We don't often notice the lowly smoke detector. It's usually white, small and made to blend into the wall it sits on. In fact you've probably spent more time annoyed at it beeping at you to replace its battery or blowing smoke away from it when you burn something in the kitchen than you have using it. But it's one of many unsung heros in the house that rarely get used but make all the difference in a dangerous situation. And you're almost guaranteed to have smoke detectors (unless you uninstalled them on purpose), but do you have a carbon monoxide detector? What about a weather radio or burglar alarm?
The first alarm system you should have in your home is a fire alarm. You've probably already got them, like we mentioned above, because they're regulation in your home. Each state has its say in how to choose one and how it's installed. You can see your state's details in a document on the United States Fire Administration website. They help save not only your family's lives but those of firefighters as well. We like a smoke detector system that is interconnected, meaning if any one goes off they all do.
Another important alarm is the carbon monoxide detector. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, with the CDC estimating 500 deaths and 15,000 hospital visits a year for the gas. It's colorless, odorless and tasteless so a detector is especially necessary. It's a good idea to keep one on each floor of the house as it's produced by some household appliances and can get trapped. CO poisoning begins with headaches, naseau and fatigue and prolonged exposure can lead to brain damage and even death.
Most people watch TV or check their computer for weather. But what about late night storms? If you're asleep presumably you're not alert enough to watch the Weather Channel. That's where a weather alert radio comes in. It will alert you to severe weather in your area and weather headed your way through alerts sent out by the National Weather Service. Alerts not only give you the chance to move your family in case of emergency, ours has made us more aware of the weather and what kind of plans we need to have.
We like portable models because they can be brought with you when you camp or travel. The NOAA suggests you look for one that has a Public Alert logo, which means it meets specific technical standards and features. This is a good idea because it gives you control over the area and lets you limit the alerts (trust us, if you don't live at the beach you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night every time there's a costal flood).
The last system we recommend is a security system. This is a bit more loose than the other three. For some this resembles world-class bank vault detectors and for others it's trusty rusty (your shotgun) and your coon dog Beau.
Here at Unpluggd we lean toward the more tech-based side of security, with a few cameras and perhaps an alarm system hooked up to a security company. A company connection means instant dialing of the police, fire department or ambulance depending on the situation. And of course the cameras are useful for catching burglars (including fluffy, feline stealer of snacks). Both are useful for monitoring your stuff when you're away from home. Cameras, however, give you control (sometimes even from your phone) and a company will take care of the details for you.