Life Safety Tools

Jul 08, 2021

In this week's video we cover tips on and placement suggestions for life safety equipment in your home. We cover tips on smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.

Welcome back to the HT2 channel. I am Kelly and I will be walking you through today’s video. Today we cover tips on life safety equipment for your home.

Every home is unique and as such the number of devices you need will be dependent upon the numbers of floors and rooms in your home. In general, every home needs at least one ABC type of Fire Extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector for every floor of your home and smoke detectors placed outside of each sleeping area and in each bedroom.

Let’s take a deeper diver into each life safety device. We will begin with the fire extinguisher. As I just stated, you need an ABC type of fire extinguisher on each floor of your home. The ABC type of fire extinguisher is designed to extinguish combustible, liquid, and electrical types of fires. Kitchens present the greatest risk for fire and thus should have a fire extinguisher nearby. You might think that you should store the extinguisher near the stove, however you would be better off storing it near the exit, so you prevent placing the fire between you and the exit.

Speaking of kitchens, when cooking on a stovetop make sure to have the appropriate pot or pan lid nearby. If a fire occurs in the pot or pan you can simply place the lid on top of the pot or pan and then extinguish the heat source and the fire will likely go out on its own. Do not try to move the ignited pot or pan to the sink or outside. You put yourself at great risk and could inadvertently start another fire.

You should check the fire extinguisher monthly to ensure that the unit is in good working order by looking at the overall unit and the gauge on the front of the device and confirming that the needle is pointed to the “green” full section of the gauge. If the needle is pointing to the “red” empty section, you should replace the unit. In some cases, the retardant may have settled to the base of the extinguisher and if you shake the unit the retardant may return to a working condition, however you may choose to err on the side of caution and replace the unit after all.

You should teach your family how to respond to fires and how to use a fire extinguisher. To learn how to use a fire extinguisher you can simply do an internet search for “How to use a fire extinguisher” and include the “PASS” acronym, which stands for pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the trigger, and sweep the nozzle at the base of the fire.

Whenever you encounter a fire, you should call 911 immediately and then assess if you are able to extinguish the fire. You are the best person to determine if you can extinguish the fire based upon its size and your comfort level. If you are uncomfortable, then you should exit immediately and let the professionals extinguish the fire.

Of course, you should have two means of exit from every room in your home, which may require use of a window to escape. Make sure to have those plans in place prior to the occurrence of a fire.

Now let’s move onto the smoke detectors. As I mentioned earlier, you need to have smoke detectors on each floor of your home and at least one unit outside of sleeping areas and in each bedroom.

You can choose to have a wired or wireless interconnecting system, which will detect fires throughout the home and alert all of the smoke detectors. This is particularly helpful if you have a large home or multiple floors.

There are also different types of detection systems: Heat Detectors, Ionization smoke detectors, photoelectric smoke detector, and Ionization/Photoelectric Smoke Detector. Heat detectors detect the presence of heat and an increase in air temperature. These detectors have few false alarms but, they take longer to identify a fire than a smoke detector. They’re ideal in situations where smoke detectors may cause false alarms such as steamy, humid, or dusty environments. Infrequently occupied areas like storage facilities, warehouses, or machine rooms also use these types of detectors.

Ionization smoke detectors have a constant electrical current that occurs between two metal plates in the device. When smoke enters the chamber it disrupts the electrical current and causes the alarm to sound. These detectors are excellent at detecting fast burning fires.
Photoelectric smoke detectors have a beam of light in the device and when smoke scatters the light it causes the alarm to go off. This type of device is quicker to identify small smoldering fires than an ionization smoke detector. They’re extremely reliable and produce few false alarms.

A combination smoke detector is the best way to protect your home and its occupants from a fire. When both forms of smoke detection are together on one device it helps to ensure that regardless of the type of fire, it will be detected as soon as possible.

With all smoke detectors you should follow the manufacturers recommendations on maintenance and replacement. Many of the manufacturers will recommend monthly testing and replacement of the batteries every six months. At that time, it is often recommended that you use the hose attachment on your vacuum to remove build up and dust on the detection’s sensors. Generally, the units will last for between 5 to 10 years, depending upon the brand.

Finally, we will cover the carbon monoxide detectors. As was mentioned earlier, you need to have them on every floor of your home and the NFPA recommends you place them outside of sleeping areas. The NFPA also recommends interconnected devices for maximum safety, as when one alarm sounds, they all do.

You should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on installation and maintenance. Generally, they are installed at least 5 feet above the ground or on the ceiling as carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame producing appliance. It is better to place them within 20 feet of said appliances.

The carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years. The detectors have a test button to ensure they are in working order and should be tested monthly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing. If you don’t have the instructions, you can access them online. You should also change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors every six months.