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8 Fundamentals of Fire Safety

Don't let your home go up in flames by ignoring these tips

8 Ways to Make Your Place Secure for Your Elderly Parents

Nick Ferrari

Tip 5: Beware of overload.

1. Don't get alarm lazy. Make sure you've got ionization and photoelectric alarms on every floor, including the basement. When the alarm chirps, replace the battery.

2. Do get a multisensory device. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may need an alarm that flashes or vibrates to alert you that something is amiss.

3. Banish old space heaters. They can lower your utility bills, but they're also a prime cause of home fires. Buy a new model that turns off automatically if it tips over or gets overheated.

4. Toss after 10. Problems with electric blankets and heating pads tend to occur when they're more than 10 years old. Replace if they have charred spots, they have frayed or cracked electrical cords, or they're a decade or more old.

5. Beware of overload. Older homes may not be equipped to handle today's stash of electronics. Overburdened systems can spark fires. Replace, don't repair, damaged electrical cords.

6. Tend to the furnace. Faulty fireplaces and woodstoves are prime hazards. Have a trained professional inspect your system, especially if it's been a while. Generators should also be checked, ideally every year.

7. Practice makes protection. Have an escape plan, and practice it. Any plan should have two ways out of every room; make sure windows and doors open easily. Remember: Stay low, and go.

8. Smoking nos. Smoking-related fires cause the most fire deaths in the U.S. It's best not to smoke inside your house, but fires can start outside, too. Dampen butts and ashes before throwing them away.

From "99 Great Ways to Make Your Home Healthier and Safer"

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