There are several items that you should
have to protect your family and home.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
Carbon monoxide detectors
Locks on your doors and windows
It is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in your house. It is also
important to know how and when to use it. Your landlord may provide a
fire extinguisher. If so put it in or near the kitchen.
There are 3 types of fires:
A. Fires of ordinary products such as wood, cloth, and paper
B. Fires that involve flammable liquids such as cooking grease,
gasoline, kerosene, paint solvents, etc.
C. Fires that involve electrical equipment.
Fire extinguishers are labeled with the type fire they will fight. ABC
model fire extinguishers are the most popular type because they can be
used for all 3 types of fires. BC models are the second most popular.
They fight grease fires and electrical fires.
Use your fire extinguisher only for small, beginning fires. Do not try
to fight fast moving, established fires or those that you have any doubt
of your ability to control. Do not move containers of burning liquids.
You could spread the fire or be badly burned.
Evacuate the building
Immediately call 911
Meet family members in a pre-determined spot OUTSIDE of the house. Never
re-enter a burning building.
It is always a good idea to have a family evacuation plan in the event
of a fire.
There should be at least one smoke detector in your home. It should be
located in a hallway, near the bedrooms. If your home has more than one
floor, a smoke detector should be located on each floor.
There are two basic types of smoke detectors:
Battery-powered smoke detector
A small dry cell battery that should be replaced each year powers these
smoke detectors. Your battery-powered smoke detector is of no value
without a battery or if the battery is dead.
Hard-wired smoke detector
Hard-wired smoke detectors are connected to the houses electrical
system. If smoke is detected in one part of the house, all alarms will
sound as long as there is electrical power. However, the detector will
not work if the electricity is off because of a power failure due to the
fire or for any other reason. Most hard-wired smoke detectors have a
battery as a backup in the event of an electrical failure. Remember to
replace the backup batteries periodically. The battery is an important
safety feature but the battery must be replaced each year.
Test your smoke detector
Every two or three months test your smoke detector alarm by pressing the
"test" button firmly for five (5) seconds. The alarm should sound. If
the alarm does not sound, contact your landlord immediately. If your
smoke detector occasionally "chirps" it means the battery is getting
low. You need to replace the battery.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
GFCIs are a part of the home electrical system designed to protect
people from a shock, which can happen instantly, even before a circuit
breaker can trip. For example, a curling iron dropped in a bathtub will
electrocute anyone who is in contact with the bath water. Even a circuit
breaker cannot act fast enough to prevent electrocution.
New homes are required to have GFCIs in the bathrooms, kitchen, garage,
and outside outlets to protect people from accidents like the example
mentioned above. Most commonly, a GFCI ((Figures 1 and 2) is installed
in the place of a conventional grounded circuit and can protect all
outlets on that circuit. If any outlet on that circuit is not working
the GFCI reset button (in the circuit box or one of the outlets) can
turn the electricity back on.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
What is carbon monoxide (CO)?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. It is
produced as a byproduct of combustion. Any fuel-burning appliance, vehicle,
tool, or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon
monoxide gas if it is not operating at top efficiency.
Do I need a CO detector?
You need a CO detector in your home if you have one or more
Gas water heater
Fireplace and/or woodstove
Gas clothes dryer
Gasoline powered lawnmower and other gasoline powered yard equipment
CO detectors operate either by battery or by plugging into an electrical outlet.
There should be at least one detector on each sleeping level of your home. There
should be an additional detector in the area of any major gas-burning
appliances: a gas furnace, gas water heater, or gas stove. Detectors should be
placed low to the ground because carbon monoxide is a heavy gas. The detector
should be at least five feet from any gas-fueled appliance or fuel-burning
What should I do if my carbon monoxide detector goes off, evacuate or ventilate?
When the carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm go outside for fresh air
because the carbon monoxide is at a dangerous level. Most of the time you will
be all right within a few minutes.
However, if someone in the household feels ill, or is experiencing "flu-like"
symptoms like headache, nausea or dizziness, evacuate all members of your house
to a safe location and call 911.
Remember to change the batteries in you carbon monoxide detector, if it is
DO NOT REMOVE THE BATTERIES FROM THE CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR FOR ANY REASON!!
except to replace old batteries.
This small device could save your life.
1. This document is FCS5233-05, one of a series of the Department of Family,
Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute
of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida. Publication: May 2002.
Revised: December 2005. Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Mary N. Harrison, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community
Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity
Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other
services only to individuals and institutions that function with
non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age,
disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political
opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension
publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of
Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and
Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean.
This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS
retains all rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all
agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the
State of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part
or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the
UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.