Nobody wants to spend their time thinking about worst-case scenarios, but taking steps to protect yourself and your family in the event of a fire could save lives. It’s definitely a situation in which a little productive worry goes a long way toward minimizing risk. If you haven’t already, review the fire safety guide for your apartment or condo, or check out these outreach materials from the U.S. Fire Administration.
Every home is different—for example, artists or craftspeople who use flammable materials will have additional steps to take—so be sure to customize your plan accordingly. Here are some essentials to fill in any gaps in your existing preparation.
An Absolute Must
You’ll still want to test your alarm regularly. Amazon
The rules for smoke detectors in residences are governed by federal, state, and local regulations. Hard-wired models are required in certain types of buildings (like new construction), and are considered the safest type of smoke detector because they are powered through your home’s electrical system with a battery backup in case the power goes out.
On April 1, 2019, a new law went into effect that requires all new or replacement smoke detectors on the market in New York state to either be hard-wired or powered by a sealed, non-removable battery with a minimum life of 10 years. This Kidde model fits the latter specification and also detects carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. The safety advantage of this type of detector over other battery-operated choices lies in the long battery life, which eliminates the need for you to remember to replace them once or twice a year. Important: You’ll still want to test your alarm regularly.
Keep It Under The Sink
Prevent larger flames. Amazon
If you have an unexpected electrical, oil, gasoline, or trash fire, the compressed foam (monoammonium phosphate) in this fire extinguisher can help put it out before it gets out of control. Great for home use, it’s also approved by the US Coast Guard for marine use if you secure it to your watercraft with the included bracket. It’s also rechargeable, which means it can be refilled by a certified professional so you can reuse the metal container rather than buying a new one.
No Extra Tools Needed
Don’t get trapped on the second floor. Amazon
Many apartment dwellers above the first floor have fire escapes attached to the outside of their building. If you live in a home where you don’t have a built-in escape route, this compact and flame-resistant ladder attaches to your window in an emergency. It comes in a 13-foot or 25-foot length, so be sure you’ve got the right size to safely get you on solid ground. It’s tested to 1,000 pounds of weight and comes fully assembled and ready to use.