Monday, May 3, 2010

Safety First

Well…it appears I’ll be posting from my Aunt’s house for the next few days as our development is essentially underwater (not a typo or exaggeration, unfortunately).  If you’ve caught any of the national news lately you may have heard of the flooding in Nashville over the weekend.  I’m afraid my little townhouse caught some of the brunt of it, although considering the devastation in our area it could have been much worse.  

The picture above is my development, but dozens of our neighbors lost their homes entirely yesterday and my Aunt’s wonderful school is waist deep in water.  It’ll be a few days before we can go back and assess the full damage because our neighborhood is only accessible by boat at the moment (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say).  It’s been a sobering couple of days, but I’m so thankful everyone in my family is safe and unharmed.  Not surprisingly, all I can think about today, as far as home design is concerned, is safety.  I love making spaces beautiful (it’s one of my favorite things in fact) but at the end of the day even lovely things are just things.  It’s sad when they break, burn, or get submerged in six feet of water, but they can be replaced.  Here are some tips on protecting the truly precious things in your home- your family.


As I’ve found out over the past few days there are some things you can do before a flood occurs, but not too much after it starts.  That’s why it’s extremely important to make preparations in advance.  Keep an emergency kit with a battery-powered portable radio, flashlights with working extra batteries, clean drinking water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and prescription medicines on hand.  Know what kind of risk your area has of flooding, but even if you’re told you have a 0.01% chance (which is what we were told before this fiasco) you should have a flood evacuation plan in place.  For planning purposes, check out Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Hazard Map.  If there’s one thing I can tell you about the past few days it’s that, even when I was packing to evacuate, I never in a million years thought that the flood would actually do as much damage as it has.  Prepare and plan for the worst and you’ll be much better off!


When’s the last time you checked your fire alarms?  If it was more than a month ago, it’s time to do it again (then once a month from now on).  Batteries must be replaced once a year, and some experts recommend replacing smoke alarms altogether every ten years.  Sure, alarm maintenance can be annoying, but a study by the National Fire Prevention Association showed that 1/3 of the homes with fires that had smoke alarms were destroyed because the alarms weren’t working.  It’s an easy statistic to avoid being part of, all it takes is a little responsibility.  

When choosing a fire alarm for your home keep in mind that different models detect different types of fires.  Ionization models are better at alerting you to kitchen and grease fires that burn fast and move quickly while Photoelectric models detect smoldering fires.  Be sure to choose a model that utilizes both types of sensors like this First Alert Smoke Alarm, or carefully place different types around the house based on what types of fires are more likely to occur there.  

There’s a whole lot involved in fire safety, from discussing an evacuation plan to familiarizing your family with basic procedures like feeling a door to see if it’s hot before opening it.  Fire alarms are important, but they’re only part of the bigger picture.  Make sure your family knows what to do in the event that the alarms go off.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas caused by the incomplete burning of fuels.  To avoid a leak make sure appliances are installed by qualified professionals and inspected annually.  Never operate a gasoline engine-powered tool in or near an enclosed space, even with open doors and windows.  Check your chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, disconnections and loose connections.  Because Carbon Monoxide is undetectable to the human senses, the only way to guard your family is by installing a CO alarm near every separate sleeping area of the house.  It may seem like you’re racking up a lot of money in various alarms, but it’s worth it.  The best possible scenario is that you’ll never need any of them, but you’ll certainly sleep better and be better prepared in an emergency situation.


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