Safety Alarms and Tools to Keep Your Family Safe

Thursday, November 27, 2014

red-fire-extinguisherFew things are more important in life than family members. Sometimes just a few smart choices can make all the difference when it comes to their safety in your home.

Smoke Alarms or Detectors

In Alberta, smoke detectors are required by law. According to the Government of Canada, eight Canadians die in home fires every week. The main cause of death is smoke inhalation—something that could be prevented by taking a few simple precautions.


  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home including the basement and outside each bedroom or sleeping area
  • Ensure that your smoke alarms are up to date and that each detector has a button to allow you to test the alarm
  • Test your smoke alarms every month to ensure they are working correctly
  • Change the batteries in every one of your smoke detectors twice a year
  • Replace your alarms every ten years

There are two types of smoke detectors available in Canada:

  • Ionization: These smoke alarms are great for detecting fires that spread quickly and consume combustible materials.
  • Photoelectric: These detectors can detect slow-building fires that could burn for hours before bursting into flames.

It’s not a bad idea to install both types of smoke detectors to ensure you’re alerted to any kind of fire. Regardless of what type of smoke alarms you choose to put in your home, it’s important that they adhere to the performance standards set by the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC).

Fire Extinguishers

Along with smoke detectors, you need to ensure that your home is equipped with at least two fire extinguishers. Keeping a fire extinguisher handy can make the difference between a small, manageable fire and a fast, flaming one. Here’s what you need to consider when buying extinguishers for your home:

  • Check to make sure that your extinguisher has been labelled by a testing laboratory recognized under the Alberta Fire Code
  • Look at the number rating on the extinguisher—the higher the rating, the more fire it puts out
  • Ensure that you can comfortably hold and operate your extinguisher
  • Confirm that you know how the extinguisher works
  • Store your extinguisher away from potential fire hazards and near escape routes
  • Before reaching for your extinguisher, do a quick evaluation of your situation. Ask yourself:
  • Has the fire department been contacted?
  • Is the extinguisher large enough for the fire?
  • Is the fire contained?
  • Do I have the right type of extinguisher?
  • Are there two safe exits from the area?
  • Can I put the fire out in 5 seconds?

If you answer ‘No’ to any of these questions, don’t use the extinguisher! Instead, leave the building immediately - shutting all doors as you do (this will help slow the spread of fire). Once you have safely exited the building, dial 911.

Sprinkler Systems

Sprinkler systems are increasing in popularity as home values continue to rise. They provide 24-hour protection from fire. A sprinkler system can control, contain and even douse fires in your home. Sprinklers are heat-triggered and only flames or high heat will cause them to release. Installing a sprinkler system in your home can not only help to protect your family, but also reduce your insurance premiums.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is colourless, odourless and tasteless. That’s why it’s known as the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood don’t burn completely. This can happen in furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, barbeques, generators or vehicles.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms—headaches, nausea and dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and in some cases, death. Without proper ventilation, there’s a chance that carbon monoxide could build up in your home, putting you and your family at risk. Here’s how you can ensure your safety:

  • Install a certified carbon monoxide detector in your home to warn you of a carbon monoxide leak
  • Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector twice a year
  • Test your carbon monoxide alarms every month by pressing the test button
  • Make sure you know the difference between the sound of your smoke alarm and that of your carbon monoxide alarm
  • Prevent carbon monoxide buildup at the source—regularly maintain your fuel burning appliances, equipment and ventilation systems

Remember: smoke alarms do not detect carbon monoxide, just as carbon monoxide detectors do not detect smoke. It is crucial that your home is equipped with both types of alarms. It’s better to be safe than sorry. By taking these precautionary measures, you can rest easy knowing that you and your family are protected in the comfort of your own home.

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