A Guide to Fire Safety Equipment
Fire safety awareness is incredibly important. But more than just knowledge is necessary for protection against fire hazards. Fire safety equipment consists of important tools that can help protect your home, your family, and your life. With recent destructive fires in California, it is more important than ever to have access to the most useful fire protection tools in the case of a wildfire. Here are the top 5:
1. Smoke Detectors
We all know about smoke detectors. There’s a good reason for that: they are cheap and easy devices that can make all the difference between life and death. It is estimated that the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half by having a smoke detector.
Smoke alarms detect smoke (not fire) through one of two technologies: photoelectric or ionization. In the case of smoke alarms that use ionization, there is a radioisotope within the device that ionizes the air, making smoke then detectable to the alarm. Photoelectric smoke alarms contain a source of infrared, visible, or ultraviolet light, along with a lens and photoelectric receiver. Generally the light source will be directed at the receiver and disturbances in light intensity from air particles are what trigger the alarm.
Though not a completely settled debate, recent research suggests that photoelectric smoke alarms are superior to their ionization counterparts.
It is incredibly important to check your smoke detectors regularly and replace the batteries if needed. Check your smoke detector once a month and replace its batteries at least twice a year.
2. Vulcan Vent
Most homes that burn due to a wildfire are ignited by embers, not flames. These embers can travel for miles through the air while still smoldering. They can then ignite flammable plant materials in your lawn or landscaping, or the exterior of your home if it is built from flammable material. Much overlooked though is the fact that they can enter a home through the vents, starting a fire within your home. The only way to prevent this is with an ember resistant vent such as the Vulcan Vent.
The Vulcan Vent is coated with a non-toxic material that will expand when exposed to flames to close up its entry holes, thus blocking heat from entering. Additionally it is made of highly heat resistant materials, and fine mesh that will stop embers from passing through.
The California Building Code requires new homes constructed in areas at high risk for wildfire hazard to include ember resistant vents such as the Vulcan Vent, but older homes need them as well for fire safety.
3. Fire Escape Ladders
A fire escape ladder is another invaluable fire safety tool that is relatively cheap and easy to come by. They are especially important in homes with two or more stories. If a path leading to the stairs is blocked due to flame, smoke, or fallen debris, a fire escape ladder allows a safe exit through the window.
It is important that you and the members of your household practice using your fire escape ladder before an actual fire. Practice during the daytime, and start by using it climb out of a ground story window before moving up to the second story.
4. Fire Extinguishers
Another incredibly familiar device to most people, a fire extinguisher is an invaluable tool used to fight fires. Most home fire extinguishers are nowhere near as powerful as the professional grade extinguishers used by firefighters, which are very expensive. However, home fire extinguishers are still very useful at putting out a small fire in its early stages. As with all the other devices in this list, it will only be useful if you know how to use it. Make sure to read the instruction manual if you buy a fire extinguisher, so that you are familiar with how it works before danger strikes.
5. Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Though not as common as a regular smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide detector is incredibly important. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a common lethal gas made all the more dangerous due to the fact that it’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Many different fuel burning devices can release dangerous levels of CO if they aren’t functioning correctly, along with house fires.
Like your smoke alarm, you will need to test and change the batteries of your carbon monoxide alarm.
We hope this list has been helpful. These tools can help keep your home and family safe from fires, and are of course especially important if you live in an area such as California which is at risk for wildfires. Though hopefully you’ll never have to use them, owning these devices and knowing how to use them can be a lifesaver.