Recommended Residential Fire Safety Essentials

BHFD-Fire Safety Essentials

One of the most important steps in making your home fire safe, is to assure that you have the proper equipment installed. Below is a list of the most commonly recommended items that can help you and your family in the event of a fire.

Smoke Alarms/Smoke Detectors-

Each year in the United States, roughly 2,500 people die in home fires, with an additional 13,000 injuries. Most of these deaths occurred in homes that did not have a working smoke alarm. Smoke alarms provide early warning of fire, giving occupants a better chance to escape unharmed. The relatively low cost and lifesaving potential make the decision to buy and install smoke alarms an easy one.

Standard Types

         1) Battery Operated

         2) Hardwired

Battery Operated- Battery operated smoke alarms are inexpensive and easy to install. It is recommended that you change the batteries twice a year. Most battery-operated alarms work independently and will not trigger other alarms, while some models sync wirelessly with other alarms throughout the house.

Some smoke alarms are offered with a 10-year Lithium battery, eliminating the need to change batteries twice a year.

Additional features that can be found in certain models include a safety light, wireless linking to another alarms in the house, and a voice alarm that helps awaken sleeping children. Some models also have a location feature that will actually tell you what part of the home is in danger. To see these features, including the “Child Awakening” models, click here to visit

Hardwired- While typically slightly more expensive than battery operated models, hardwired smoke alarms are designed to be easy to install, easy to maintain, and can provide years of virtually maintenance-free protection.

It’s important to note that laws in many states are requiring hardwired smoke alarms in all new residential construction.

Sensor Type-

         1) Ionization

         2) Photoelectric

         3) Dual Sensor

The three types of alarms available today are ionization, photoelectric, and dual sensor (carries both ionization and photoelectric sensors). Ion alarms are triggered by moving particles, whereas the photoelectric responds to smoke.
Most manufactures also produce an alarm specifically recommended for kitchen use, utilizing the photoelectric sensor to reduce the frequency of false (nuisance) alarms.Bottom Line- Some reports show that ionization sensors may respond slightly faster to flaming fires, whereas photoelectric sensors may respond slightly faster to smoldering fires. For that reason, most manufacturers now offer a dual sensor model for added protection.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

A carbon monoxide alarm, sometimes referred to as a CO detector, is a device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide (CO) gas early enough to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide, sometimes referred to as the “silent killer,” is a colorless and odorless compound produced by incomplete combustion. It is virtually undetectable without using a detection devise. Elevated levels of CO can be extremely dangerous to humans. CO detectors are designed to measure CO levels and sound an alarm before levels of CO become dangerous.


Standard Types-

         1) Battery Operated

         2) Hardwired

         3) Plug-in with Battery Backup

It is important to note that Carbon Monoxide Alarms are not smoke alarms, nor vice versa.


Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms

2-in-1 Protection

Growing in popularity are the combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Available in both battery operated and hardwired. While higher priced than a standard smoke detector, they price out typically less than buying two separate units, one smoke alarm and one carbon monoxide alarm.

Safety Ladder-

Often overlooked, fire escape ladders are essential for any multi-level home. Escape ladders usually come in two and three-story models, and easily deploy from a standard windowsill. Escape ladder typically come folded for compact storage, but fully assembled and ready to use.


Fire Extinguishers-

With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for your home can be difficult. It’s just as important to have one in your home, as it is to ensure you have the proper type of fire extinguisher. It is typically recommend that every home have one in the kitchen, the garage and workshop.


We strongly recommend the use of a fire extinguisher should only be preformed by an adult who is trained on its proper use and maintenance.


Traditional Fire Extinguishers-

Traditional Fire Extinguishers are divided into categories (Class A-D), based on different types of extinguishing agents used. Some are effective on ordinary combustibles (Class A), while others are more effective on flammable liquids, electrical wiring or cooking oils.

We recommend looking for one that is specifically designed for home use, and rated for multiple kinds of typical household fires.


Fire Resistant Lock Box/Safe-

Protecting Your Valuables-

While you won’t find a fireproof lock box on everyone’s list of “must have fire safety items,” we’ve listed it for the potential value if ever your home is severely damaged by a fire. Losing everything can be hard enough without losing important documents and irreplaceable items. Insurance papers, birth certificates and other documents can easily be stored in the smaller lock box, as can items such as coins, stamp collections, family photos, jewelry and more.

Bottom Line- It won’t cost you a lot to purchase one, yet it will be priceless to you if you ever experience a fire in your home.

Please Remember-None of these items will do you any good if purchased after a fire starts. You, and the lives of your family, are worth the small investment of time and money to improve the safety of your home.

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