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Where There’s Smoke…?

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Necessary home improvements
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As food spilled in our oven and smoke sifted out, I wondered why our smoke detectors didn’t go off. It wasn’t a fire, but a thin layer of smoke filled the kitchen and trailed into the rest of the house. A good warning that those smoke detectors don’t last forever…or maybe we need new batteries.

When we bought the house, we had an electrical contractor redo all the old wiring and hard wire in the smoke detectors. A big home improvement investment, but a must for fire safety. Now we have to revisit that contractor’s work and also make sure the smoke detectors are in good shape.

Home Improvement and Fire Safety

Fire safety is an important topic this time of year as people rush about with the holidays, extra lights outside and Christmas trees aglow. Here are some common sense things to check–never hurts to remind yourself:

  • Smoke detectors. Change the batteries every year whether they chirp or not.
  • Make an escape plan. Know how to get out. This government website offers some fire safety planning tips.
  • Involve the kids. The U.S. Fire Administration for Kids website is a good resource.
  • Check your wiring. Might need a contractor for this, but have it inspected, particularly if you’re buying the house. Here’s a home improvement thread from This Old House on whether to replace wiring.
  • Don’t overload circuits. Find out how much each circuit can handle. In a kitchen, for example, the refrigerator and dishwasher should be on separate circuits.
  • Unplug. When you to out of town, make sure to pull the plug on TVs, toaster ovens, and any other appliance when you go out of town. Just in case.

Contractor or Not?

Most of these fire safety projects do not require a contractor, which is nice. We plan to have the electrical contractor check our smoke detectors just in case, but you can do most of these projects. Give yourself some peace of mind. Make a fire safety plan and get it done. Better safe than sorry.

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