Make Your Home Safer

by jessicaturner on January 21, 2013

About 22 years ago, I attended a funeral I will never forget.

It was for a co-worker of my Dad’s. I didn’t know her. But she, her husband and her daughter’s lifeless bodies in three caskets in a row is an image burned in my memory.

It was right after Christmas when they all died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The father was found on the stairs, Christmas ornaments that he must have been carrying up to the attic, broken all around him.

The mom and daughter, just a few years younger than me, were in their beds.

It is because of this memory that I enthusiastically agreed to write a post on home safety, sponsored by Kidde Alarms. Safety is not something that should be taken lightly.

With us being in a new home, something Kidde made me realize is that we needed to make an emergency plan and do an emergency audit of our home. Elias has been talking about safety at school and it has amazed me how much he “gets it.”

We have been in our new home four months and had never tested the installed fire alarms. YIKES! Both functioned properly, thank goodness. Did you know that you are supposed to have smoke detectors in every room bedroom? We only have them in the upstairs and downstairs hallway and definitely will be getting more for the bedrooms.

Kidde offers worry-free alarms that detect both smoke AND carbon monoxide, which I think is brilliant. Their alarms also only use one battery for the life of the alarm to provide 24/7 fire safety protection, eliminating annoying low battery chirps and battery replacement. The alarms also have location-based attributes listed on the packages, making it easy to select the right alarm for the right area of your home. You can find these alarms at lots of stores including Home Depot. If you are in Nashville, you should go to the Safety Store at Monroe Carell Jr. Childen’s Hospital – they have all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms 50% off for the month of January.

A few safety tips from Kidde:

  • Create an emergency exit plan with two escape routes and a designated meeting place outside the home, and have your family practice it at least every six months. (Download a free family emergency preparedness plan here.)
  • Ensure all portable/space heaters are in safe working condition and placed at least three feet away from anything flammable, like furniture, curtains, clothing and paper.
  • Ensure every family members knows the sound of your smoke alarm (particularly if you get a new one!).
  • Place fire extinguishers throughout your home, including kitchens and bedrooms, and practice using it. If you haven’t replaced your extinguisher within the last 12 years, it’s time to buy a new one.
  • Ensure your house number is visible from the street.

I really hope this post encourages your family to do a safety audit. I know it encourage us!

I’m curious – how many smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors do you have in your home? Does your family have an emergency plan?

BONUS: If you like Kidde’s  Facebook page you can enter the “New Year, New Alarm” sweepstakes through 1/31 – the winner gets the entire line of Worry-Free Alarms. COOL!


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie j. January 21, 2013 at 6:48 am

We do have an escape plan! My sons preschool class talked about it and for homework one night they were supposed to practice. This was just the motivation we needed to decide what our plan would be and to talk with the kids about it. We have 4 fire alarms And a carbon monoxide detector.


Kelli January 21, 2013 at 6:54 am

yes when we taught my son about how to throw the ladder out of his window to climb down…things like this became very real. Great post. Check the dectectors and back up the computers on the same schedule you’ll be good! :)


Amy from Resourceful Mommy January 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

We bought a worry free alarm for my parents this year for Christmas because we loved the idea that they wouldn’t have to climb on ladders twice a year to change batteries. It was a decision that has given us peace of mind!


Sue January 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

We have wired in smoke detectors on all three levels – I keep meaning to check if they have battery backup or not (and to change the batteries if they do). I also have a carbon monoxide detector near our gas fireplace on the main. We actually don’t ever use the fireplace and the gas line to it is turned off). If we were to have a leak with the gas BBQ or the stove this should pick it up.

We don’t have an official escape plan – we need to work on that!! We have talked about going out the bedroom windows in the front of the house as they come out on a lower roof and it would be possible to jump from there without doing too much damage (hopefully). We should probably get a ladder for the back bedroom though. Thanks for the reminder!!


Jen Tapler January 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

We have 4 smoke detectors in our one-story, 3-bedroom house. They are wired into the electrical system, but have a backup battery in case the electricity goes out. There is a cool little light on all of them that is green if the battery is still good, it changes to red (and we’ll get the annoying beep) if the battery is low. We live in Hawaii and don’t have any type of gas source to our house, so don’t feel the need for the carbon monoxide detector – but I always wonder if there is one that I’m missing?? We only use our grill outside of course, we don’t have any kind of generator, and I can’t think of any other source of carbon monoxide for us. But I suppose this is something I should look into.


jessicaturner January 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I think it is worth getting one. Carbon monoxide doesn’t just come from gas.


Cara January 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Carbon monoxide for not only come from a gas source, so everyone should have a carbon monoxide detector in the home.

We have a smoke alarm in each bedroom and in our bathroom and hallway (one story small house so that covers almost everything:) and a carbon monoxide detector in our living room.

We recently talked to our 4 year old about our escape plan — I know we should have sooner! We talked about getting out of the house safely if the alarm goes off and that she should go to our neighbor’s front porch as our meeting area.
We live in earthquake country, so we had covered that safety plan a lot but hadnt talked about fires early enough — such a good reminder, Jessica!


Betsy January 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

We have a traditional 2-story w/ bedroom on the upper level. We have 5 smoke detectors (1 in each bedroom) and 1 in the hall, plus 2 on the main floor and 1 in the basement. We, also, have CO detectors on each level.
I did want to point out the best way to protect yourself from CO poisoning is to use high efficient furnaces and water heaters. We have a high efficient furnace and will get a direct vent water heater in the next 2 years.

There isn’t a possibility of CO poisoning with high efficient furnaces or water heaters since they vent directly outside.


jessicaturner January 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm

But there are still other possibilities for poisoning – ie: gas stoves, leaving your car running in your garage, etc. We can never be too careful.


Jody January 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Yes, and birds like to build nests in vents during the summer, which blocks the gas when you turn on the furnace as the weather cools.


Elizabeth January 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Yes and at least in my state Carbon monoxide detectors are required (however this is a new law and isn’t really looked at unless you sell your house). I think it is a good idea. We were just talking about this Saturday night and my husband did mention that our inspector when we bought our current house told him that the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector together were not the best mostly becaues you are asking one gadget to do to very important jobs and failure rate is higher. However having something is better than nothing. Just thought I would share that information (I haven’t looked into this further though).


Melanie A. January 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I always forget you are in Nashville. Thanks for the heads up about the Safety Store! We got new smoke detectors as wedding gifts, yes I registered for them :D, so it makes it easy for us to keep up with replacing them etc. We just bought new ones last year, but we need Carbon Monoxide ones.


Jody January 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

You can never have too many smoke detectors. If you can’t afford one, check with your local fire department. Most usually have some to give away. We’ve had two fires in my small town (less than 2,000) in the past three nights. Last night the only reason an elderly couple got out safe was because we happen to have police protection overnight and the cops on duty saw the flames in the attic and were able to get the couple out before it was too late.


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