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The Best Tips for Holiday Home Safety

The holiday season is a time to be festive, but it’s also a time to consider home safety, especially regarding fires.

About 30% of home fires occur during December, January, and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), resulting in 38% of home fire deaths. The NFPA also found fires involving Christmas trees and seasonal décor cause twice as many injuries and five times more fatalities than the average home fire during the winter holidays. 1

Cooking, heating, and open flames, including those from fireplaces, contribute to the danger. Christmas trees, garlands, and other holiday decorations are also sources of fires. While fire isn’t the only hazard this time of year (falls, electrocutions, and poisonings are high on the list), there are fire safety tips that can protect your home, family, and guests.

Below are tips to avoid dangerous situations and ensure children and adults remain safe this holiday season.

Christmas Tree Safety

An average of 260 home fires per year start with Christmas trees. As a result of these fires, there are about 12 deaths and $16.4 million in property damage.2 To avoid your household becoming one more statistic:

  • Choose your tree wisely: If you purchase a live tree, make sure it is green, which means it’s fresh. The needles should not break when you bend them and shouldn’t easily come off the branches. An artificial tree doesn’t guarantee fire safety despite the absence of live trimmings. If you choose to purchase one, look for a label that states it is fire-resistant. Non-combustible materials will prevent it from easily burning.
  • Place your tree carefully: Set up your tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, portable heaters, and radiators. It should be out of the way and not block doorways, so there’s no danger of someone accidentally knocking the tree over. If the tree is live, fill the stand with water, as a dry one will be less flame-resistant. Also, cut a few inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood that will more effectively absorb water.
  • Be careful lighting and decorating your tree: Many Christmas tree fires have electrical To avoid a problem, inspect the lighting and check for cord damage. Any damaged lights and strands should be thrown away.

Turn off lights and decorations before bedtime, or install an automatic timer, and use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to lower the shock risk. To avoid an overload, don’t connect more than 70 strings of 50-bulb mini lights or 300-600 strings of LED lights (50 bulbs each) to one circuit; don’t overload extension cords either.

  • Properly dispose of the tree: Christmas trees dry out the longer they’re in your home and become more flammable over time. A lot of tree-related home fires occur in January for this reason. When a dried-out Christmas tree burns, a complete flashover can occur in less than a minute, as found during a burn test conducted by the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.3

Holiday Outdoor Lighting

Whenever you install holiday lights outside your home:

  • Place them near only non-combustible, flame-resistant, and flame-retardant
  • Check the label to ensure the product is certified for outdoor use.
  • Avoid damaging a cord’s wire insulation (use hooks or insulated staples rather than nails or tacks).
  • Plug outdoor electrical cords and decorations into a GFCI circuit to avoid shocks from improperly grounded
  • Even if a light string has been used before, look for damage before plugging it in.

Candle Safety

Candles cause one-third of all home decoration fires each year, whether used for decoration or during outages. Most home candle fires happen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 4 Fortunately, they can be easily prevented.

  • Use flameless candles: They can be as decorative as traditional candles; except they operate on batteries. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the house.
  • Don’t let a candle burn unattended: Never leave the room with a candle burning, even for a few minutes. Blowing it out easily avoids a potentially hazardous

Also, exercise caution when using candles to decorate your home. They should be at least 12 inches from any flammable item. And, use a sturdy candle holder to prevent them from tipping over.

Holiday Entertaining

To ensure the safety of your family and guests, keep in mind the following tips for entertaining:

  • Test your smoke detectors and alarms before the holiday (make sure they can be heard in the bedroom, halls, and everywhere else in your home).
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working.
  • Have a fire escape plan and inform visitors of what this plan is when they arrive.
  • Keep an eye on the kitchen to make sure cooking appliances don’t catch fire.
  • Store matches and lighters up high, locked in a cabinet, and out of reach of children.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays and check them often for burning materials.

Chimney & Fireplace Safety

Failure to clean chimneys is a major contributor to home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A professional chimney sweep can take care of the problem. It’s best to hire one that is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, who can thoroughly inspect and clean both your chimneys and fireplaces. They can check any wood-burning stoves as well.

You can also address a few safety factors on your own, such as:

  • Clearing debris from the fireplace: Logs and firewood quickly burn into ashes, which should be cleaned up to reduce flammable material that can collect in the chimney. Also, open the damper before any fire is lit.
  • Use safe materials: Avoid using painted or pressure-treated wood. All the fuel available in the fireplace should be consumed; otherwise, the fire will burn too slowly, and hazardous materials can build up in the chimney flue.
  • Set up your fire properly: By placing larger logs on the bottom, topped by a cross-layer of smaller ones and crushed newspaper and kindling, you can have a hotter, cleaner fire. This “top-down burn” method works by lighting the newspaper and letting the flame do the rest.

Don’t Forget About Home Security

Fire and electrical safety should be your top priorities this holiday season. Fire/smoke/carbon monoxide alarm systems are available for a complete home environment monitoring solution. But you also don’t want to skimp on security, as home break-ins and theft are on the rise this time of year too. Whether you’re entertaining at home or traveling, you can depend on Boyd & Associates for state-of-the-art security systems and 24/7 alarm monitoring services.

We’re trusted throughout Southern California and provide everything from simple touchscreen controls to video surveillance systems, door and window sensors, pet-friendly motion detectors, and window break detectors.

For advice on the best systems for your home this holiday season, and for professional installation, call Boyd & Associates at 888-919-3326 or contact us online today.

Sources:
  1. https://www.esfi.org/resource/holiday-data-and-statistics-359
  2. https://www.esfi.org/resource/holiday-data-and-statistics-359
  3. https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Winter-holidays/Holiday-fires-by-the-numbers
  4. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/holiday_infographic.pdf

How Fire Detection Systems and Alarms Work

Combination smoke detectors and fire alarm systems are lifesaving in buildings of all types. Fire is an extremely dangerous event and can easily get out of control. In addition to heat, smoke, and flames, fires can create a dangerous environment in which exposure to carbon monoxide, combustion particles, and other toxic substances can put lives in danger.

The Facts

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published the report, “U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties”, in 2013, which revealed an estimated 3,340 office property fires occurred per year, on average, between 2007 and 2011. On average, there were four civilian deaths and 44 fire-related injuries per year. Fires were most common when facilities were occupied, with peak times being between noon and 2:00 p.m., while more than one in four office fires were caused by cooking equipment. Electrical distribution, lighting, and heating equipment were other factors.

The report also found that fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, were effective in 88% of fires where they were installed. In such properties, deaths per 1,000 fires were 62% lower than in offices and stores with no fire suppression equipment with automatic functions.1

Alarm systems are extremely important for fire safety. Here is a look at how the automatic functions of modern fire alarm systems work, and how integrating wireless technology and combining them with access control systems can help people safely evacuate in the event of an emergency.

How an Automatic Fire Alarm System Works

Today’s wireless systems use radio frequency signals. Whether it has a sensor with thermistors to sense heat, opto-chemical or biomimetic cells to trace carbon monoxide gas, or uses photoelectricity or ionization to sense smoke or combustion particles, a detector sends incoming signals to a fire alarm control panel (FACP). The FACP itself can be connected to a building’s electrical system. It can also be powered by batteries or a backup power control when the electrical current is interrupted.

Once a signal is received from a sensor, the main control panel:

  • Activates audio alerts such as sounders (may include horns, gongs, or automated loudspeaker messages)
  • Turns on visual indicators like lights and flashers
  • Activates building sprinklers in affected areas

Different methods can be used to notify occupants on separate floors or connected structures, and even help them find the best escape route. This is useful when specific departments in an organization need to take appropriate actions specific to their role and location.

Some fire detection systems are designed to also:

  • Work with sensitive equipment in computer and clean rooms by discharging clean agents
  • Activate dry pipe sprinklers to protect people/property before the main suppression system kicks in
  • Provide notification of severe weather, bomb threats, hazardous chemical releases, and other events

Advanced fire alarm systems and smart devices can provide people with notifications on safe evacuation routes. Some notification appliances can relay alerts to a local fire department, other authorities, and the alarm company so help is dispatched right away.

Wireless Technology Integration

Wireless technology has made fire alarms more reliable in a world where telecommunications companies have shifted from traditional telephone lines to wireless and IP-based alternatives. Improvements in transmission speed and access to data make it more practical to connect fire alarm systems to wireless networks. Smart systems are more reliable as well, which helps prevent false alarms, as they’re based on the latest NFPA 72-2013 communication standards and can work on 4G cellular networks.

In a wireless mesh network, many devices can be installed without requiring a direct connection. Numerous communication paths can be created to improve reliability. Even if one or more devices are damaged, different communication paths can be found and the network will still function. Point-to-point or point-to-multipoint technology may also be used, but failure of a single device can disrupt the entire network.

A computerized fire protection system linked to a mesh network with bi-directional communication is the most reliable. Aside from a flexible design that remains functional in a variety of situations, it avoids the challenges of running wires in difficult locations, such as historic buildings, parking garages, and warehouses.

Wireless smart systems simplify central station reporting, so the status of the system can be monitored constantly. They also allow for mobile app control. This enables panels and alarms to be remotely managed, alerts of danger to be received from any location, and individual detectors to be monitored. As with an app for surveillance and access control systems, a mobile phone application for your fire detection system can let you:

  • Activate/deactivate the system
  • Check the status of zones
  • Add/manage/assign users
  • View email alerts
  • Access fire safety reports

How Fire Alarms Work with Access Control

Fire alarm systems can now be fully integrated with access control infrastructure. With this integration, a signal can automatically unlock doors that are connected electronically. The trigger of electric locks enables people to safely exit when detectors sense a fire or smoke condition. Otherwise, it would be difficult for occupants to egress a building where there is immediate danger.

Fail-safe locks are required per NFPA 101. It requires doors to automatically unlock if there is a loss of power to the access control system. This functionality is not present in a fail-secure electric lock. The NFPA guidelines also require electric locks to be interconnected with an automatic fire alarm and sprinkler system. During an emergency, such a system can promptly disconnect power from a lock mechanism so people can respond to warnings and protect themselves.

The standard also requires motion detectors that automatically release electric locks. In addition, it calls for egress systems that disengage power to electric locks via mechanical disruption. This type of setup usually involves a double-pole, double-throw momentary push-button switch (can be installed as an easily recognizable pull switch).

Contact Boyd & Associates

Boyd & Associates is a full-service commercial security and monitoring company offering the latest in integrated fire alarm systems. Focused on protecting homes and businesses in Southern California, we’ve also developed advanced security, access control, smart lock, and smartphone app solutions. We employ trained security teams to provide a swift response to emergencies.

Our fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection systems include hardwired and wireless devices. These use light, sound, and text alerts to notify users of a problem, and use a backup battery and cellular connection in case of a power failure. Our monitoring station is UL Listed and operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To request service or more information, call Boyd & Associates at 888-343-2852 or contact us online today.

Source:
  1. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/US-Structure-in-Office-Properties

Fire Alarm Systems: Major Benefits and Advantages

Fire alarms are among the greatest assets for homeowners.

From 2013 through 2017, there were over 354,000 home structure fires per year, as estimated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This resulted in an annual average of 2,620 civilian deaths and 11,220 injuries.

The most common causes of home fires were from cooking, heating, electrical distribution, and lighting systems, including those used during the holidays, like Christmas trees and lights.1 Fireplaces used during the holidays and colder months can create hazards as well.

A fire alarm system includes many components and features to help keep you protected. It saves lives by warning building occupants of emergencies so they can get out of danger. The typical components in a fire alarm system that provide protection and life-saving benefits include:

  • A primary/secondary power supply, including batteries
  • A sensitive carbon monoxide and/or smoke detector
  • Audible alerts, flashing lights, and other notifications
  • Pull stations, smoke alarms, and other initiating devices
  • A control panel for constant monitoring and dispatch management

Benefits of a Fire Alarm System

Fire alarms have many advantages. In the event of a fire, they provide detection and notification without you having to do anything. whether you are home or not. They can also automatically dispatch the fire department to your location. The greatest benefits also include:

  • Avoid Smoke Inhalation: Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death related to fires2; more so than heat or flames. A mixture of particles, chemicals, and gases, smoke causes everything from skin and mucous membrane irritation to swelling, respiratory distress, and airway collapse. Without immediate medical help, smoke inhalation can lead to suffocation and death. A fire alarm can protect you against exposure to harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and others often found in smoke.
  • Early Fire Detection: An audible or visual signal enables you to seek safety soon after the fire starts. Once fire and/or smoke conditions trigger the system, you can use an available fire extinguisher to protect your home and belongings or rush your family to safety. Early detection can enable you to avoid serious damage or destruction, so it is of extreme importance. In addition to providing security in the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and family rooms, a fire alarm can quickly alert firefighters so they can help minimize the damage.
  • Discounts on Insurance: When you install fire alarms, you can save money on home They help cut costs for insurance companies by reducing the risk of a fire destroying your home, appliances, and possessions. Installing a fire alarm system shows you are taking responsibility and are prepared for unexpected events. Instant notification of a potential fire and fast action can minimize the amount of an insurance claim; your fire protection devices can, therefore, go a long way in qualifying you for discounted homeowner’s insurance policies.
  • Decreased Risk of Fire Damage: Property damage can require large investments and a great deal of time to repair. You can also avoid damage to nearby properties when you install a residential fire alarm. This level of prevention is possible because a fire alarm system can enable firefighters to respond and put out the fire before it gets out of control. The less damage there is, the quicker you can get each affected room back in order.

Other Advantages

A home fire alarm system is affordable and easy to install. When a fire alarm is activated, it boosts your security and safety during a dangerous event. Additional advantages to consider include:

  • Placement Flexibility: A fire alarm can be placed just about anywhere you want. Its effectiveness is maximized when the detector is placed near the kitchen or other areas with fire hazards. Proximity to bedrooms and family rooms is important, as it’s easiest to hear the alarm when it warns of danger.
  • 24/7 Monitoring: Fire alarms provide constant protection, whether you’re at home, asleep for the night, or away in which case you can receive remote These advantages exemplify the many uses of a fire alarm system. Also, many systems include 24/7 monitoring services for constant protection no matter where you are.
  • Easy & Affordable: Once installed, fire and smoke detectors are easy to use. They automatically sense hazardous conditions without you doing anything. It’s not expensive to have a professional installer put them in; plus, even if insurance can replace lost or damaged belongings, you can’t replace personal items such as gifts from loved ones or photo albums.
  • Low Maintenance: Despite their importance, fire alarms require little maintenance, except for occasionally changing batteries or having them professionally inspected. There’s little obligation and cost-overhead associated with having a fire alarm system.

Additional Resources

For more insights on the advantages and importance of fire alarms, check out these resources from Boyd & Associates:

Additional insights on causes, circumstances, and statistics related to home structure fires can be found on the NFPA website and its informational report and tables.

Contact Boyd & Associates

Boyd & Associates has been providing fire alarm and other home security services since 1967. We serve homeowners throughout Los Angeles as well as Orange, Ventura, and Riverside Counties. In addition to dependable professional installation, we provide 24/7 fire alarm system monitoring, as all our systems have a built-in cellular connection. A backup battery is included as well, so your home remains protected even if there’s a power outage. Trained professionals monitor your system from a central facility, and immediately respond to alerts and notify the proper authorities who can potentially save your home, family, and belongings in an emergency.

Call Boyd & Associates at 800-381-2693 or contact us online, today, to learn more about our fire alarm system installation and monitoring services.

Sources:
  1. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/Home-Structure-Fires
  2. https://www.webmd.com/lung/smoke_inhalation_treatment_firstaid.htm