Organizing for Safety

Our summer was filled with many adventures this year, some more joyful than others. One not-so-great moment was the small house fire at our vacation rental.

The exhaust fan in the bathroom spontaneously sparked and burst into flames with black smoke. At the time the only person in the unit was a 17-year old young man.  Thankfully he realized quickly what was happening; knew how to operate a fire extinguisher, knew where the extinguisher was and was able to douse the fire.  In sharing this story with others, many have stated they do not have a fire extinguisher in their home and had never considered purchasing one.

Liberty Mutual publishes this list of 6 must-haves for home safety/preparedness:

1. Risk detectors.
Risk detectors should be installed to alert for both smoke and carbon monoxide.  
2. Fire extinguishers.
Store multi-purpose A-B-C extinguishers in accessible locations in case a small, contained fire breaks out. More importantly, the USFA stresses that you take the time to learn how to use them, and especially where to aim at the base of the flames. Keep an eye on the extinguishers expiration dates and pressure gauges and replace as indicated. 
3. A first aid kit.
A first aid kit will include basic wound-dressing supplies and the like, but you should add extra essential medications required by any family members. The American has guidelines on the items to include and quantities based on how large your family is.
4. Battery-powered flashlights and a radio.
In case of a power outage, make sure you have battery-powered light sources (at least one for every member of the family) and a way to get updates from news sources and government officials. Keep extra batteries on hand as well, or consider crank-powered wind-up devices.
5. Food and water supplies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you have enough bottled water (one gallon per person per day) and canned or other nonperishable food items for all household members for at least three days. If you have pets make sure to keep a supply of their food as well. Keep your stash in a cool, dry place, and check it every six months (when you change your smoke detector batteries) to replace anything that's expired. And don't forget to include a manual can opener with your supplies.
6. An emergency game plan.
While not technically a supply, it’s essential that all family members know what to do if you need to leave your home because of fire, flood, or other emergency. But, more than half of U.S. households lack an emergency preparedness plan. Plan an escape route with a meeting spot outdoors, and discuss with family and friends where you will go in the event of an evacuation. You should also make sure everyone in the family is knowledgeable about where your home emergency supplies are stored.   - LM

We don’t always think about safety when we think about getting organized, but it’s one of the most important areas to consider.  My family was fortunate that no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.   Make time for a trip to the hardware store this weekend and stay safe!