Dealing with a Drought

The state of California is currently in the middle of one of the most severe droughts on record. Over the past three years, the state has been forced to make huge changes in lifestyle in order to compensate for the lack of rain, resulting in multiple lakes being completely dried up. Droughts are common and can happen to any region at any time. It is important to know how to avoid fires in these dire situations, since water becomes a precious commodity.

With dry conditions comes the increased risk of a fire. Often, local government will enforce strict water restrictions that ban people from over-watering their lawns, or using too much water in general. These steps are good to help preserve precious water, but also mean that there is an increased risk of fire for people in the area.

The most important step to take towards fire safety during a drought is to avoid creating a fire of any kind. Do not burn any trash, debris, leaves or other materials outdoors, and exercise extreme caution when grilling. If there is a lot of leaves, dry brush or other materials around your home, try to move them as far away as possible to create a “safe zone” around your house.

If you store firewood at your home, make sure it is put away safely. Keep it at least 15 feet from your home and preferably somewhere uphill. Maintain your lawn and land around the home by eliminating any dry or flammable materials. Regular raking and leaf-removal can make a huge impact on your safety. If you do plant new plants, look for fire-resistant species that will be less likely to cause a blaze.

Avoid parking vehicles on grass, as the oils and heat can cause the dry grass to catch fire. If you have flammable materials such as gas, oil or paints, make sure they are stored in a cool place at least 30 feet from your home.

Make sure you educate your children on what a drought means and how it affects them. Teach them fire safety and how to keep themselves and others safe when at a higher risk for fire.

Droughts are a dangerous time for many reasons, and fires are one of the many things that can result from the hot, dry air. Do what you can to prevent a fire and keep your home safe, and you can help make it easier for your community to survive a drought.

For more on keeping your home safe, contact us at Crossfire Alarms.

How The Smoke Alarm Got Its Start

Every day, smoke and heat detectors in homes and businesses do their part to help warn people in time of the present dangers of a fire. We have all grown up with different versions of fire detectors in our homes, and few of us ever gave them too much thought until it is too late. But where exactly did these small plastic alarms begin?

While his colleague, Thomas Edison, was working on the light bulb, Francis Robbins Upton was making huge strides in technology as well. Upton began his career as a mathematician and physicist. Upton was born in Massachusetts in July of 1852. He became the first student to officially earn, by examination, a graduate degree from Princeton University in 1877. Upton then moved to Berlin to study under Hermann von Helmholtz, where he learned Helmholtz’s views on how to analyze electrodynamics in mathematical ways.

In 1876, Thomas Edison had set up his laboratory in New Jersey and was looking for an assistant. Edison knew he wanted someone with good theoretical skills, so he asked Helmholtz who immediately recommended Upton. Upton began helping Edison with mathematical problems associated with his devices. Because he had no formal education, Edison relied on Upton to turn his ideas into possibilities through mathematics. Upton was the key to helping Edison come up with successful models of his ideas, such as the incandescent lamp and the electric light bulb.

In 1890, along with colleague Fernando Dibble, Francis Robbins Upton patented the first automatic electric fire alarm. In its original design, the smoke alarm only contained the battery, a bell-dome thereon, an open circuit with a magnet, and a thermostatic device. In its simplest form, the first smoke alarm would use the thermostatic device to detect abnormal amounts of heat due to smoke or fire. Once it hit the maximum temperature, it would signal the bell to sound. In their patent description, Upton and Dibble said their objective was to “produce an alarm complete in itself, simple in construction, without complicated circuits, and which shall not require constant attention.”

At the beginning, the smoke alarm was not easily attainable due to its high cost. IT was most often found in businesses or in the homes of wealthy people. Over time, however, their popularity grew, and now no home is complete without at least the most basic alarm. Following in Upton’s footsteps, Crossfire Alarms looked to create a product that worked without much fuss and was essential in saving lives. The Crossfire system of smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors takes Upton’s model to the next level for the safest, fastest responding detectors on the market.

From simple beginnings to its present state, the smoke alarm has become a staple in every home. With a clear goal to alert people of the event of a fire, Francis Robbins Upton was able to revolutionize the way we view home safety.

Don’t Start a Fire With Your Fireplace

Some of our best family memories are made around the warm glow of a fireplace. These hearths serve as a centerpiece for decorations, warmth, and other occasions throughout the year. Our fireplaces do a lot to help our homes stay warm, but there is a lot we need to know before lighting up the logs.

Checking Outside
Before you light the fire inside, make sure your fireplace is in working order from the outside. Take a walk around the exterior of your home and look for any cracks or damage to your chimney. Make sure your chimney cap is in place so no animals are in your chimney. Feel free to call a chimney sweep who can go into your chimney and remove any debris that could either cause a fire or enter your home when you open the chimney vent.

If you notice any damage to the exterior of your chimney, call a repairman to come and look over it and make any necessary repairs. In addition, have them check the inside of the chimney for cracks in the chimney liners or other worries that could lead to a dangerous house fire.

Checking Inside
Grab a flashlight and inspect your fireplace flue. Make sure it opens and closes properly, seals well and there is no noticeable damage. Next, open the flue and check for any flammable items hiding in your chimney. Remove any dirt, leaves, debris or other objects that could ignite and cause a more dangerous fire.

Check inside your fireplace and chimney for any moisture. Moisture can indicate either a leak somewhere in the fireplace, or other damage that could have fatal results. Call a repairman to help with any damage or issues you find.

Lighting the Fire
Always use dry, dense wood for your fire. Damp or wet wood can take longer to light and often leftover moisture can cause sparks in the fire. Make sure you clean out the floor of your fireplace after each fire so you don’t have any ashes or other materials left that could catch on fire or cause a problem.

Never late a fire too late in the evening, and make sure you put a fire out completely before going to sleep. All logs should be placed in the rear of the fireplace and a cover should be placed in front of the fire. Do not use flammable liquids to start the fire and instead rely on kindling or start logs. Never let children near the flames or allow them to handle any fireplace materials.

When lighting a fire in your home, make sure you are doing all you can to be safe and enjoy the warmth it brings your family.

For more on keeping your home safe, head over to Crossfire Alarms.

Carbon Monoxide Statistics

Carbon Monoxide is widely known as the “Silent Killer.” The poisonous gas has no scent, no color, and no warning before it takes the life of a person. Many homes come equipped with some version of a carbon monoxide detector, and many people shrug them off as unimportant or unnecessary. However, these alarms could save you and your family from a potentially fatal situation.

In the United States, approximately 400 people die from accidentally inhaling carbon monoxide. According to the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, there were 72,000 reported non-fire carbon monoxide incidents reported from 2006 to 2010, showing a steady increase over time. In 2003, there were approximately 40,900 reported non-fire carbon monoxide incidents, while close to 80,100 incidents were reported in 2010. The majority of these incidents occur in one or two family residential properties.

According to the NFPA, most carbon monoxide incidents are reported in the evening hours between 5:00pm and 9:00pm, after most families have returned home for the day. Carbon monoxide incidents are most common during the months of December and January, with February and November close behind. Summer months tend to see a drop in carbon monoxide related incidents, due to less people utilizing heat sources that produce the toxic gas.

In a study published by the Center for Disease control, CDC, it was found that across all age groups, men were more likely to die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. The CDC’s study found the average annual number of deaths from 1999-2010 for men and women in four different age groups. In the 0-24 year age range, an approximate 40 males and 20 females were killed each year as a result of carbon monoxide. In the 25-44 year range, close to 100 men and 20 women were killed each year. Adults aged 45-64 saw an estimated 110 men and 30 women pass each year, while the 65+ age range saw around 70 men and 40 women die form carbon monoxide each year.

Effective carbon monoxide detectors, like the ones offered by Crossfire Alarms, alert us when carbon monoxide gets to a dangerous level. To protect your family, it is important to take the right steps. Have your heating system, including vents and chimneys, inspected each year and have all repairs made immediately. Never bring charcoal grills or portable generators inside of a home or garage. Do not use ovens or stoves for heating. Make sure your fireplace flue is open before lighting a fire in your fireplace. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Vomiting, mental confusion, loss of coordination and loss of consciousness can all happen at extremely high CO levels.

Carbon monoxide may not seem like a common issue, but it is a danger that can affect every single home. It is important to do as much as you can to keep your home safe, including equipping your home with reliable carbon monoxide detectors. The more you do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the less likely you are to become another statistic.

For more on keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide, take a look at our carbon monoxide detectors over at Crossfire Alarms.

Keeping Your Baby Safe

According to the United States Fire Administration, USFA, children under five years old are the most likely to be killed or injured in the event of a fire. Babies and toddlers not only depend on us to keep them safe, but also are unable to recognize the dangers present when there is a fire. That is why it is important to fireproof your home whenever you baby proof.

Hide Heat Sources
Matches, lighters, candles, and other fire starters need to be kept far away from your child’s reach until they are old enough to understand the responsibilities and dangers associated with them. In addition, hide all flammable liquids, as children could also attempt to ingest these chemicals not knowing they are dangerous.

Baby-proof Outlets
Electrical outlet covers are an amazing way to keep babies from interacting with dangerous electrical currents. These small, inexpensive plastic devices plug into your wall outlets and are designed to be difficult to impossible for children to remove.

Watch Your Actions
Babies learn by watching and imitating us. If a child sees their parent eating with a spoon, the baby will attempt to do the same. While this can be beneficial, it can also mean you teach your children bad habits without even knowing. Always make sure you avoid lighting matches, using lighters, smoking, or messing with any dangerous or flammable materials when your child could be watching.

Fire Escape Plan
Before your child is able to walk, it is unlikely that they will be able to get out of their crib and crawl to safety in the event of a fire. That is why when you create a fire safety plan for your home, you need to make sure you know how to get to your baby to get it out of the home in time. Make sure you know which adult or parent is responsible for the baby, and where to meet so you know everyone is safe.

Smoke Alarms
Your smoke alarms need to be regularly checked to ensure they are working properly when they need to be. When it comes to a new addition to your family, consider upgrading your alarms so they can be more efficient and warn you sooner when you or your family are in danger.

The minute you find out you are expecting a child is when you need to begin preparing for their arrival. From building cribs and buying baby clothes, to baby-proofing the home, it is important to make sure you are ready to welcome your baby into the world. Fire safety might not be mentioned in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but it could mean the difference between life and death for your baby.

Protecting Home When You’re Away

Planning a vacation is always exciting. You can look forward to new adventures, new locations, and new memories that you are likely to cherish forever. However, if you forget to keep your home safe when you aren’t there, you could come home to disaster. From theft to fire, when you aren’t there to look out for it, your home is vulnerable to a lot of dangers unless you prepare.

Get a House sitter
A house sitter will do two things. For one, it will ensure there is someone at your home who is consistently checking on pets, locks, and other things to make sure it is in as good of shape as it was when you left. Secondly, this will deter any thieves who think your home is abandoned and alone. Make sure you give them information for any neighbors, local officers, vets, or other people they may need to contact while you are gone.

Don’t tell Social Media
While it is tempting to brag when you will be out of town, it is not a smart practice. Vocalizing online that you will be gone is like telling thieves your home is unattended for a long period, giving them an exact window of opportunity. Wait until after your trip to post pictures and share your trip with everyone.

Tip off police
Especially if you live in a small community, letting police officers know when you will be gone for more than a week will allow them to plan to patrol your neighborhood at least once or twice while you are gone. Seeing a police car regularly in an area will deter thieves who know your house is now being watched.

Get a neighborly lookout
The one time nosey neighbors come in handy is when you are out of town. It can be the same person you have watching your house, but let a neighbor know you will be gone so they can inform you if any unidentified cars are at the home.

Don’t let your home look abandoned
Set light in and around the home to timers, so they go on and off at various times to make your home look lived in. Leaving all lights on can be suspicious if a burglar is watching at 3am, so timers help it look like someone is there turning lights on as needed. Also, see if you are able to stop your mail and newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip, so it doesn’t pile up.

Unplug electronics
Go through your home and unplug any electronics that don’t serve a purpose while you are away. This will not only lower your electricity bill, but will also help prevent an electrical fire form happening in the home.

Lock up
Make sure every door, window, nook and cranny are locked before you leave. IF you have a spare key, place it in the house so no one else can use. Make sure your home is ready to take care of itself while you are enjoying a home away from home.

What To Do If Your Crossfire Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off

We’re really glad that you decided to invest in a state-of-the-art carbon monoxide detector for your home. At Crossfire Alarms, we take the threat posed by carbon monoxide very seriously, which is why we’ve manufactured our detectors to exceed all industry standards. In addition, that’s why we’ve built them to communicate with each other wirelessly. We want to ensure that you’re alerted to a danger anywhere in your home, everywhere in your home. This, we believe, is the only way to adequately protect you and your family from injury or loss of life as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rather obviously, we hope that you never have to hear your Crossfire carbon monoxide detector going off for a real emergency (only when you’re testing it). However, in the event that you do, we thought we should let you know what to do in a real carbon monoxide emergency.

First, make sure that you immediately turn off any appliances or equipment that might be causing carbon monoxide levels to rise. The levels will only build if those devices are left on, and this could be very dangerous.

Second, open windows and doors to increase ventilation to the area. However, don’t simply do this and remain where you are. Instead, get yourself to an outdoor area where there will be an abundance of clean air to breathe.

Third, once you’re out of the area, don’t go back in. Even if someone needs rescuing, you’ll be putting your life at risk by reentering.

Fourth, call the authorities! Instead of risking your life, let the authorities, who are qualified to deal with such a situation, do what they do best. A carbon monoxide leak is a serious event, and you need the right people to come in order to deal with it.

For more on keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide, take a look at our carbon monoxide detectors over at Crossfire Alarms.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide to be Present in an Environment?

If you’re aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and the reasons why it’s often referred to as “the Silent Killer”, then you may also wish to know what things can cause carbon monoxide to become present in an environment. Because we take carbon monoxide and its detection so seriously at Crossfire Alarms, we thought that we’d take this opportunity to educate the public on the different things that can create carbon monoxide during operation.

In general, any piece of equipment that relies upon combustion to operate can be a potential source of carbon monoxide. According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the most common sources of carbon monoxide in your home or place of work:

  • Furnaces and hot-water heaters
  • Gas-burning, wood-burning and charcoal-burning grills
  • Ranges and ovens, particular ones that use natural gas
  • Portable generators (which should never be operated indoors!)
  • Any vehicle with a gas-burning internal combustion engine
  • Space heaters that use fuel (which should never be operated indoors!)

Because any of these pieces of equipment can be a potential source of carbon monoxide, it’s important that they’re checked regularly to ensure that they’re operating properly. If any of these devices is potentially creating a carbon monoxide leak, the consequences can be disastrous and fatal.

In order to properly protect yourself from the many dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s important that you have carbon monoxide detectors and alarms present in your home and place of work. If you haven’t installed carbon monoxide detectors and alarms, then please reach out to Crossfire Alarms today. The ones that we’ve manufactured are truly state of the art, using multiple forms of detection and wireless communication. Their presence in your home or workplace could be the difference between life and death.

For more on keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide, take a look at our carbon monoxide detectors over at Crossfire Alarms.

What Are The Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

If you’ve never heard of carbon monoxide poisoning before, then listen up! It can have disastrous health consequences, and if it’s not detected early enough, it can be fatal. That’s why we take carbon monoxide poisoning very seriously here at Crossfire Alarms, and it’s why we wanted to take this opportunity to warn you about the symptoms you can look for.

If you suspect that someone around you is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, the symptoms will likely include the following:

  • A minor-seeming dull headache that’s accompanied by blurred vision
  • A general feeling of weakness or dizziness
  • Severe nausea, which could lead to vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
  • A feeling of confusion or delirium
  • The loss of consciousness

Of course, these are rather general symptoms that one might experience from carbon monoxide poisoning, and they could be the result of something else. For this reason, you’ll have to also consider the circumstances when determining whether or not someone is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

In general, you can expect carbon monoxide to present around any device or piece of equipment that requires combustion to operate. This is why, for example, cars are a frequent source of carbon monoxide. In addition, generators, grills, and gas ranges and stoves can be sources of carbon monoxide. If any of these devices is operating incorrectly, or is being operated in a poorly ventilated area, then carbon monoxide poisoning could be possible.

Of course, the only real way to know if carbon monoxide poisoning is happening is to use a detector. If you don’t already have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home or place of work, then why not purchase one from Crossfire Alarms? Ours are state of the art, and they can adequately protect you from even having to experience the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in the first place.

For more on keeping your home safe from carbon monoxide, take a look at our carbon monoxide detectors over at Crossfire Alarms.

What are the Effects of Smoke Inhalation?

A fire is nasty, but smoke can be even worse. You might think that the fire itself most often causes fire-related deaths, but this isn’t actually the case. Most often, it’s the smoke that wreaks the most havoc. For this reason, we thought it might be useful to go over the effects of smoke inhalation, if only to underscore the point that if there’s a fire within your home, then it’s important to get out!

When exposed to smoke, you will most likely develop a cough and have trouble breathing. There are a few different reasons for this, not the least of which is the smoke itself replacing oxygen in the environment (and the fire depleting it). Moreover, the smoke and any hazardous chemicals that may be in it will irritate your respiratory tract.

Smoke can affect more than your breathing, though. Because of the number of irritants present within smoke, you may experience irritation and redness in the eyes, as well as a change in your skin color. In addition, because of these factors and oxygen deprivation, you will likely experience a headache, which could accompany a significant deterioration in your mental faculties.

If you’re unable to leave an environment where a tremendous amount of smoke is present, these effects will only get worse as time moves on, and you could eventually risk losing your life. That’s why you should always seek a way to escape smoke that’s caused by a fire, and why you should stay close to the ground, where the smoke will be less prevalent.

Of course, we also recommend that your home and workplace be protected by a state-of-the-art smoke detector and alarm, like the ones we manufacture at Crossfire Alarms. These can help you to be alerted to smoke and a fire before the situation gets dire enough for you to experience the negative effects of smoke inhalation.