Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Importance of Fire Prevention Month: Fire Safety Tips from The Home Depot and our City Fire Chief

Recently, Big Sister E and I had the chance to attend a Safety and Security workshop at The Home Depot and learn about the great tips and products that are available there when it comes to fire safety and outdoor lighting.

After taking in the important information that they shared about preparing and protecting our home, we took the time to browse the large amount of items available and I was equal parts impressed and bewildered by the choices. Have I just never paid attention to know that there are smoke alarms designed specifically for hallways, living areas, kitchens and more?

smoke alarms

And the fire extinguishers? Do we have one already? If so, I guess I don't know where it is...

fire extinguishers

Yikes! Having always thought that we were doing a decent job keeping our home and family safe, suddenly I wasn't so sure.

Fortunately, the workshop and products at The Home Depot were the perfect start (as well as the great info on their website about identifying and fixing fire hazards) to put us on the right track to making the necessary changes to our home and lives. The next step?

Bringing in a real expert to tell us more!

fire truck

It is definitely not every day that the Fire Chief pays a visit to your home, so we were all pretty excited when Chief Harris arrived to impart some of his vast knowledge about what homeowners should do to make sure that their home is properly protected from fire and carbon monoxide.

As we walked through our home, there were some topics that were covered where I found myself nodding... and some where I realized that Gee, why haven't I thought of that before?

kitchen safety

In the kitchen, Chief Harris immediately pointed out that we keep miscellaneous papers and items right next to the stove — sure enough, there were multiple pieces of paper and a book right there next to it.

As he was discussing the importance of keeping pot handles pointed inward and not having items hanging on the refrigerator if it is right next to the stove (because they could fall right onto the burners), it also made perfect sense that my clutter right next to the heat is easily encouraging a fire to start.

Looking inside the stove, we discussed the need to clean out larger pieces of food from the bottom before running the self-cleaning program as well as how the stove is not the only appliance in the kitchen that can lead to home fires. I never would have thought of the dishwasher or coffeepot as posing dangers, but Chief Harris told us that they commonly lead to them due to plastic items falling into the bottom of the dishwasher or a short circuit occurring with the heating element in the coffeemaker.

After discussing the lack of a smoke alarm in our kitchen (which seems pretty illogical, considering all of the ways that a fire could start in there), we also chatted about that missing fire extinguisher that we don't have, as well as how and why to mount it in an easily accessible location. What good does a fire extinguisher do in a cupboard near the stove when there are flames shooting out and you can't get close enough to the cupboard to actually get the extinguisher out?

fire safety tips

As we moved throughout more rooms of the house, I appreciated the way that Chief Harris was honest and factual, while also making sure that all of us understood the importance of the messages he was passing along.

While my girls weren't as interested in hearing about hidden hazards such as thin or damaged electrical cords, overloaded outlets, the need for carbon monoxide alarms on each level of the home, scheduling regular cleanings of chimneys, flues, furnaces and dryer vents at least once a year, and more... I noticed that Big Sister E was especially listening carefully when it came to many other tips, such as:
  • Place working smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside each bedroom. Chief Harris mentioned that he probably had around 20 in his own home!
  • Keep entrances and exits clear (meaning the toys sitting right outside the door to our deck should be moved!) as well as checking to make sure that sliding doors aren't frozen shut or blocked by snow in the winter.
  • Be very careful with torchiere-type lamps, as anything from window coverings to paper airplanes could end up resting on the fluorescent or halogen light bulbs and start on fire.
  • Keep the door to attached garages tightly shut, as homes are built with a firewall separating the two that will stop a fire in the garage from getting into the house... unless you leave the door cracked open.
  • As well as changing smoke alarm batteries twice a year in coordination with Daylight Saving Time, you should test your smoke alarms at least once every month to make sure they work.
  • While the idea behind the "no hassle for 10 years" smoke alarms makes sense, using them tends to lead to people forgetting about their smoke detectors after a few years and not testing them often enough. Instead, replace your smoke alarms every 10 years and keep up with regular testing and battery replacement!
  • It is very common for children to sleep through the sound of a fire alarm, as their brain manages to incorporate the blaring sound into a dream. Therefore, the smoke alarms that also include a voice component are a great option.
Big Sister E was also happy to discuss what she knew about our fire escape plan, our family's safe meeting place, and what to do in the event of a fire in the middle of the night. While I'm happy knowing both girls know the importance of getting out of the house and going directly to our neighbor's house across the street, when Chief Harris asked Big Sister E if we practice our fire escape plan (also know as EDITH: Escape Drill In The Home), my brain froze.

How have we never once considered actually practicing what we've talked about to make sure that the girls really understand what to do? They both participate in fire drills in school, why would I not think to do one at home?

After Chief Harris discussed the specifics (e.g. staying low on the ground and touching the door to see if it is hot)...

fire safety drill

...we were sure to have both girls demonstrate all that they had learned and I was happy to see that they had really been paying attention!

By the time that Chief Harris left, I felt as though we were all much more prepared... while, at the same time, my mind was racing thinking about all of the what-if situations that could easily have occurred over the years that we have lived here. I'm so thankful that he was able to visit and spend time with us!

fire visit

All in all, The Home Depot has really opened my eyes to the many ways that we were putting our home and family in danger and I'm so glad that we were able to truly take part in this year's Fire Prevention Month! My husband and I have a list of changes that we are working on making in the immediate future and I know that we will be taking multiple trips back to The Home Depot to pick up many of their high quality fire safety products.

This October and beyond, I plan on implementing The Home Depot and Fire Chief Harris' information and tips to help keep my family and home as safe as possible. What could be more important? Be sure to visit to find out more of their fire safety information and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter as well.

The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me to help promote Fire Safety Awareness Month. As part of this promotion, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used. The Home Depot believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.


ReviewsSheRote said...

WOW--this post was FULL TO THE BRIM with some great info--some I've herd before , other--like the bottom of the dishwasher were eye openers for me!!
Thanks for sharing, PS I think its pretty cool to have the fireman come and walk through your home!!

mommyisshopping said...

Thank you for posting this excellent and extremely informative fire safety tip information. We are taking my daughter's Brownie Troop to our local firehouse early next month. I hope they cover many of these topics.

Liz Mays said...

The photo of his fire gear makes me think he melted!

I can't believe he has 20 smoke alarms, but I also can't believe you didn't have one in your kitchen. What the heck? You'd better have one in there by the time I put a period at the end of this sentence.

Unknown said...

I love Home deot. They have so many ideals for Family and Home. This is great that they now have a fire safty memo for us all! I thought that I had all safty issues in order untill I read this!