1. Smoke Alarms. Install alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Change batteries once every year; test them monthly; replace the units every 10 years. Smoke alarms can cut your family's chances of dying in a fire by nearly half. Plan escape routes and conduct fire drills with the entire family. Find two ways out of each room.
2. Battery-operated Carbon Monoxide alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up: Install a CO alarm in the hallway near the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area. In addition, place one at least 15 feet from any fuel-burning appliance. Remember, the proper installation, operation, and maintenance of all of fuel-burning appliances is the most important factor in reducing the risk of CO poisoning. Important note: If your family uses a portable generator, be aware that most of the deaths and injuries associated with portable generators are from CO poisoning from generators used indoors or in partially enclosed spaces. Locate the portable generator outdoors and away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
3. A fully stocked disaster supplies kit. Include nonperishable foods, water, prescription and necessary OTC medication, manual can opener, flashlights, radio, and batteries. Your kit should contain at a minimum, a 3 day supply. Store kit in easy to carry containers, like duffle bags. Include essential items for pets, too.
4. NOAA weather radio. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio broadcasts national weather service warnings, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.
5. A fully stocked first aid kit. Include a first aid manual, non-latex gloves, and bandages of several sizes, antiseptic wipes, and sharp scissors. Holtzman recommends that adults and teens enroll in a first aid and CPR class.
6. Emergency Preparation Sheet. Post a list of emergency telephone numbers near every phone in your home. Include the National Poison Hotline (1-800-222-1222), Police, Pediatrician, Dentist, Family Doctor, and Fire Department. Also include the telephone number of a friend or relative living outside of the emergency area. (A caller is more likely to connect with a long-distance number outside the emergency area than with a local number within it.) (You can download a free copy of Debra Holtzman's emergency preparation sheet, taken from her book, The Safe Baby. Visit her website at www.thesafetyexpert.com)
7. Hard-wired telephone. Regular phones that plug into a standard phone jack get their power from the phone company (which has emergency generators to power the telephone network), not from the power in your home. So if the power goes out, the phone will probably still work. Portable phones and cell phones are not reliable during a power outage and after major disasters.
8. Noncombustible escape ladder (for a multi level dwelling). Make sure it supports the heaviest person in the home. Become totally familiar with the manufacturer's instructions on how to safely use the ladder. Practice climbing out from a ground floor window.
9. Multipurpose fire extinguishers. Install in the kitchen, basement and workshop area. Use the extinguisher for only small, confined fires. While you are extinguishing a small fire, have other family members exit the home and telephone the fire department.
10. Invest in a home security system. At the very least, install audible alarms or tones on the doors and windows, which lets you know when someone enters or leaves your home. Get a dog with a yappy bark which can scare away intruders. Be sure to check references of people who work for you.
Lastly, designate a room in your home that will be your safe room. A big closet or interior room would be ideal. A hallway or bathroom will serve as well. Try to use a room with no outside walls or only one outside wall and small, if any, windows.