Fire safety in your home
Safety from fire is non-negotiable. Every year people die because they don’t have adequate warning of a household fire, so for your safety install smoke alarms throughout the bedrooms, lounge and hallways of your house. Check them at least every six months to ensure they’re working. When the battery in an alarm is starting to run down the alarm will emit an intermittent chirruping or series of beeps. It’s not a bird in the roof. It’s the smoke alarm! Replace the battery immediately for safety.
There are two common types of household smoke alarm on the market — photoelectric and ionisation alarms. They are readily available in hardware stores. Photoelectric alarms are activated when smoke interrupts a light beam. Although more expensive than ionisation alarms, they’re considered by many to be more reliable and better early detectors of smoldering fire. If you are warned before the fire bursts into flame you have more chance to leave the building in time. Ionisation alarms are cheaper. When smoke enters the device it changes the ions in radioactive material in an internal chamber, triggering an internal change in the electric current, which activates the alarm sound. These work well in fast-burning (flaming) fires.
For the hearing-impaired, there are light/sound alarms available that can be wired in throughout the house. These flashing alarms can be wired in tandem so that if one goes off in one room all the others go off as well. There are even smoke detectors with built-in radio transmitters that cause a receiver unit to activate a bed shaker, causing the bed to vibrate!
Keep a small multi-purpose fire extinguisher near the kitchen for small fires. You may be able to keep fire damage to a minimum by using an extinguisher, but your success will depend on knowing how to use the device and on how well it is maintained.
KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER. THERE WILL NOT BE TIME TO READ INSTRUCTIONS WHEN A FIRE IS RAGING.
Fire extinguishers are rated according to the type of fire they’ll extinguish:
CLASS A: put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as paper and wood.
CLASS B: put out fire involving flammable liquids such as grease, oil or petrol.
CLASS C: put out fires in electrical devices.
When choosing one for your household, get expert advice and buy one that'll cover most fire types.
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