Fall Safety Checklist

Article by Alan Fijalkowski

 

The beginning of the fall season is the ideal time to stop and look around your house. Is there safety equipment in your home that needs attention? Is your property uninviting to wildlife? Take a moment to consider tackling simple housekeeping and preventative maintenance tasks bound to keep you and your family safe and healthy year-round. 

 

**Fast Facts:**

  • The U.S.

    experiences

    an average of more than 355,000 house fires annually1

  • An average of seven deaths per day is due to house fires1

  • Cooking equipment accounts for nearly half of all house fire causes1

  • An average of 430 deaths annually is due to carbon dioxide poisoning2

 

Smoke Detectors – These devices should be tested every month, and the batteries replaced every six months. Be sure to test each room where a detector is installed. If you have a wired system, test to ensure house-wide communication among the devices. Smoke detector components degrade over time and lose sensitivity, reducing the unit’s ability to detect heat and smoke. Therefore, don’t wait for the device to start continuously beeping before you replace the unit. Plan to replace the unit every eight to 10 years from the date of manufacture. Non-wired devices can be easily replaced, as well as wired devices that share the same style installation connector.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors – These devices should also be tested monthly, and the batteries replaced twice a year. It’s recommended to install a detector on each floor and near sleeping areas unless the manufacturer suggests otherwise. (Contrary to popular belief, placing these devices high or low is not significantly relevant for the detection of carbon monoxide.) It’s also advised that carbon monoxide detectors are replaced every five to seven years. There is help for homeowners who are unable to afford to detectors. “When funding permits, West Metro Fire Rescue is able to offer low-cost smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to low income and elderly homeowners who live in the fire district,” explains Ronda Scholting of West Metro Fire. Homeowners may request up to three smoke alarms and up to two carbon monoxide alarms. Proof of homeownership is required. Contact the West Metro Fire administration office at 303-989-4307 weekdays or visit West Metro’s website for more information.

Fire Extinguishers – Although it is not a residential requirement to have extinguishers, it is always a good idea for homeowners to keep an extinguisher at the ready.  When shopping for an extinguisher, you will find household extinguishers hold five pounds of extinguishing agent and are classified as “A-B-C” or “A-B” on the label. Extinguishers can degrade over time so be sure to check the pressure gauge monthly and replace 10-15 years from the date of manufacture. However, consider a replacement if you see signs of wear such as a cracked hose loose handle or missing safety pin.

It is also important to find out if there are recalls for any of your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and extinguishers. Numerous safety products including extinguishers, smoke detectors, and smoke/CO combination detectors manufactured by Kidde, First Alert, and several other companies have had recalls issued. Find out which brand of equipment you own and then check the manufacturer’s website to see if that device has been recalled. You can also consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission website (www.cpsc.gov) to check for recalls on other safety equipment in your home.

Gas Furnace – Fall is typically when people fire up their furnaces for the first time in several months. It’s also when previously unknown issues tend to pop up. Be sure to call a professional immediately if you notice odd noises/rumbling, soot deposits, short cycling, irregular flame, your carbon monoxide detector alarming, or if your household members experience headaches. Maintain your furnace with an annual inspection and cleaning to keep airflow at optimal pressures and the system free of dust/dirt/debris that can be reintroduced into the air or even become a fire hazard. Regular furnace maintenance also involves replacing your HVAC filter to keep the air clean and help prevent allergies and respiratory issues in the home. Most HVAC filters require replacement every three months but can be replaced as often as needed if you experience recurring issues. When shopping for filters, you will find that the filter’s rating corresponds to the filtration capability, with higher numbers indicating the filter removes more allergens and pollutants.

Bears – The presence of bears is nothing new to Roxborough; however, the seasonal change means changes in local wildlife activity. Our large, furry friends will soon be consuming larger quantities of calories — up to 20,000 calories daily — in preparation for the winter hibernation. Prevent bears from exploring your property by following these tips:

  • Keep windows and doors locked.
  • Use rounded doorknobs instead of levers.
  • Keep scented items such as candles away from windows.
  • Trim tree branches that may provide access to an upper floor.
  • Don’t store food in an unlocked or flimsy area such as a shed.

Do not approach a bear if one happens to encroach on your property. Instead, make it known that it is not welcome by yelling, clapping, banging pots and pans, or even using an air horn. “We want to avoid situations where bears become comfortable around humans at all costs,” explains Jason Clay of Colorado Parks and Wildlife “It’s up to all of us to help our bears stay wild, and it takes a community-wide effort. We just ask everyone to do their part and prevent bears from becoming too familiar with your house and neighborhood.” Check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s bear safety page (cpw.state.co.us/bears) for more information or call 303-391-7227 if you have questions or concerns regarding wildlife safety.

The tips provided in this article are simple and easy ways for residents to keep their home and family safe.

Families and households with unique needs extending beyond the tips outlined are encouraged to seek professional recommendations to ensure their specific needs are met.

 
1 – Data obtained from the National Fire Protection Association Report on House Fire Statistics 1980-2016
2 – Data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
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