How Safe is YOUR Home?Fire Chief Shares Top 5 Necessities


When it comes to emergency preparedness in our homes, most of us: 1) think we’re prepared and would know what to do; 2) we really just don’t want to think about it, OR: 3) we just don’t know where to begin to get prepared.

As we celebrate local First Responders this month, MCM sought expert advice on this subject from 27-year Fenton Township Fire Department veteran (last 13 years as Chief), Ryan Volz. We asked Chief Volz to share his Top 5 emergency preparedness necessities. “These safety measures may seem basic, but it’s proven on a daily basis that they can save your life and the lives of your family members,” says Volz.

1. Smoke Detector

“A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of a fire in your home and could mean the difference between life and death,” states Volz. Fires can occur in a variety of ways and in any room of your home. But no matter where or how, having a smoke detector is the first key step toward your family’s safety.

2. Carbon Monoxide Detector

Odorless and colorless, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. “Since there’s no way to see or smell this deadly gas, it’s important to have a CO detector that can alert you to rising CO levels, giving you time to evacuate the house,” explains Volz.

Once installed, you need to routinely make sure that these devices are in working order. They all have a test button and it’s a good practice to test when you change batteries. “That loud ‘low-battery’ chirping noise your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors make is annoying for a reason,” adds Volz. “Detectors need fresh batteries to work and when they work, they’re able to save lives.” Internet-connected smoke detectors are even better because they can alert you if you’re away from home and can even contact the fire department. Smart CO detectors can alert you to the presence of the dangerous gas produced by space heaters and generators.

These devices also should be inspected for dust that might clog the sensors; the grill can be easily cleaned with a vacuum cleaner attachment. To test a smoke detector, you can light a match and hold it nearby to see if the alarm sounds. “If you don’t have a garage and your heating and cooling are both all electric, you might not need a CO detector, but a smoke detector is always a must,” says Volz.

It is also recommended that you demonstrate the sound of each detector type, so that family members know the difference.

3. Fire Extinguisher

A multipurpose fire extinguisher will protect your home and family in the event of a fire. It’s effective as a first defense against common combustible fires, as well as grease and electrical fires. Having one on hand in the kitchen, garage, and next to the wood-burning fireplace should be a no-brainer. “The key is to make sure everyone in the house knows how to use it!” exclaims Volz. He suggests replacing them as directed by the manufacturer.

4. Fire Escape Ladder

When disaster strikes, it pays to have a plan. You can save your life and the lives of your family by establishing an escape route to use in case of fire or other emergencies. “During a fire, there’s no time for planning,” states Volz. “Sit down with your family and plan for escaping a fire.” This includes choosing a meeting place outside, and having a drill twice a year.

Once you’ve identified your best exit route, create a backup plan. Example: If your preferred method of escape involves taking the stairs, give yourself an alternative means of exit through an upstairs window. For that, you’ll need a fire escape ladder. It can be stored compactly in a closet or under a bed, and deploys quickly and easily by attaching to most common window types.

5. CPR Training

“CPR training is important – it can save your life, your child’s life, your parent’s life or even a stranger’s life,” states Volz. Training is easily accessible to anyone who wants it and not hard to complete. “Learning the basics can be empowering, and it is something you will remember throughout your lifetime,” adds Volz.

You can also contact your local Fire Department, and they can provide you with information to obtain the items and training listed above. The Fenton Township Fire Department is committed to educating Township kids about fire safety with a “Safe at Home Program” offered in the schools.

Share this information with family and friends and keep everyone safe!


More Safety Tips

  • Install a home security system.
  • Dispose of expired or unused medications.
  • Store hazardous substances safely.
  • Remove brush and flammable material from around your house.
  • Teach children their address and how to dial 911.
  • Install motion-sensing floodlights in the backyard.
  • Keep guns locked up.



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