According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms – often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms. Fortunately, a new generation of home safety technology – combined with tried-and-true safety practices – can help keep homes and families safer from the threat of home fires. First Alert offers the following steps to keep your home safe from fires, plus tips and products to keep your family safe and healthy:
Be safe, replace: If you can’t think of the last time you installed a smoke alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace your old ones. All smoke alarms – including battery and hard-wired models – are tested to function for 10 years. Installing new alarms ensures you are protected with the most advanced smoke-sensing technologies and latest safety features available. Conversely, by neglecting to replace alarms, you could be putting yourself, your family or tenants at serious risk.
Go for a 10: One of the greatest advancements in smoke alarm technology in recent years has been the development of new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, such as First Alert’s 10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm, which consumers have used to add fire protection to their homes. The Atom features an advanced smoke entry system designed to reduce the chances of false alarms, along with a loud, penetrating siren. In addition, 10-year alarms provide hassle-free protection so homeowners, property owners and renters no longer need to remember to replace costly batteries for the life of their alarms. They also eliminate the risk of ever having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.
In many areas of the country, upgrading to 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms is also the law. Several states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana, New York and Oregon, as well as the cities of Phoenix, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and New York City, have passed laws requiring 10-year battery smoke alarms in residential buildings. Numerous other states and municipalities are considering similar legislation.
Double-up on safety: There are two main types of smoke alarms – photoelectric and ionization – which utilize different technologies to sense smoke and fire. Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fast-flaming fires, while photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with a long period of smoldering (called “smoldering fires”). Rather than relying solely on one, install both – or a dual-sensor alarm – to maximize your protection. The NFPA and other safety advocates recommend having dual-sensor alarms because they provide the best potential for early detection of all types of common household fires.
Featuring Smart Sensing Technology to better detect slow smoldering and fast-flaming fires, the First Alert 10-Year Alarm Life Dual Sensor Smoke & Fire Alarm provides the peace of mind of a dual-sensor alarm with the convenience of a 10-year sealed lithium battery. The alarm better detects real threats and helps to combat false or “nuisance” alarms that may lead to device deactivation – all while providing a decade of protection without the need for battery replacement. It also signals an end-of-life warning, notifying consumers when it needs replacement.
Cover your bases: Even if you have smoke alarms in your home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you don’t have enough devices. To ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and carbon monoxide, the NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom or sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average-sized home in America – a two-story, three-bedroom house – needs a minimum of five smoke alarms.
To learn more about 10-year alarms and alarm laws in your state, or tips for protecting your family from smoke, fire and carbon monoxide, visit the First Alert website at http://www.firstalert.com.
The Fourth of July also known as Independence Day or July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.
We celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year. But July 4, 1776 wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later on July 4th, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
On June 11, 1776, the Colonies’ Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and formed a committee whose express purpose was drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer, crafted the original draft document. A total of 86 changes were made to his draft and the Continental Congress officially adopted the final version on July 4, 1776.
They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes. July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August and now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.
From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to family gatherings and barbecues. Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has become a major focus of leisure activities. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.
Slips, trips or falls can happen at any time of life, however, the likelihood of having a fall and the impact that this can have on health and independence becomes more significant with age.
Falls are a major cause of hospitalization, especially amongst the elderly. For some people the consequence can be quite devastating resulting in loss of confidence, permanent injury and a restricted ability to lead an active, independent life.
Around 75% of falls occur in or around the home, but many of these can be prevented by being aware of personal risk factors, finding safer ways of performing tasks and making simple and practical adjustments to the home environment to reduce slipping and tripping hazards and improve safety.
Ensure that there is good lighting in and around the home and that switches are easy to reach. Sensor lights can be strategically placed along hallways and at entrance doors to help with night time visibility.
Glow in the dark products can be placed next to or on door handles, light switches and other objects that may need to be located in the dark. Luminous reflective tape can be used to mark exits, stairs and other hazards.
Allow time for eyes to adjust when moving from brightly lit areas to darker areas and vice versa. Decrease glare by adding net curtains.
Floors, Stairs and Hallways
Check carpeting regularly for worn spots or raised patches. Avoid using throw rugs and runners but if required secure them with carpet tape to prevent slipping. Avoid polishing floors with wax or other slippery materials.
Use contrast to highlight changes in floor surfaces and depth. Avoid heavily patterned flooring which can obscure small obstacles from vision.
Take care when walking through doorways as sometimes the threshold makes the floor surface uneven. Small threshold ramps may help individuals to negotiate these uneven surfaces, especially for walking frame users.
Avoid leaving clutter on the floor (books, handbags, packages, toys and so forth), as these may become a tripping hazard. Ensure any electrical cords are tucked under furniture or taped to skirting boards and do not cross walkways.
Install stair handrails on both sides of steps and stairs.
Bathroom surfaces can be very slippery when wet. Keep water spray to a limited area where possible and clean up quickly. Avoiding using talcum powder (especially on tiled surfaces) which makes floor surfaces extra slippery.
Be extra careful when using non-slip mats. Ensure the edges are firmly stuck down and the rubber-backed mat is held in place. Consider whether these mats create another tripping hazard—applying slip‑resistant tapes or a non-slip floor treatment to the floor and shower tiles may be a safer alternative.
Install grab rails in or adjacent to the shower, bath and toilet to provide stability and support. Replace towel rails with grab rails for extra support.
The hot, wet shower environment can sometimes affect balance—using a shower chair, flip‑down seat or removable stool can give extra support. Ensure soap, shampoo and towels are within reach to avoid bending or reaching. Be careful of dangerous lips/edges around the shower and eliminate if possible.
Consider whether using a bath is really necessary. A clamp on bath rail, non‑slip tape and a bath hoist may make it slightly safer to get in and out of the bath. If the shower is over the bath consider a bath board or bath seat.
A toilet seat raiser could be appropriate if the toilet seat is too low.
Ensure beds are adjusted to an appropriate height to help you get in and out. Bed blocks may be an option if the bed is too low. Always get up slowly. Sit for a short time before standing up.
Always turn a bedside lamp on before getting out of bed during the night and have a phone next to the bed for easy access in case of an emergency.
A commode chair, urinal or bed pan can avoid the need to get up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
For walking aid users, ensure that walking frames can be accessed very close to the bed.
Remove or tuck away any tripping hazards like overhanging bedspreads, electrical cords, clothes or other clutter.
Organise storage to reduce the need for reaching high or bending low as these actions can put you off balance.
Considering sitting down on a kitchen stool when doing the dishes or preparing a meal. Use a tray mobile or trolley to carry items around. Pick up dropped food and mop up spills as soon as they occur.
Put hoses, tools, toys and other objects away after use. Remove any hanging plants that could be walked into. Keep a look out for pets before moving around the garden.
Repair uneven or cracked paths. Ensure lawn areas are as flat as possible. Kill moss and slime on paths. Be especially careful if the ground is frosty or wet and ensure that areas that get wet have non-slip surfaces. Ensure leaves, gravel or other debris are raked up regularly and removed.
Mark the leading edge of steps with a contrasting color and install handrails.
Sit down to dress. Avoid long clothing such as nighties and dressing gowns which may create a tripping hazard when standing up.
Wear low-heeled shoes with rubber soles for good traction. Ensure shoes fit well, are in good repair and are free from grease or dirt. Avoid wearing socks or stockings without shoes when walking on tiled floors or polished floorboards.
For those at high risk of falls, hip protectors may provide extra protection. These are plastic or foam shields worn in special underpants that protect your hips in the event of a fall.
People often down play a slip, trip or fall, blaming clumsiness or error. It is important to take any fall or near miss seriously and take the time to work out what may have caused or contributed to the event.
Keep up with regular health checks and keep an eye out for health problems such as poor balance, dizziness, muscles weakness, incontinence, reduced sensation in legs and feet, poor nutrition, unsteadiness or loss of confidence in walking/using steps. It is important to discuss these with a doctor to ensure any medical conditions are well managed.
Continue regular exercise to help maintain supple joints, muscle strength, balance and walking ability.
Be aware of vision changes and use glasses if required. If your vision is deteriorating, see a low vision advisor to recommend home modifications.
If getting to the toilet on time is a concern talk to a doctor or continence nurse.
Review your medications regularly. Some medicines don’t mix, may cause nasty side effects or may be affected by alcohol. A medication reminder can assist with taking medication correctly. For those who are forgetful, there are timers that can remind them when to take medications.
Ensure good access to telephones to prevent rushing. Consider getting a cordless telephone or install extra telephone extensions.
Don’t rush, concentrate on tasks and take the necessary time. If you’re feeling light headed or exhausted, sit down and rest straight away. Have a plan of how to get help if a fall does occur.
Avoid hazardous tasks such as standing on a chair to reach something from a high cupboard. Look at rearranging the home environment so that frequently used items are at an easy to reach appropriate height. Be aware of the implications of falling from a height and consider asking someone else to assist.
Consider the direction that bathroom and toilet room doors hang—can they be opened outwards if someone has a fall inside the bathroom or toilet room?
Consider the use of a mobility aid such as a walking stick or walking frame. It is important to discuss this first with your doctor.
An emergency call system may help to increase your confidence and independence by helping you contact someone if a fall does occur, particularly for if you live alone.
Fire Prevention Month (and week) raises awareness about fire safety and home safety to help ensure your home and family are prepared in the case of an emergency. This is a perfect time to discuss fire safety with your family. Every family’s safety plans will differ from the next, that is why it is important to sit down with your whole family and plan your home’s fire safety plans.
In 1922, the National Fire Protection Association named the second week in October Fire Prevention Week in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Today, we celebrate Fire Prevention Week and Month by raising awareness and educating families, students and communities across the United States. Fire departments go around to schools and communities to talk to kids and teach them about fire safety and what to do to keep your home safe and what to do in case of a fire.
According to the NFPA*, in 2016 there were 352,000 home fires, and 3 out of 5 fire deaths occurred in homes without smoke alarms.
Less than 50% of homeowners have an escape plan.
Carbon monoxide is the #1 cause of accidental death.
These facts and statistics are reasons why your home needs to be equipped with the proper amount of fire safety equipment and alarms. Fire Prevention Month is a great time to kick start your families commitment to fire safety!
This year’s FPW campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” works to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire––and how to escape safely in the event of one:
LISTEN Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.
Forgetting to monitor the batteries in your smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm is a common error that could have major repercussions. This is why 10-year battery-operated alarms continue to gain popularity. With battery-operated smoke alarms, it is recommended that batteries are replaced every six months. However, with 10-year battery-operated smoke alarms, you can rest assured knowing that 10-year sealed battery offers continuous power for the life of the alarm.
“Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury—rather it’s about providing all with a life of possibility.” ― Peter H. Diamandis, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
Aging in Place
I have always said: If you want a BIG Opportunity, find a BIG Problem…Aging in Place is both. Recently I’ve come across the extraordinary work of Peter H. Diamandis. He too, is fond of saying something similar:
There is no problem we can’t solve it’s just a matter of being smarter, bringing the right people together, the right technology, the right capital, every problem can be solved. Once you get over the initial dismay of the problem, the shock of oh my God what am I going to do about this? If you can flip your mind, say OK there is an opportunity here, right…Problems are Gold Mines.
Aging in Suburbia
The aging of boomers presents a number of challenges (aka problems), not the least of which is where this first suburban generation will want to grow old. A recent National Association of Home Builders report focusing on baby boomer housing preferences found that the majority of boomers want the suburban, single-family lifestyle. This preference was fine for younger able-bodied individuals who could jump in their cars and drive to goods and services whenever the need arose. However, it’s not that simple when chronic infirmities are now a part of the equation.
So far, this is a problem in search of solutions. Aging-in-place professionals and governments have been slow to respond, and silos prevent the kind of cross pollination of IDEAS needed to solve this cultural dilemma that’s just off shore brewing. This is going to take “Moon-shot thinking,” the kind guys like Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler are engaged in.
3D Printing to the Rescue
I have mentioned in prior posts that one way to potentially solve this TITANIC National Priority problem of Aging in Suburbia and “Care Deserts” is to bring goods and services to the burbs–serve the masses where they are. So, unless this is happening to you, or someone you love, the problem isn’t on your radar screen…Yet…But it will be, sooner than you could ever imagine. When your time comes, and you’ve worked through the initial dismay of the problem, the shock of oh my God what am I going to do about this? If you can flip your mind, say OK there is an opportunity here, right…Problems are Gold Mines. Suddenly, you have what I like to call “the burden of insight” a new sense of urgency and what’s possible.
I’ve envisioned how drones could deliver medications, food (meals on drones), and other lifesaving services, to the aging-in-place older adult, but how about 3D Printing? Peter Diamandis talks about how 3D printers could go into space and set up shop once they arrived. This would eliminate the challenges (weight and expense) of taking goods and services to far off destinations; you instead 3D print them when you arrive at your final destination. This got me thinking, the problem is similar in that transportation of goods to a distant location is costly and challenging–making the parallel, why not have 3D printers in suburban homes that could print goods on-demand for an aging population?
For example, in medications; say your MD writes a code script for Coumadin, when your smart-pill container runs out the 3D printer goes to work printing your next month’s supply–no need to drive to town, no need to go to the pharmacy. What other kinds of applications are possible for 3D printing that would facilitate aging in place? This is just one example; the sky is the limit for creative solutions and opportunities to do well while doing good.
“Right now, and for the first time ever, a passionate and committed individual has access to the technology, minds, and capital required to take on any challenge.” -Peter H. Diamandis