If you’re interested in making your home safer, these two devices should top the list.
Fire’s a more common — and more dangerous — threat than burglary, so smoke alarms are essential.
Install at least one per floor, more if your house is sprawling. Battery operated alarms are effective. But alarms wired into the electrical system and wired together will warn you faster. When one goes, they all go. These alarms also include batteries so you’re protected during power failures. The ultimate system is connected to an outside monitoring service to protect your house even when you’re not at home.
Keep dry chemical fire extinguishers in key locations: at least in the kitchen, the basement, and the garage. Figure out how to use them now, so you’re not reading instructions under pressure.
Fire is one danger. Carbon monoxide (CO) is another.
CO is colorless, odorless, and lethal, and accounts for roughly half of fatal poisonings in North America.
It’s produced by car exhaust, gas and oil furnaces and water heaters, gas stoves, fireplaces and wood burning stoves — virtually anything that burns fuel. And today’s tighter homes increase the risk.
You can lessen the risk of buildup by checking your furnace and fireplace chimneys for blockages, changing your furnace filter, keeping charcoal grills and gas lamps outdoors, and periodically checking any indoor combustion equipment.
But to truly protect your family, install a CO detector. Like smoke detectors, they come in battery and electrical/battery forms, and some include smoke detectors. You can even wire some models to your furnace; they’ll shut down the furnace if it detects excess carbon monoxide.
Test all alarms regularly to make sure they’re working, and change batteries twice a year. You can always use the older batteries in toys or other gadgets.