Home inspections are a common part of the home buying and selling process. Before purchasing or selling a house, you’ll want to ensure that it’s as fire safe as possible to prevent injury or death and significant property loss in the event of a fire. According to SGI Canada, there are more than 24,000 house fires each year in Canada, resulting in over 3,048 injuries and 377 deaths per year. If you’re buying or selling a home, ensure that it’s truly fire safe.
A Look at Smoke Detectors
Most home inspections have standards concerning the requirements for smoke detectors in the home. However, an estimated 18 percent of one- and two-family homes in Canada do not have smoke alarms, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. There are three basic types of residential smoke detectors available:
- Ionization Smoke Detector: This type of smoke detector is powered by batteries and is the most affordable. It can be mounted in nearly any location and uses a small radioactive source to detect electric current. When smoke enters the device and blocks the current, the smoke detector alarm sounds.
- Thermal Detector: Thermal detectors generally require a connection to an electrical supply instead of reacting to smoke. When the heat levels near the device increases to a certain temperature, the alarm will sound.
- Photoelectric Smoke Detector: This type of smoke detector uses a light-sensitive photocell to detect smoke and set off the alarm. Photoelectric smoke detectors require an electrical supply but also feature battery backups. The light bulb found in this type of smoke detector requires replacing every couple years.
Smoke detectors must be properly maintained to keep them working at optimal performance. According to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services, smoke detectors should be replaced at least every ten years and the batteries replaced each spring and fall.
Other Fire Prevention Tips
- Plan a family escape route and practice it with your family in every room of the home at least once a month.
- Install a sprinkler system in your home to reduce property damage and injuries in the event of a fire.
- Use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire if it’s contained, such as a fire in a waste basket.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible place and get a new one when the gauges indicate a need for replacement.
- Check your fire extinguisher on a regular basis to ensure it’s in good working order.
- Inspect your fireplaces and wood stoves for blocked or closed flues.
- Hire an experienced chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney annually for blockages, holes or corrosion.
- Have a heating and cooling specialist check your fuel-burning appliances before the start of winter.
- Do not use propane or gas cooking stoves to heat your home.
- Never use barbeque grills inside the home or garage.
- Don’t run gasoline-powered engines in the home or garage.
- Clean the ductwork for your gas-powered clothes dry on a regular basis.
Most residential fires can be prevented or extinguished early if the right precautions are taken. Even a small fire can grow into a blaze that consumes an entire home in no time at all. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself and your family against the dangers of house fires. Proper planning, sufficient preparation, and some fire knowledge can help reduce the chances of fires starting in your home.
If you are buying or selling a home, you will want to ensure that it’s as fire-safe as possible. For more information about fire safety or to get your home inspected for fire safety, contact your local home inspectors association.