost impossible to go into a home, office or any building during December without seeing a decorated tree. With so many trees, it’s important to remember the risks associated with this holiday icon. According to a report by the NFPA, approximately 210 Christmas trees ignite each year. Of these fires, 1 out of every 40 result in a fatality, compared to an average 1 in 144 total reported home fires. But don’t let statistics ruin your holiday season. Follow these simple tips to keep your tree and your Christmas safe.

1. Go for green!
When picking out your tree, look for one with lush, green branches. Avoid trees that are dry and brown. A good way to test is grab about eight inches into a branch and pull your hand out towards you. If a lot of needles fall off, it is a dry tree.

2. Find the right spot!
Before placing your tree, cut off about two inches from the bottom of the trunk and trim any drooping branches. Find a place for your tree that is at least 3 feet away from any heat source including fireplaces, candles or radiators. And make sure your tree isn’t blocking any exits.

3. Give it a drink!
Like all plants, your tree needs water. To keep it alive longer and avoid it drying out, make sure put water in the tree stand each day. IF your tree does become dry, turn off the lights on it immediately and discard it.

4. Light it right!
When buying lights to put on your tree, only select lights that have a label from a recognized safety testing laboratory. Check the usage instructions to ensure your only use lights intended for indoors on your tree. Never use lit candles to light your tree. Always turn off the lights before leaving the home or going to bed.

5. Add the ornaments!
If you are buying ornaments, look for ones that are flame-retardant. Look through your old ornaments to see if there are any made of paper or other flammable materials. Instead of put these on the tree where they could become a hazard, try putting them into a frame or scrapbook so you can keep the memory without the risk.

6. Check your wiring!
One of every three Christmas tree fires are caused by an electrical problem. To ensure that isn’t you, check all wires for frays or overuse. Never use damaged lights or wires. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets together, and no more than 50 bulbs for screw in light sets.

7. Wrap presents wisely!
A Christmas tree isn’t complete without gifts neatly wrapped and placed beneath it. Since presents are usually wrapped in paper products, it poses a potential threat. Make sure no presents are placed too close to lights and keep any bows and ribbons far from open flames.

8. Make your holidays safe!
It only takes a few precautions to keep your holiday season bright and fire-free. Make sure to check your smoke alarms before the holiday season so they can warn you in time of any potential fire danger in your home.

Thanksgiving Cooking Safety

It’s the biggest meal of the year. The family is home, everyone is running around, every part of the kitchen is being used. A lot of things can go wrong, which is why it’s more important than ever to be safe in your kitchen. Following these tips will keep your kitchen safe and the food delicious.

Children’s laughter and play is one of the best things about having the family home for the holidays, but keeping them safe can be a three man job.

When using a stove keep children 3 feet away at all times. The steam or splash of liquids can burn them so distance is important.

Keep knives out of reach of children, and any other sharp objects such as scissors. A lot of different appliances can be used during the holiday, so make sure the cords are out of reach of children. Any lighters or matches should be locked away when not in use.

The safest thing would be to ask a friend or family member to watch the little ones while the cooking is going on. Keep them out of the kitchen and everyone will be safer.

It’s important to have at least one person stay in the kitchen at all times. It’s especially important when you are using a stovetop to keep an eye on the food.

Keep the floors clean so that you or anyone else doesn’t trip something. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular bases to prevent grease buildup.

Make sure your smoke alarms are working by pushing the test button. Check that nothing flammable is placed near anything hot. Purchase a fire extinguisher to be used in case of emergency.

If you have to leave your home be sure to check that all kitchen appliances, stoves, and ovens are off.

If you are the one cooking you should never wear loose clothes when cooking.

Always use a timer and check your food as your cooking.

Be diligent and watchful of other people in your home. There safety is just as important as the turkey.

If you follow these safety tips everyone will be safe and secure. Laughter and merriment will be in the air, the smell of delicious food will fill the house and everyone will be impressed by your cooking.

7 Steps To Turning Your Heater Back On

It’s getting cold out, the air is getting crisp, sweaters, gloves, and scarves are starting to make appearances. That means it’s time to turn on the heater! Before you do though, here are a few things you should check first.

It’s important to check for any dirty filters you may have in your home. Air filters maintain the air quality of your home. So, if you don’t want any dust or pollen circulating through remember to check them and replace if needed before winter comes. A clean filter also means that the unit will work more efficiently. You’ll get more heat out and be more comfortable in your home. Changing your filter monthly once winter begins can even save you money.

Having a programmable thermostat is a must for cold winters. Be sure to check your thermostat is working properly before winter starts. If you keep raising the temperature and nothing is happening, that could be a sign that your heating unit is not ready for the colder weather. It’s recommended that when you turn on your heater to set your thermostat between 65 and 68 to save energy.

Check that your vents are open where you want them blowing air, and closed where you don’t. A common error people make is to forget to check their vents before calling out a technician. So check and double check that the vents are open before someone checks the whole system.

Door and Windows:
Check all of your doors and windows for leaks. Leaks can bring cold air in from outside, making your heating unit work twice as hard. This uses more energy making you spend more money.

Around the Unit:
Be extra sure to check the area around your actual heating unit. Check to make sure nothing flammable has been stored near it over the summer. Common culprits are lawnmowers and gas cans,

That Smell:
When you turn on the heater for the first time, you may smell something strange. Over the months it’s not in use dust settles on the heating components. It’s then burned off when the unit heats up. Don’t be concerned, open a window to dispel the odor. If the smell persists that could be a sign it’s time to change your filters, but you already checked that, right?

These simple steps will get your heating unit winter ready and make it so you don’t need to call someone out to check your whole system, but if you’re still worried a technician can assist you in double checking the unit. (Just be sure to check the vents first)

If everything checks out then your system is ready for use and you’re ready for the winter months. Invite friends over to your now cozy home and have a happy holiday season.