Home is where Safety Begins

Our Close Call with Carbon Monoxide:The Importance of a Comprehensive Home Safety Plan

The Unanticipated Wake-Up Call

The morning of July 15, 2023 began like any other for us until an annoying beeping sound interrupted the peace.  Little did I know, we were about to experience a high risk home event. 

While I was lying in bed I could hear something beeping. Nothing incredibly loud but definitely annoying. It almost sounded like someone was repeatedly trying to gain access to my house through the coded lock on my front door, but was getting the code wrong, over and over again.  As it got more and more aggravating I noticed my husband was not in bed with me. I started to wonder why I wasn't hearing more of a commotion.  Was he even home? 

Unraveling the Mystery of the Beeping Sound

Then I started to hear my dog cry. He is a pretty aggressive and yappy dog but he only cries when he is really sad or super scared. I texted my husband asking if he was home as I still didn't hear anything other than beeping and dog cries. I got up, brushed my teeth, put clothes on and went downstairs to find out what was happening. 

It is wild to think about an emergency and how you dealt with it when reviewing it after.  Without a plan weird things happen. I found my husband trying to turn off the alarms in his mind, he was trying to solve the problem. I was laying in bed just angry that someone was disturbing my sleep. Neither of us actually thought it could be possible that our home was rapidly filling with carbon monoxide. It was completely surreal. 

It took us both a couple minutes of evaluating the situation together before we decided it was best to do this processing outside. We grabbed our phones. One set of car keys.  Both dogs. Got into our car.  Pulled out of the garage and began to truly evaluate what had happened and what needed to happen next.

The Role Google and the Fire Department

Thank goodness for Google. We asked Google what to do and were directed to calling 911. We were then redirected to the fire hall and within 5 minutes the fire truck arrived and the fire fighters entered our home to evaluate the situation. Their sensors went off immediately upon opening our door and entering.  They couldn't locate exactly where it was coming from but figured it was coming from our boiler system. They aired out our house and called Atco Gas. Atco arrived and their investigation confirmed it was coming from our boiler system. We then turned everything off and we prepared for a system repair. 

Our homes are supposed to be our safe space; our havens.  However we often get distracted by decor and fun renovations forgetting to make sure that the foundational elements of safety and security are in place. Once you have a safety plan it will allow for a complete and holistic enjoyment of your home. 

It is important to prepare a comprehensive home safety plan. Here are some of the elements to consider.

Home Locks and Security Systems

Have you ever been robbed? I have more than once and it is such an awful feeling.  It is violating and ruins the safe-sense that home provides. 

It is important to have home security systems, even if those are simply high tech locking devices. Making sure that when you are at home and while you are away that your space is secure. If you have just purchased a home we, real estate agents, highly recommend changing all of your locks and codes. If you have coded doors, consider changing these codes bi-annually.  Just like passwords these codes can be compromised. It is important to keep people guessing.

Home security is becoming so affordable and easily accessible now.  You could consider a Ring Door Bell or some cameras at the front and back of your house (Jeremy and I really like our Eufy Cameras). Not only do these act as deterrents they also allow you to keep track of what is happening around your home. 

If you are techy, my personal favorite are the apps that allow you to control all of these from your phone. I can't count how many times I have driven away from my home and can't remember if I close my garage door.  The app solves that problem much faster than driving back to check.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It is extremely important to have both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Taking these simple home safety measures will help protect you and your family. 

Smoke and fire can cause incredible injury and death. It is very important to make sure that you have functioning detectors. Alberta Health recommends the following installation minimums:

  • "Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement (but not in unfinished attics).
  • Put smoke alarms in the hallways that lead to each bedroom.
  • On floors without bedrooms, install the smoke alarm in or near each living area such as dens, living and family rooms.
  • Put a smoke alarm on the ceiling at the bottom of any staircase leading to upper floors.
  • Mount the smoke alarm high on walls or ceilings (remember—smoke and hot gasses rise). Wall-mounted alarms should be placed at least 10 to 30 cm down from the ceiling. Ceiling-mounted alarm should be placed at least 10 cm away from the nearest wall. If ceilings are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling’s highest point."

It doesn't hurt to have a few fire extinguishers around your house. Some locations to consider would be near the furnace room, kitchen and garage.  The challenge with extinguishers is that it is important that you make sure they are not expired, you know how to use them and on what types of fires are most effective. Make sure to educate yourself thoroughly before relying on these.

If you do not have combination detectors make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors throughout your house. You can buy plug in multi packs from Costco, Amazon and many other locations. Install them on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. Follow the directions carefully for installing and using the detector. Make sure you test them regularly and replace them if they are expired. Be prepared so that you know what to do if the detector alarm sounds.  Take a peek at the Alberta Health website for some additional precautionary measures you can take. 

Developing a Comprehensive Home Safety Plan.  Here are some points to consider:

  • What types of emergencies might you experience? Smoke? Break in? Carbon monoxide? No need to catastrophize, just do a little brainstorm and make sure you and your family understand. For example, when one alarm goes off, what is the next step? Do you call 911? Do you vacate the house?  Maybe you don't enter the home without support. 
  • Who do you have to remember to bring with you? Your wife? Children?  Tenants? Perhaps pets.  Make sure to know where everyone is in your home and plan to either warn them or grab them when you are exiting.  Communicating the plan with everyone is important. Also, you can purchase signs for your entry/exit doors, notifying emergency professionals as to where your animals are located in the house.
  • What might you need if you are stuck out of your house for sometime?  Having a set of easy on clothing in accessible locations would be of benefit. Making sure that you have something warm either at each exit or in your vehicles. (Perhaps, if you have pets, keep a leash in the car or close to the exits.) Making sure purses or wallets are in an easily accessible location. Essentially so that they are "grab and go."
  • Does anyone else have access to your home?  If an emergency happens and you are not at home or something happens and you are unable to get out of your house.  Do you have someone who can gain access? Provide a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, someone you trust with a code or key location in case of this type of emergency.
  • Stay focused on what is really important. Yes, we love the physicality of our homes and our stuff. We associate a lot of memories with material items.  However, it is important to remember none of that really matters in the end. It is you, your family, friends and pets that are of the utmost importance. 

After writing this blog post and having many conversations with loved ones. Reflecting on the experience and how whacky your decision making becomes when you are afraid. It is clear, having an emergency preparedness plan is crucial. 

Don't wait for a wake up call like ours. Set aside some time to review your home safety measures and create a comprehensive emergency. Your family's safety is too important to leave it all to chance. 

Post a Comment