House fires are something most homeowners live in fear of, but today’s technology can help you ensure the safety of you, your family, and your home. Here are five high-tech ways you can reduce fire risk.
1. Install smart smoke detectors for added efficiency and convenience.
Traditional smoke detectors excel at one thing in particular: beeping at the least convenient times. They also rely on older technology to detect the presence of smoke. While this doesn't mean these traditional devices are inefficient or faulty, a smart smoke detector can offer a number of benefits that put it head and shoulders above traditional models.
Smart smoke detectors send alerts to your smartphone when they detect smoke. If they’re part of a full home security system, they’ll also notify the authorities. These devices can link to the rest of your home and perform other actions, like flashing your smart lights. Imagine if your home security cameras activated when smoke was detected, so you could discover the cause of the fire!
Some models of smart smoke detectors have built-in carbon monoxide detectors, too. If the detector picks up a cooking experiment gone wrong, you can silence it with the press of a button. Most smart alarms also send push notifications when the battery is low, instead of the ear-shattering chirp of traditional smoke alarms.
2. Install smart batteries to make your old smoke detectors more efficient.
A smart smoke detector can be a big boost to your home's fire safety, but you might not want to replace every single smoke detector. After all, the costs can add up. The next best option is to install smart batteries in your existing detectors. Smart batteries are inexpensive alternatives to more complex smart home systems.
Rather than beeping when the battery is low, a smart battery will send a notification to your smartphone. If one alarm goes off, it can be set to trigger the other alarms with smart batteries. You can connect your alarms together like this to better secure your home against fires.
3. Turn appliances off remotely with smart plugs.
How many times have you felt your stomach drop when you can't remember if you turned off the iron? According to the United States Fire Administration, 9.6 percent of all home fires in 2016 were caused by an electrical malfunction. Appliances that generate a lot of heat or use higher amounts of power bring a greater risk for fires.
Smart plugs allow you to flip off the power to your appliances from your phone, whether you're at home or at the office. If you plug your more hazardous appliances (e.g. irons, hair straighteners, etc.) into the smart plug, you don't have to worry whether you turned them off. You can check your phone to find out whether the plug is providing power, and if so, you can flip it off.
4. Prevent cooking fires with smart stovetops.
Too many house fires occur because homeowners walk away while something is on the stove. It's understandable; after all, a watched pot never boils, and if you have to let something simmer or boil for several hours, watching it could take a while. But if the stovetop flares and no one is around to stop it, fire can easily spread throughout the home.
Smart stovetops have built-in heat and motion sensors. If no one is detected in the kitchen for a pre-set amount of time (usually around 15 minutes), then the device automatically shuts off the stovetop to reduce the risk of fires. It can also detect sudden increases in heat and shut off the stovetop if it senses a fire.
If you're worried about it interrupting the meal, there's no need to. Just check on the dish every few minutes; as soon as the motion sensor detects motion, it resets the countdown.
5. Link your entire system together for maximum efficiency.
A smart home system should not be a walled garden. Smart fire detectors, alarm systems, batteries, plugs, and other devices should all be connected to one another through a smart home hub, like one provided by your local Internet company. When one sounds an alert, the others should too. Imagine if your smoke detector identified carbon monoxide in the air and sent a signal that caused your smart lights to flash. Even if you didn’t hear the siren, the lights would warn you. You would also receive a notification on your smartphone.
Ensuring your entire smart home system works together, whether through the same connection protocol (like Z-Wave or Zigbee) or through the use of a smart home hub will give you the most efficient system possible.
By spacing smart home devices around your home, you can give yourself the most warning possible if there is a fire, and you can reduce the chances that a fire will happen in the first place. When it comes down to it, you want to know if a fire starts so you can protect what's most important: yourself and your family.
Patrick Hearn is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity Home. When he’s not researching the latest gadget or home automation solution, he can be found at the latest coffee shop trying the newest pour-over.
If you have a home monitoring/detection system that sends you an alert if a fire breaks out in your home, you may be eligible for a discount on a West Bend Home and Highway® insurance policy. To learn more, contact your independent West Bend agent or find an agent near you by visiting www.thesilverlining.com.