Whatever your hobby is, there is a certain amount of equipment that you should have on hand. If you are a hunter, you probably need some outdoor gear as this is where most hunting takes place, I assume. If you are a runner, you probably need a pretty good pair of running shoes. If you are a homeowner, there are a few pieces of equipment that you should have to keep your home as safe as possible.
The single, most important piece of safety equipment that you can have in your home is the smoke alarm. Smoke alarms were first introduced in the early 1970s and have been very responsible for reducing the number of fire-related deaths in the United States. Smoke alarms provide early warning of a fire in your home and can usually provide you with enough time to exit safely.
You should have at least one fire extinguisher in your home, and the kitchen is the ideal place for it, as most home fires start in the kitchen. You can have more than one, and other great places to have them include the basement, the garage and the upper floor of your home. The extinguisher should be rated for “A, B and C” classes of fire, as those are the classes that are in most homes. Most home fire extinguishers work on the “PASS” principle, which stands for Pull the pin or tape out of the way, Aim the extinguisher at the base of the flames, Squeeze the handle (or button) down, and then Sweep the extinguishing agent from side to side, completely covering the burning fuel.
Flashlights are important to have for many instances. They are good to keep near your bed to help find the way through smoke if you wake up to the sound of your smoke alarm. They also come in handy when the power goes out in your home. Make sure you check the flashlights regularly and replace or recharge the batteries when they get low.
Escape ladders, available from most home improvement and hardware stores, should be available to those who sleep above the ground level in the home. They store compactly in their box and can be kept in a closet or under a bed until needed. When needed, simply deploy the ladder out of the window, hooking the window sill in the bedroom, and then climb down. They are available in two- and three-story models.
Carbon monoxide alarms are now much more affordable than they used to be and give off far fewer false alarms than when the technology was new. These alarms must be in addition to smoke alarms unless you know that you have purchased the combined smoke alarm/carbon monoxide alarms available. Carbon monoxide is the byproduct of incomplete combustion, given off by your gas-fueled appliances, such as the dryer, stove and furnace. I recall an incident when an elderly resident forgot to shut her car off inside her garage after returning from shopping. The carbon monoxide alarm went off a few hours later, saving her life when she called us to investigate.
Enjoy your hobbies and get the equipment you need to appreciate your leisure-time activities. But to make sure you have a place to “go home” to, get the safety equipment needed to give you the best chances of survival and safety in your home.
Tom Kiurski is training coordinator for the Livonia Fire Department.