Archive for the ‘Fire Safety’ 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.

How Safe is Your Spruce Grove Home for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

How Safe is Your Spruce Grove Home for Halloween? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamFabric ghosts fluttering from trees, big blow-up monsters, elaborately carved jack-o’-lanterns, orange lights on roof edges… Every year in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, it seems more and more homeowners decorate their homes for the visits of little superheroes and princesses out to collect treats on that spooky night.

Just how safe is the path to your front door for those little tricksters? And from a homeowner’s perspective, would your liability insurance coverage be adequate in case of an unforeseen accident? I remember witnessing a problem at a friend’s home last Halloween that could have had disastrous consequences. The home is a bungalow whose front door is reached via 4 concrete steps, built at a time when railings on the sides of such porches or stoops were not mandated. The porch luckily drops off into a fringe of shrubs at the front of the house, rather than onto a hard concrete sidewalk. Inevitably, several excited youngsters fell off the steps that night, resulting in some minor bruises and spilled candy. Things could have been so much worse, and I’m pretty sure my friend will be reinforcing those porch edges this Halloween.

Keep visitors safe this Halloween:

Check your fire safety measures

  • When setting up electrical decorations and lights, don’t overload your electrical circuits.
  • Use battery powered flameless candles in jack-o’-lanterns.

Check for obstructions and hazards in your yard

  • If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is out of reach of little hands and well secured so as not to be a tripping hazard.
  • Remove obstacles such as lawn ornaments or garden tools, and rake up wet leaves and other debris.
  • Light up any decorative elements in your yard to avoid people running into them, or make them part of your Halloween tableau by surrounding them with “crime scene” tape.
  • Light up your walkway and keep the path clear. Snow on Halloween is always a possibility in our area, and it goes without saying that snow and ice should be cleared away to prevent injury from falls on slippery sidewalks.

Check your insurance coverage, just in case

Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Movement?

People paint and display a teal pumpkin to show that they are giving out treats that are safe for all kids, including those with allergies. That usually means non-food items, such as stickers, erasers or pencils, small toys and the like.

Protect your home and property too:

  • Keep your pets indoors for their safety as well as the safety of visitors.
  • Place garbage cans inside a building or secure them so they can’t be tipped over.
  • Park vehicles in your garage if possible.

How Safe is Your Spruce Grove Home for Halloween? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamOnce you’ve made your home safe, fill up the treat bowls, dress in your spookiest costume, turn on all the lights, and prepare to welcome all the little ghosts and goblins!

Do you have any more tips to add for a safe and fun Halloween? 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.

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.

 

 

 

How Secure Is Your Home?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

How Secure Is Your Home? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDo you know anyone in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region who has been the victim of a burglary?  To ensure that this unpleasant experience never happens to you, take a look at our Home Security Checklist.

This list may be one of the most comprehensive you will ever find, starting outside your home with a look at your neighborhood in general, outdoor security and valuables, landscaping, exterior lighting, the garage and other outbuildings.  Focusing on your home itself, items to check here include entry doors and locks, windows, the home interior and its contents, and special circumstances, such as alarm systems, firearms, swimming pool safety, and fire safety.  The document concludes with a special checklist just for things you need to consider while on vacation.  Chances are there are a few things on the Home Security Checklist you haven’t thought of doing, and those things just might make your home more secure and less burglar-friendly!

You might also be interested in our Fire Safety Checklist.

Some related blog posts:

Looking for a new home, especially one with more security features?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Fire Safety in Your Home

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Fire Safety in Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAn article by Mike Holmes in the October 8, 2011 Edmonton Journal entitled “Simple lint can be serious fire hazard” [reprinted from an earlier article called “Lint isn’t just fluff; it’s a fire hazard”, Edmonton Journal.com, September 29, 2011] reminded me that October is Fire Safety Month in Canada.  Is your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area as fire-safe as it could be?  Use this handy checklist put together by a member of my team to find out.

Fire Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, Escape Plan

___ We have at least one smoke alarm newer than 10 years old on every floor.  (Ideally, also an alarm in or near every sleeping area, near the family room and kitchen, at the top of each stairway, in the garage, wired in with battery backup.)

___ Carbon monoxide detectors newer than 7 years old are located in the same areas as smoke alarms, with an additional one near the furnace.

___ Batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are changed twice a year.

___ We test the alarms every 3 months.

___ We have emergency flashlights with fresh batteries in every bedroom and the kitchen.

___ There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, basement, and near each fire source (fireplace, wood-burning stove).  These are checked or inspected on a regular basis, and someone in the home knows how to use them.  (One in each vehicle is a good idea too.)

___ We avoid accumulating clutter, especially combustible waste.  Items of this type are never stored near a heat source or near the furnace or hot water heater, and we ensure that we have clear paths to all exits.

___ As a family, we regularly practice our escape.  All family members know what to do in case of fire or other emergency.

Fire and Heat Sources

___ Our wood-burning fireplace/stove is properly ventilated and there is adequate fresh air intake.

___ Our fireplace has a screen to prevent sparks, and we dispose of ashes in metal containers.

___ Our wood-burning fireplaces/stoves and their chimneys are cleaned and inspected every year.

___ Space heaters are kept at least 3 feet from flammable/combustible items, and they are placed where they cannot be knocked over.

___ Heat sources of any kind, including the kitchen stove, are never left unattended when in use.

___ We make sure things that can burn, such as dishtowels, paper or plastic bags, curtains and loose fitting clothing, are at least 3 feet away from the range top when we are cooking.

___ Our barbecue grill is at least 3 feet away from the house and any combustibles when in use.

Flammables

___ Flammables are stored in original, marked containers away from sources of heat or flame.

___ If we must store gasoline and similar fuels at home, we do so in special safety containers, and never in the house.

___ We store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or similar secure location out of reach of children.

___ We do not allow smoking in our home.  But, if we did, there would be deep wide ashtrays available; lit cigarettes would never be left unattended; ashtrays and furniture would always be checked before we leave the house or go to bed; smoking is never done in bed.

___ Candles are used only by adults, out of reach of children and pets, placed in sturdy and stable holders made of glass or metal well away from flammable items, and never left unattended.

___ The lint trap on our clothes dryer is cleaned after every load of laundry, and dryer ductwork is cleaned and inspected every year.

Electrical

___ Kitchen appliances, such as the kettle, coffee-maker, toaster oven and microwave, are plugged into separate outlets.

___ There are no frayed or cracked cords or exposed wiring in our home.

___ There are no outlets or switches that are unusually warm to touch.

___ All outlets and switches have cover plates so that no wiring is exposed.

___ No outlet has a smudge mark indicating that an electrical short has occurred around the socket where plugs are inserted.

___ Light bulbs are the appropriate size and type for the lamp or fixture.

___ No extension cord carries more than its proper load, as indicated by the rating labeled on the cord and appliance.  Cords are never run under rugs or hooked over nails, and are not used as a permanent solution.

___ We keep “air space” around electronic items such as TVs, stereos, computers, etc.

___ We replace any electrical tool or appliance if it causes electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.

___ We keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters, and we take special care with electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call 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
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