31 Mar 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

A couple summers ago I decided to try something new: sailing. A 25 foot keel boat to be exact. I had always wanted to but because I didn’t know where to start I signed up for a week long introductory course. One thing I learned was that the number one enemy of sailors is not water (and drowning or the weather) but fire. Fire will take out a boat faster than you can say “Jack jump over the candlestick.” And so fire safety is drilled into the heads of would-be sailors.

Homeowners can take a lot of advice from sailors. Here are some of the things I learned. First of all, a good alarm system is the key to preventing tragedy and keeping damage to the possible minimum. For the sailor the options are different but for the homeowner it’s clear, you shouldn’t skimp on your fire-alarm and smoke-alarm system and you should heed the warnings about checking batteries. Your life and property may depend on it.

Fire safety doesn’t stop there. There should be fire extinguishers (the number depends on the home or commercial property and its size). There should be a fire plan in place and everyone should know there role in the case of an emergency, including children. Flammable materials should be kept away from sources of fire and indeed all possible sources should be assessed. This includes electrical wiring.

Fire alarm systems and sensors aren’t the only ones that should be installed. During my yachting experience I learned how carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that you can’t smell or otherwise detect but that can be absolutely lethal. It’s becoming more and more standard for homes to have these detectors installed but the word still needs to get out.

Of course, a fire is a rare occurrence (although I have experienced one myself, maybe I’m particularly unlucky) and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But the investment in a good system in the case of such an emergency is actually relatively small when you think of the alternatives. I think there’s no excuse to being prepared – especially when children are involved. Most mortgage companies, insurers, and banks require a system to be installed but it’s up to you and your common sense (and the expert advice of your installer) to make sure you have what you need.