Monday, 18 January 2021

Consider fire safety when remodeling homes

Thinking of remodeling your house? Safety features are the new feng shui.

As the housing market heats up, many people are choosing to remodel existing homes. New kitchens, bathrooms and granite and stainless steel everything are on the top of everyone’s list when planning a remodel. One feature often overlooked is the basic fire protection/warning devices and new safety systems that can be updated or installed during a remodel. Seldom do the home improvement reality TV shows display the latest wave of new and cutting-edge safety features. It is up to use to make safety improvement during your remodel, retrofit or new build as cool as ship lapping and distressed farm tables.

Smoke alarms

Unlike a fine wine or a vintage car, smoke alarms do not get better with age. It is an often-overlooked item when selling a house or upgrading fixtures in a house. Sure, you may have changed the batteries every six months during daylight savings time, but smoke alarms do have a life expectancy of 10 years. Smoke alarm technology has evolved to include some alarms that have long-life batteries installed to reduce the need to change batteries every six months. LTFR can assist qualifying residents with battery replacements and smoke alarm installations.

Carbon monoxide alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms are inexpensive but a vital feature to have in a home. Designed to monitor the level of carbon monoxide in your home, CO alarms also have a manufacturer recommended replacement age of five years. CO alarms can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are a small, but important feature every house should be equipped with. There are two elements to having a fire extinguisher in your home: maintaining a working extinguisher and knowing how to deploy the fire extinguisher during an actual fire.

Fire extinguishers often start out in the front of the kitchen cabinet. Over time, they find themselves deep in the back of the cabinet covered with mismatched Tupperware lids. From there, it is a downward spiral and when you or someone else needs the fire extinguisher you cannot immediately access it or it has lost its charge. Ensure charged fire extinguishers are kept front and center and accessible at all time. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for replacement.

In most cases, the fire extinguishers are not used as designed. The user gets caught up in the moment and forgets the four basic steps to fire extinguisher use. Remember PASS:

• Pull pin — Pull pin at the top of the extinguisher, breaking the seal.

• Aim — Approach the fire standing at a safe distance.

• Squeeze — Squeeze the handles together to discharge the extinguishing agent inside.

• Sweep — Sweep the nozzle toward the base of the fire

LTFR offers free fire extinguisher safety classes using a fire extinguisher simulator. We’d love to attend your next community gathering, HOA meeting or civic event and provide each community member a chance to improve their fire extinguisher deployment skills.

Residential fire sprinklers

Fire sprinkler systems have been used for almost a century and are currently present in most public buildings; however, most people don’t realize this lifesaving technology is actually available for residential homes. One study by the National Fire Protection Agency over a period from 2002 to 2006 found that houses equipped with both a sprinkler system and smoke alarms experienced 100 percent fewer deaths, 57 percent fewer injuries and 32 percent less property damage than houses only equipped with smoke alarms. Additionally, homeowners who install fire sprinklers typically experience a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance premium. estimated that in 2013, the average cost of sprinklers was $1.61 per square foot, according to the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Considering the significant safety benefits, it’s one of the best prevention methods against fires, and over time, it may even save homeowners money.

Lightning strike protection

During the five-year period of 2007-11, NFPA estimates that U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires started by lightning per year. These fires caused an estimated average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Lightning strike protection can be installed in a day by a qualified electrician and provides the homeowner with an added level of protection.

Establishing a defensible space

If redesigning your landscape is in your future, consider starting the process with ensuring you are including a defensible space around your home. LTFR provides free home risk assessments and can help educate you on choosing drought tolerant landscaping and vegetation setbacks to ensure you provide a margin of wildfire safety around your house.

If you would like more information on any of the cool and updated safety systems on the market or want to schedule training on any of the products, contact us today! We can schedule a free in-home safety visit and offer recommendations to consider during your next project. Drop us on message at or call us at 512-266-2533.

Robert Abbott is the Lake Travis Fire Rescue chief.

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