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Do you Have these Lifesaving Devices in Your Home?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023



Whether you have new construction, an older home, an investment, or a vacation property. There are lifesaving devices that every home should have. Essential equipment to help you prevent or respond effectively to a variety of emergencies, if one were to arise.



Having been a Realtor for more than 2 decades, one thing I can say, with certainty. The home you purchased likely doesn’t have the recommended or best emergency equipment, at the ready. Devices to help control a fire, or help assist in a medical emergency. Depending on the age, your home may not even support some of the recommended features that are available with advanced devices, smoke detectors, and CO detectors, as one example. This article will introduce these essential lifesavers, their features, and the reasons you should have these devices on hand.


Recommended Fire Extinguishers: The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends that every home should have at least one ABC fire extinguisher, preferably one on each floor. This means they fight fires that burn (A) solid materials like drapes, and furniture, (B) flammable liquids, like gas and solvents, and (C) active electrical fires from malfunctioning heaters, appliances, etc. These extinguishers cover a wide range of fire types, but two things are worth mentioning. 1) Retailers carry ABC extinguishers but commonly fail to carry extinguishers that have the capacity recommended for residences, instead opting to carry a more portable extinguisher that is better suited for cars, campers, and boats. The NFPA recommends a 2-A:10-B: C extinguisher. The smaller extinguishers don’t have this rating. 2) ABC extinguishers are not rated to effectively extinguish oil and grease fires that can threaten your kitchen. Although these extinguishers may put out grease fires they may only work temporarily, these fires could re-ignite when using an ABC extinguisher due to the intense heat of a grease fire. In commercial kitchens where there is a potential for larger grease fires K Rated extinguishers are deployed that are specifically formulated for oil and grease fires.

Fire Blanket: A fire blanket is a fire and insulation-rated, flame-retardant blanket, capable of insulting or creating a barrier from heat or flame. The blankets can be thrown over small fires, like a small kitchen stove fire, extinguishing the fire by starving it of oxygen. It can also be used to wrap around a small child if you are forced to pass through an area that is extremely hot or that is actively burning. These blankets are usually 3x3 feet, so they will not adequately protect an adult. These blankets do not have expirations, they will not cause collateral damage to your home, and they may work better than an ABC extinguisher on kitchen oil or grease fires that ABC extinguishers are not rated for. As we discussed above, due to the tremendous heat, and the oil’s capacity to retain heat, the fire can re-ignite, rendering the ABC extinguisher ineffective.

Collapsible Fire Escape Ladder: If you have a two or three-story home you should have a collapsible fire escape ladder that is engineered to be compact and easy to use. This should be stored in an area that is a likely, upper level exit. All members of the home should understand its location as part of an overall fire escape plan explained in the link below. https://www.safehomediscoveries.com/post/elements-of-a-fire-escape-plan

Anti-Choking Device: These life-saving devices such as “LifeVac” have saved thousands of lives. Tragically there are 5,000 choking related deaths each year in the US. If the “Heimlich Maneuver” does not work, these devices may very well do the trick to dislodge the obstruction. Make sure your device includes adult and pediatric mouthpieces. These are generally recommended for use with children of approximately 20 pounds or more.

Burn Kit: A burn kit differs from a simple first aid kit, in that, it provides burn-specific items like, wet dressing to put over a burn, burn gels or creams, gloves to help reduce infection, and a safe or burn bag that can isolate the burn area and keep it clean and protected. Although a general first aid kit may have some of these items, they are not likely to have all these in one kit.

Basic First Aid: A basic first aid kit is a great foundation for a young family or anyone moving into a new home. It will give you a starter supply of items you may not have packed at your last location. Bandages, tape, wipes, common pain medication, antibiotic gels, and creams to help with bug bites, small cuts, and other conditions.

Trauma Kits: Trauma kits are not just beefed-up first aid kits. They can serve as a first line of defense for more serious injuries. Containing items to prevent serve blood loss, care for bone fractures and respiratory issues. This may be something to consider if you have a vacation home in the woods, where the potential for injury is greater, and the response of medical professionals may be longer than desired. A common issue in rural areas.

Smoke and CO detectors: Some of the detectors commonly sold in large retail outlets may not possess features best suited for you or recommended for use in the typical home. Many detectors use ionization for detection which is good for flame fires but not as good at detecting smoldering fires as the photoelectric sensors can be. Photoelectric sensors are generally thought to be less prone to false alarms. Some newer, more advanced models come equipped with path lights and some announce what level or location smoke is being detected. Others have specialty strobe lights for the hearing impaired. One important feature is interconnection. If one detector is set off the others in the home also sound the alarm so that people on the bedroom level are alerted to a fire detected on the basement level, as an example. Important caution; homes built before 1988 likely don’t have the critical 3rd wire in their electrical hardwired setup that allows for the detectors to talk to each other. This daisy chain requirement only became part of the universal building code in 1988. For homes that don’t have this 3rd wire, don’t panic. you can purchase wireless detectors that talk to each other via a mesh network, independent of your Wi-Fi. These come battery-operated and do not need that 3rd connecting wire or any wire for that matter.



This list of devices is certainly not an exhaustive list of emergency items that are available for home use. Each household may have certain needs and challenges that can be identified based on the age and health profile of the occupants. But the list discussed here goes a long way to keep your residence, vacation home, and investment property, safe and ready for many common household emergencies.


Plan for Safety,


Andy, Senior Editor



Sources: NFPA.org, https://www.chemguard.com/fire-suppression/catalog/dry-chemicals/, https://www.netatmo.com/security-guide/home-fire-extinguisher, https://www.badgerfire.com/Pages/FireExtinguishers.aspx, https://www.consumerreports.org/home-garden/fire-extinguishers/buying-guide/, https://anchorsafetyinc.com/2020/02/what-are-carbon-dioxide-fire-extinguishers-and-do-i-need-one/, https://www.thesilverlining.com/westbendcares/blog/tips-for-selecting-a-home-fire-extinguisher, https://blog.qrfs.com/180-a-guide-to-home-fire-extinguishers-types-and-placement/, https://www.lincolncounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/7740/How-to-Put-Out-a-Grease-Fire? https://www.consumerreports.org/home-garden/smoke-carbon-monoxide-detectors/buying-guide/, https:// bestreviews.com/home/safety/best-smoke-detectors, https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-media/Blogs-Landing-Page/NFPA-Today/Blog-Posts/2022/01/28/What-kind-of-smoke-alarm-smoke-detector-should-I-buy, https://www.firstalert.com/us/en/safetycorner/best-features-for-smoke-alarms/

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Jul 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great info!

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