Special to The Explorer
In a bind for last-minute gifts? Want it to be something that shows you care? How about a gift that could save someone’s life?
While your family’s needs may require additional safety devices, Northwest Fire District firefighters recommend these basic items be in every home:
1. Smoke detectors and batteries. Most fatal fires occur at night, often with victims dying of smoke inhalation without ever waking. Working smoke detectors alert your family and provide extra time to escape safely. Install smoke detectors on every floor and outside every sleeping area. Check them once a month and change batteries according to manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Carbon monoxide detector. Odorless, colorless and tasteless, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. This toxic gas is produced whenever fuel is burned, including in automobiles and home appliances such as furnaces, clothes dryers and ovens. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector, preferably outside your sleeping area, to warn you if carbon monoxide levels in your home become too high.
3. Electrical strip adapters with circuit interrupters. Throw away plain plastic adapters that allow you to plug several electrical items into a single outlet. Replace them with adapters that have a circuit breaker to shut off the power to the appliances if the circuit becomes overloaded.
4. Fire extinguishers. Have extinguishers easily accessible in the kitchen, garage/utility room, autos and boat. Fire fighters recommend A-B-C extinguishers for home use. Make sure that your family members know how to use them.
5. First aid kit. It doesn’t have to be fancy; a shoebox will do. Include different sizes of bandages, tape, antiseptic ointment, syrup of ipecac, scissors and disposable gloves.
6. Night lights / sensor lights. Inexpensive nightlights can prevent costly falls. Place them away from any flammable materials. Outdoor motion lights discourage intruders and help you avoid hazards in the dark.
7. Flashlights. Keep flashlights and extra batteries where they can be easily reached in case of power outages or emergencies.
8. Sturdy step ladder. Use a step stool instead of a chair, counter or ledge to reach up high.
9. Tub and shower appliques, rubber-backed mats and grab bars. Prevent slips, when tubs, floors and feet are wet, with nonskid floor materials. Install grab bars and use them when getting in and out of the tub.
10. Handrails. Stairs and steps account for almost half of all fatal falls in the home. Using securely-mounted handrails on inside and outside steps can prevent falls.
If small children live in or visit the home, additional safeguards should include electrical socket protectors to keep small, curious fingers out and child resistant locks on kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Child gates can help keep small ones away from danger zones, such as stairs, but make sure that gate openings are no larger than 1-1/2 inches. Motion alarms are available for doors, and are an especially good idea for back doors that lead directly to a pool area.
For additional safety information, contact Northwest Fire District’s Prevention Office at 887-1010.