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Columbus, Ohio

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Map the smoke alarms in your home

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This could take some time, so it will be our primary action for the next two weeks. It is important to know where your smoke detectors are. But based on what you learn about your smoke detectors, you may need to make changes in your home as well. The National Fire Protection Association says alarms should be inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. The association also says you need two kinds of smoke detectors. Photoelectric smoke alarms are best at detecting smoldering fires, like ones started by lit cigarettes. Ionization alarms do better with flaming fires, like kitchen grease fires. And smoke detectors need to be replaced at least every 10 years. So spend the next couple of weeks on these steps:

  • Draw an outline of your home.
  • Go room by room, marking the location of your smoke detectors, the types of smoke detectors you have (photoelectric or ionization), and their expiration dates.
  • Do you need more smoke detectors, or new ones, or different kinds? Make plans to get what you need.
  • If you buy new smoke detectors, install them with these guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association.

For more information on smoke detectors, check out this video from the NFPA.


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Check your water temperature

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Water at 140° Fahrenheit can seriously burn an adult in just 5 seconds. It can burn a child even faster. Setting your water heater no higher than 120° can protect everyone in your home from burns, and you will still be able to take a hot shower.

Water heaters often do not show the correct water temperature. So to check the temperature for yourself, use a thermometer that shows high temperatures, like one for meat or candy. Turn on the hot water tap in your bathroom, and fill a cup with the hot water (so that you don’t burn yourself by trying to stick the thermometer under running water). If the temperature is higher than 120°, follow the water heater owner’s manual (available online) to turn the temperature down. That will mean calling in a professional in some cases. But to prevent a burn, it’s worth it.