Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness’ Category

Fire Extinguisher Know-How

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Fire Extinguisher Know-How | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County real estate | Barry TwynamHow many fire extinguishers do you have in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home? Do you know how to use them? Have they been re-charged recently? We are often told that the switch to or from Daylight Saving Time is a good time to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Maybe it’s also a good time to do something about fire extinguishers.

How Many?

If you have only one fire extinguisher in your home… well, that’s better than none, but ideally, there should be one close to every heat source, or anywhere you might be using an open flame. So, one in the kitchen for sure. One in the family room or living room if you have a fireplace or regularly burn candles. One in the garage, and one near the barbecue. And maybe one extra on each level of your home, just to be safe. It’s a good idea to carry one in each vehicle too.

Learn How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Make sure after equipping the hot spots in your home with extinguishers that each family member is aware of their locations and that they are readily accessible. Keep in mind that extinguishers are intended for use on small fires to prevent them from becoming large and dangerous. Teach each family member how to use an extinguisher with the PASS acrononym:

  • PULL the pin. This will activate the extinguisher for when you squeeze the handle.
  • AIM the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • SQUEEZE the handle to spray. Remember that you will get only about 30 seconds of use.
  • SWEEP or move the nozzle back and forth while spraying at the base of the fire.

Maintaining Your Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are single-use products. After each use, they need to be “recharged” or refilled with the fire extinguishing agent. What many people may not realize is that fire extinguishers, even without being used, will need to be replaced or recharged.   Read about recharging fire extinguishers at Fire Extinguisher 101.   Most fire extinguishers last between 5 and 15 years, and the gauges should be checked once per year. Ask a professional if you are not sure if your extinguisher is still in good working order.

Fire extinguishers used appropriately can save lives and property, preventing a small fire from growing into something that could cause significant damage and tragedy. Well worth the expense of equipping your home and the time it takes to learn about them!

Comments or questions about this article? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Terrorism in Our Own Backyard

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Terrorism in Our Own Backyard | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe summer of 2015 has not been a happy one for my neighbors in the Fieldstone subdivision of Spruce Grove as two families deal with the aftermath of damage to their homes caused by arson.

Many emotions go through your mind at a time like this: shock, confusion, anxiety, helplessness, anger, and most of all fear. Home means the comfort and security of family, the building of memories, and the collecting of things that spark those memories. Losing one’s home and what it represents, especially through someone’s cruel and monstrous actions, is devastating to contemplate.  After the initial stages of disbelief and outrage, the question becomes “What can we do?”

What can be done by any neighborhood facing a challenge like this?

  • Recognize that the police can only do so much, and it is up to citizens to help themselves. One of the best defenses against this type of attack is developing a strong neighborhood community. Many eyes on the street may pick up on suspicious activity that might lead to catching and punishing the criminals. Get to know your neighbors, and establish a buddy system for watching each other’s property. This can be done on an informal basis, or by setting up a more formal structure through a Neighborhood Watch program with regular meetings and get-togethers. Annual Block Parties are useful for this purpose too, and encouraged and supported by the City of Spruce Grove. Check out the City of Spruce Grove’s Block Party Guide.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the police. Suspicious activity could be anything that feels out of place or doesn’t look right, such as vehicles cruising up and down the street or oddly dressed individuals strolling along at strange times of the day. Call 780-962-2222 to reach Spruce Grove RCMP for non-emergency situations.
  • Clean up the neighborhood. Have residents check their properties for combustible items that could fuel an arson fire, such as piles of old lumber, old rags and newspapers, excess vegetation, readily accessible cans of fuel for vehicles and lawn mowers and other flammable liquids. These items should either be disposed of or secured. If it is possible to do so, store garbage and recycling bins inside a garage or shed, or attach them securely to a building or fence.
  • Light it up. Encourage residents to leave their porch lights on at night. Adding more and stronger lighting all around properties, as well as motion sensors, is also helpful. (These are the lights I am installing on our property, available from Amazon.ca.)
  • Consider investing in security cameras or a monitored security system for your home. Companies like ADT or AlarmForce have been around for a long time and can be counted on to design a system that works for your home and budget. Or, you can go the do-it-yourself route with cameras in every price range monitored through your computer or tablet.
  • Time to update your home inventory for insurance purposes. Check out my blog article “Home Inventory: Do You Have One?” for help in how to create this important document.

Some other articles on home security and safety from my blog:

Fire Safety in Your Home (includes Fire Safety Checklist)
Should Your Home Have a Fire Sprinkler System?
Home Security Checklist
Automate Your Spruce Grove Home With Your Smartphone

Fieldstone residents have already moved forward in organizing a community group and are actively working with the police to find and prosecute the individuals responsible for the recent fires. Our hope is that no other neighborhood has to cope with this sort of tragic event.

Comments or questions about this article, or information to add? Please call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

What To Do After Hail Damage From a Storm

Friday, July 31st, 2015
What to do after hail damage from a storm

What To Do After Hail Damage From a Storm | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Did you know that the worst hailstorms in the world occur in the corridor in Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary? 

While hail storms do not happen frequently in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, they can cause significant damage to both your home and your vehicle. With hail that can reach the size of golf balls falling from the sky, it is not uncommon for hail to break windows, dent cars and damage the siding on your home.

“If you experience damage from a hail storm, call your insurance company immediately. All of the details of the storm and the damage caused will be fresh in your mind,” says Achiel Goossens, Senior Manager of Auto Claims with Aviva Canada.

If you have any questions about the claim process, talk to your insurance broker or insurer. They will be able to guide through the claim process. But, here are some important tips that everyone should follow if they experience damage from a hail storm:

1. Take photos: Photos are your proof that damage occurred. It will also validate your claim and move the claim process along quicker.

2. Record all details: Take note of all the specifics of the hail storm. Write down the time, location, and date of the storm and make note of all the damage that occurred to your home or vehicle.

3. File immediately: File your property damage claim as close to the event as possible. It is easier to file a claim when all the details are fresh in your mind, allowing you to complete the claim process quickly and efficiently.

Following these three easy steps will make your auto or property damage claim significantly easier. No one wants to experience damage from a hail storm, but knowing how to file a claim properly will make the process smoother and ensure that things go back to normal.

More information is available from your insurance broker or at avivacanada.com.

I’m happy to help you answer any home related questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

(Content of this article courtesy of www.newscanada.com)

Winter Emergency Kit 2.0

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Winter Emergency Kit 2.0 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam | NewsCanada.comIf you’re a resident of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area who is traveling on Alberta roads this holiday season, this information is for you! Canadians know that winter driving can be summed up in one word: Preparation. But what does being prepared include?

According to Lacey Elliott, car expert and spokesperson for autoTRADER.ca, aside from the requisite items such as a snowbrush and ice scraper, booster cables and road salt, motorists today should consider adding several other items to their vehicle emergency kit this winter.   “A regular emergency kit for summer may include staples such as a first aid kit,” she says. “But as weather conditions change dramatically in the winter, assembling a next-level kit is all part of being prepared.”

The Visibility Factor

Needing to pull over to the side of the road during the winter, especially during whiteout conditions, means making yourself as visible as possible. Elliott says this means that an absolute must-have in your winter emergency kit are road flares or high-visibility roadside triangles that will signal your distress to other drivers. “Many accidents occur as passers-by simply do not see your vehicle pulled over until it’s too late,” she says.

Portable Power

Cell phones are indispensable in an emergency, but if your phone battery is fading fast and your car battery is itself dead or dying and unable to charge it, your phone won’t be of much use. “A portable power pack that’s sold in many consumer electronic stores is a good idea to have in-hand,” Elliott says. “The ability to charge your phone, even without the aid of your car, is worth its weight in gold if you’re stuck roadside during the winter.”

The Blanket Solution

Elliott says an extra set of clothes— especially wool socks, gloves and a warm toque—in which to keep warm is also advisable, should you find yourself stuck in the cold waiting for help. If space is an issue, another option is to include an emergency blanket, which are thin and metallic—not unlike the ones used to keep marathon runners warm post-race. “They don’t take up much room in your trunk and might just save the day in frigid conditions.”

Emergency road kits can be purchased pre-made at many retailers, such as Canadian Tire, or from the Alberta Motor Association. Definitely worth it! Check out also the AMA’s “Advice to Get You Winter Ready”.

Do you have winter stories or tips to share? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

(Most of the content of this article is courtesy of www.newscanada.com)

Lights Out: Five Reasons to Consider Installing a Backup Generator for Your Home

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Lights Out- Five Reasons to Consider Installing a Backup Generator for Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamBackup generators provide peace of mind in the event of extended power outages. Installed directly on homeowners’ properties, backup generators are connected to the electrical panels and supply needed power whenever the utility power is interrupted. Having backup power is particularly important during extremes in temperature when an inability to use furnaces or air conditioning units can lead to dangerous in-home conditions. People living in or thinking of moving to the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region would do well to contemplate the issue. As such, here are five reasons to consider installing backup generators.

Frozen Pipe Headaches

While installing backup generators will cost thousands of dollars per household, the cost could end up being quite the bargain for homeowners in Spruce Grove real estate when considering the headaches and costs associated with damaged pipes. If the power goes out during the dead of winter, for example, Stony Plain real estate owners who do not have backup generators might run the risk of frozen pipes that could burst and lead to costly repair-related expenses.

Hotel Rental Expense

Extended power outages that occur when the temperature is either too hot or too cold may, if backup generators are not installed, force homeowners with Parkland County real estate to flee to hotels. The costs can certainly add up for power outages that last for weeks at a time. Recent cases of natural disasters across North America have demonstrated that lengthy power outages are a real possibility.

Keep Food Fresh

People with Edmonton real estate who lose power for even a few days can end up losing everything stored in fridges and freezers. They would not only have to dispose of hundreds of dollars worth of spoiled food, but would also have to replace what was lost as a result of the power outage.

Unhooking the Tether

One of the best advantages of installing backup generators is that they automatically turn themselves on whenever there’s a power outage. What this means is that people with Parkland County acreages won’t have to be tethered to their homes. Whether they’re out of town and can’t get back quickly or have to go to work, homeowners can rest assured that their backup generators will provide their homes with the power they need to operate as per usual.

Peace of Mind

Having the power shut off with no warning can be a disheartening experience. Installing backup generators will help to alleviate anxiety or worry in the event of extended power outages. This benefit is all the more important if children or elderly people living on Edmonton acreages are home alone when there’s a power outage.

There are many good reasons for homeowners to consider installing backup generators, and the aforementioned are just five of them.  Please also read my blog post “Should I Buy a Generator?”

I’d be honoured to provide you with any advice on your real estate needs in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, and Edmonton. For a free consultation, please call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here. I look forward to helping you with your real estate needs!

Should I Buy a Generator?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
Should I Buy a Generator? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

CC Photo supplied by Falls Avenue Vintage Fashion

Residents of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area shuddered in horror during the last two weeks of December 2013 as ice storms in eastern Canada caused power outages that left people shivering in the dark, not for hours, but for days.  No power meant no heat, no lights, no way to keep food from spoiling, in many cases no water and no way to cook food.  Many of us started thinking about our own dependence on the electric power grid and what we could do if faced with such a disaster.

One solution might be a backup generator run by diesel, gasoline, propane or natural gas that could at least provide power to essential appliances such as furnace, refrigerator, stove or microwave, and the like.  What do you need to know before you purchase one and attempt to install it on your property?

What size do I need?

When it comes to generators, especially those that can run multiple appliances, bigger is better.  Experts suggest anything smaller than 4500 to 6000 watts just won’t get the job done.

First, determine what items you want to run.  Be aware that a generator is not intended to run every electrical appliance in your home and certainly not at the same time, so some choices will need to be made.  Most people would put things like the furnace, fridge, freezer and stove at the top of their lists.  Add your hot water tank if it is electric, and anything else that would cause undue hardship if you had to live without it for a few days.

You need to know how many watts of power are required to run your chosen items, but even more important is the “start-up wattage” – how much power is required when the item is turned on.  For example, a refrigerator might need 800 watts to run, but 2500 watts to start.  A good chart listing the wattages for selected home appliances is published by Plano Power Equipment.  Many appliances in your home should also have this information printed on them.

Add up the amount of wattage needed for all the items you want to run (don’t forget the lights!), and add 25% more to account for error and also to keep the generator running below its maximum capacity.

Remember too that most of these machines, like your vehicle or lawnmower, run on fuel in tanks that have to be re-filled!  Average continuous running time is about 5 to 7 hours.

How do I manage the power?

One thing to remember:  Turn something OFF before you turn something else ON!

A very good article called “Power On” published by GulfCoastNews.com has some great tips for choosing, operating and installing a portable generator.

The author of this article recommends turning on the refrigerator and freezer first, then a few lights and other low-wattage appliances.  Once everything in the freezer is frozen, unplugging it for a while won’t hurt the contents and you can then run other appliances and equipment.

So, can I just plug in the generator?

Uh, no.  What you’re going to need is a “transfer switch”.  The “Power On” article defines a transfer switch as “a manual three-position switching device that allows power to be channeled to the home’s electrical system either from the utility company power lines or from the generator – not both”.   Why is this important?  “Plugging a generator directly into a wall socket instead of utilizing a transfer switch sets up several potentially deadly scenarios: a short-circuit and electrical fire in the home’s wiring when power is restored; a system short-circuit in the generator causing it to catch fire or explode when power is restored; and the possible electrocution of linemen working to restore power in your area.”  Yikes!

Here’s a good idea, from the same article:  “If you are building a new home [or renovating], consider having the contractor install a sub-panel that is already set up for stand-by power. This saves you money because there’s usually no additional installation labor costs and the generator-ready panel eliminates the need for an additional transfer switch box.”

See also “Portable Generator Safety” from FortisAlberta.

How do I go about installing my portable or stand-by generator?

Take a look at this video called “How to Install a Stand-by Generator” from ThisOldHouse.com.  A little more complicated than buying the thing, bringing it home and turning it on, but chances are, if you ever have to deal with what the poor folks in eastern Canada did, you’ll be very glad you made the effort!

OK, I’m sold!  What do I buy and how much will it cost?

Home Depot has a good article on generators on their website, along with links to information on the generators they sell.     Check out also this page from ConsumerReports.org.   If you are a subscriber, you will be able to access the Consumer Reports ratings on generators.

Personal opinion?  If you’re going to do this, go for the best.  For example, Honda’s Premium series of generators (5000 to 6000 watts) cost in the range of $3000.  (View the spec sheets from Scona Cycle.)  Add in roughly another $750 for installing the transfer switch and incidentals and you will be good to go even if the Edmonton area gets hit with a 2-week-long power outage like Ontario’s.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Plumbing First Aid

Monday, August 19th, 2013

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamPlumbing First AidIt’s 2 AM in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home, and some sense of foreboding has you heading down the basement stairs.  You explore the basement, wondering what could have awakened you.  Suddenly…  Uh, oh.  Your bare foot encounters a puddle of water that has no business being there, and you realize in horror that your hot water tank has sprung a major leak.  Would you know what to do?

Knowing  how to turn off the water heater ranks Number 2 on the list of the “Top 5 DIY Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know”, from Today’s Homeowner.com, right after knowing how to turn off the water to your whole house and to individual plumbing fixtures.

Plumbing emergencies happen, often at inconvenient times, and they almost always need attention long before a plumber can arrive on the scene.  There are also situations that call for minor repairs, ones which any homeowner should be able to undertake on his or her own.   The article contains detailed information for dealing with each of the following:

Plumbing Fix #1:  How to shut off the water (includes turning off all the water in your house and turning off water at plumbing fixtures)

Plumbing Fix #2:  How to turn off a water heater

Plumbing Fix #3:  How to fix a leaky pipe (includes repairing a leak with epoxy putty and repairing a leak with a pipe repair clamp)

Plumbing Fix #4:  How to stop a toilet from running (includes how to adjust the water level in the toilet tank and how to replace a toilet tank flapper)

Plumbing Fix #5:  How to fix a dripping faucet (includes how to replace a washer on a leaking compression faucet and how to repair leaking cartridge or ball faucets)

Top 5 DIY Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know” won’t make you a master plumber but this article just might save you a little money and hassle!  Worth a read.

I welcome your comments and questions on any topic related to the home!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Lessons From Calgary: How Prepared Are You For a Disaster?

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Recent catastrophic flooding in southern Alberta has caused many people in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region to re-think their own emergency preparedness and to wonder just how well we would survive a disaster of this type.  If you Google “72 hour survival kit”, many worthy sites presenting much useful information appear.  But how many of us have actually followed through on this information to put together an emergency plan, emergency kits and the like?   How do you even get started doing this?

Start with a Plan

A very good site to begin with is GetPrepared.gc.ca.  Download their publication 72 Hours: Is Your Family Prepared? Your Emergency Preparedness Guide.  Detailed instructions guide you through the creation of an emergency plan for your family, and the building of an emergency kit.  Most authorities recommend having enough “stuff” to keep you self-sufficient for 72 hours, the critical time period during which you may need to wait for help from emergency assistance providers, and during which time you may be without essential services of water, power and gas.

Build Your Survival Kit

Your emergency kit may be one you’ve assembled yourself or it may be a commercial one you purchase from an organization such as the Canadian Red CrossTheir basic 72-Hour Disaster Preparedness Kit sells for $59.95 and includes the following items:

  • 1 box of 45 waterproof matches
  • 1 wind-up flashlight/radio/alarm (no batteries required)
  • 1 50-hour candle
  • 1 multi-function knife
  • 1 S.O.S. sign
  • 1 emergency rescue blanket
  • 1 emergency preparedness guide
  • 20 water purification tablets
  • 2 biohazard waste bags
  • 1 collapsible water container
  • 1 whistle
  • 1 pair of work gloves
  • 1 12-hour light stick
  • 1 first aid kit:
    • 1 emergency plastic sheeting
    • 1 duct tape
    • 2 dust masks
    • 1 nylon backpack
    • 2 gauze pads 5 cm x 5 cm (2 in x 2 in)
    • 5 antiseptic towelettes
    • 1 proviodine swab
    • 4 alcohol swabs
    • 2 insect sting relief swabs
    • 10 plastic adhesive bandages
    • 2 fingertip bandages
    • 2 knuckle bandages
    • 1 first aid instruction card
    • 2 adhesive patch bandages 5 cm x 7.5 cm (2 in x 2 in)
    • 1 conform bandage
    • 1 roll of adhesive tape
    • 1 pair of nitrile examination gloves
    • 1 pair of tweezers
    • 1 pair of scissors
    • 12 safety pins

These items are just the beginning, of course.  Most experts recommend that your kit include enough non-perishable food for 72 hours, and at least 4 liters of water per person per day.  Seasoned backwoods campers and backpackers will have lots of other suggestions, such as warm, water-resistant clothing, a small tent and sleeping gear, food preparation equipment including mess kits and a tiny stove that fits in a backpack, and special dehydrated meals.  Whatever goes into your kit needs to reflect your careful consideration of your personal situation:  What would you need to have with you to be safe, comfortable and healthy during those 72 hours?  Study carefully the lists on the GetPrepared.gc.ca site as well as the following sites to devise the exact 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit that works for you and all family members (including pets).

Store your kit somewhere in your home where it’s readily accessible and hope you never have to use it!

Leaving Your Home

What if you had to evacuate your home as so many southern Alberta residents were forced to do?  What do you take with you when you escape?  Well, your emergency kit of course, and a few other essentials:

  • Identification (passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage licenses, insurance, wills, financial statements, etc.) Tip:  Scan all these documents onto your computer and then download them onto a memory stick which then goes into your emergency kit.  Check and update your digital records every 6 months.
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Important phone numbers (relatives, work, insurance, doctors, pharmacy, etc.)
  • Extra set of keys (house, garage, storage, lockbox, etc.)
  • Money $$ (cash, including coins, and credit cards)
  • Critical medicines & prescription glasses
  • Personal hygiene items and change of clothing
  • Computer backup
  • You can probably think of a few other easily portable and absolutely essential items.

People who have survived disastrous fires, floods and severe weather events will tell you that one of the hardest things about leaving behind their homes is the thought of losing the tangible evidence of precious and irreplaceable family memories.  These days, technology can help if you plan ahead and take the time to do things like digitizing family photos and then uploading them to online storage services.  Make sure a copy of your home inventory is there too.  (See my blog article “Home Inventory: Do You Have One?”)

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

Apartment Dwellers, You Need Insurance!

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Apartment Dwellers, You Need Insurance! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWe hear about it all the time but this time the devastation hit a little close to home, affecting the daughter of one of my clients in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region.  On Thursday, May 9, 2013, 36 units of the Sonora Apartments in Stony Plain were destroyed by fire, leaving 50 people homeless and wondering how they’ll survive with all their possessions gone.  $4 million in damage is the estimate, and the probable cause of the fire is “improper disposal of smoking materials.” 

It’s hard to imagine the horror and hopelessness experienced by the victims of this tragedy.  What makes it worse is that most of the people living in the apartment complex did not have insurance which could have minimized a great deal of their suffering. 

If you are a renter, please give yourself the gift of property insurance known as Renters or Tenant Insurance.  The cost is small and the benefit is huge. 

What does Tenant’s Insurance cover?

An excellent pamphlet from the Insurance Bureau of Canada entitled “What is Tenant’s Insurance?” explains that Tenant’s Insurance covers 3 main areas:

  • Replacement of personal belongings of all kinds, if stolen, damaged or destroyed by fire, water and the like.
  • Costs for temporary accommodation, meals, transportation, moving costs, etc. while your home is being repaired.
  • Liability coverage in the event that you cause damage to the property or to people visiting the building.

(Keep in mind that each policy will have its own rules, exceptions and limits as to what is covered and what compensation for damage there may be.) 

How much does Tenant’s Insurance cost?

When you hear how little Tenant’s Insurance costs, you’ll probably be shaking your head as I did, wondering how people could possibly think that not having this type of insurance makes sense.  Or maybe, as Dayle of The Co-operators Insurance Company in Spruce Grove suggests, they just don’t know it exists.  She says that for roughly $15,000 worth of coverage (and that includes some provision for living expenses and standard liability coverage) the cost is only $200 per year!  Surely one’s peace of mind is worth that much, and if you ever need to make a claim, there’s no question that getting your life back to normal quickly has to be worth putting that amount in your budget, right along with food, clothing and rent. 

For more information about property insurance, see my blog article ”Property Insurance: Are You Covered?”   

I welcome your comments or questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here

Should Your Home Have a Fire Sprinkler System?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Should Your Home Have a Fire Sprinkler System? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow protected from fire is your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area?  You have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers but should you do more? 

I recently watched a disturbing YouTube video entitled The Co-operators and the Guelph Fire Department Sprinkler Demonstration sponsored by The Co-Operators Insurance company and the Guelph Fire Department.  In the video I learned that deaths from fire occur most often in the home and usually when people are sleeping.  Those most affected are likely to be small children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 60.  It’s one thing to read in the video that fire departments typically respond in as little as 10 minutes but that conditions during a fire can become unsurvivable in under 2 minutes.   It’s a very different impression to watch the video and see the destruction and horror caused by a fire, how quickly it can spread, filling a home with toxic fumes and smoke, and how devastating the damage can be.   

The purpose of the video was to point out the difference sprinklers can make in saving lives and protecting property.  According to the video, damage in a sprinkler-protected home is generally 71% less.  Insurance claims in sprinkler-protected homes run around $1000 compared to $15,000 in those without.  Even more important than the decreased property damage is the life-saving aspect:  an 80% reduction in injury and death in a home with sprinklers. 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s website  has similar information:  “Most people don’t realize that 8 out of 10 fire deaths occur in the home.  They usually happen at night when people are asleep.  People also do not understand how fast fires spread and how they can go from a tiny flame to total destruction in as little as three minutes.  Fire sprinklers can suppress and often extinguish a fire before the fire department arrives, giving people time to escape.” 

The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, based in the US but with Canadian partners, reports statistics similar to those in the video.  The website also contains a wealth of other information and answers to questions people might have about home sprinkler systems:

  • Fires kill more people in the US every year than all natural disasters combined.  And 80% of those fire deaths occur in the home.  When combined with smoke alarms, residential fire sprinklers cut the risk of dying by 82%.
  • Fire sprinklers can save money for developers, builders, homeowners and communities.
  • Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire.  Sprinklers cause much less water damage than fire hoses.
  • Sprinklers are activated by high heat so sprinklers throughout a home are unlikely to go off.  The website notes that 90% of all home fires are contained with a single sprinkler.
  • Accidental discharge of sprinklers due to defective equipment is extremely unlikely.
  • Homeowners need not worry about the aesthetics of a sprinkler system as the hardware in a home system is small and easily concealed.
  • If installed in a new home, the cost may be about the same as an upgraded carpet, or about 1 to 1.5% of the building cost.  This cost may be offset over a number of years through lower insurance premiums.
  • Home fire sprinkler systems can be retrofitted into existing homes. 

In light of recent house fires in our province that caused tremendous damage and loss of life due to current new homes being built very close together and with flammable materials, the cost of installing a sprinkler system (running about $1.65 per square foot in the US for new home construction) seems well worth it.  I urge you to view the Co-Operators video  to get a feel for the true calamity of a fire in the home, and visit the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition website for more information about home sprinklers.  You can never be too safe! 

See also my blog articleFire Safety in Your Home”.   

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
© Copyright 2011, Real Estate Websites by Redman Technologies Inc. | Privacy Policy | Sitemap
The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton
MLS® MLS REALTOR® Realtor
Trademarks used under license from CREA