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New Year, New Home Safety Device Checkup

The start of a new year is a perfect time to check out all of your home safety devices and procedures.

“Any special day can be designated to change batteries – a birthday, anniversary, New Year’s Day,” said Judy Comoletti, a Division Manager with the The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Public Education Division.

Family caregivers may want to do a home safety check with their loved one who cannot get up on a ladder to change batteries in smoke detectors or whose abilities may have changed to safely exit the home in an emergency. According to the NFPA, at age 65, people are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires compared to the population at large.

The NFPA recommends testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms at least monthly and states that batteries should be replaced once a year or when the alarm chirps signaling a dead battery.

“It is a good idea to test the smoke alarm at least once a month to be sure it is working,” said Ms. Comoletti. “Working smoke alarms save lives.”

For those with the skill to use fire extinguishers, be sure to check that they are located in the best place in your home. “Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape,” said Ms. Comoletti. “Every home should have a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.”

For more information about fire extinguisher training and creating a safe escape plan, visit the NFPA website at

Another home health risk is radon, an odorless gas that can potentially cause cancer when someone is exposed over a long period of time. January is Radon Action Month and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.

Radon is found in every state in the United States in varying levels. An affordable radon test from your local hardware store is the only way to tell if the soil under your house is emitting dangerous amounts of radon. There are companies that can come to your home and conduct a radon test as well. The do-it-yourself test requires putting the device at about chest level in a lived-in area of your basement and leaving it for three months. Once the test is complete, mail in the device to a lab in the pre-addressed envelope that comes with it and expect the results in a couple of weeks.

If the test detects high levels of radon, you can make simple fixes like sealing cracks and holes in your basement or more expensive options that include installing systems to drain off the gas. It’s never too late to run a radon test--you can still reduce your risk for lung cancer even if you’ve lived with the levels for a long time.

To learn more about radon, visit the EPA website at

Start this new year off with a safe home for yourself and your loved ones by doing a home safety check today.

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