October (eek, it’s October!) is Fire Safety and Prevention month, and we are totally amazed at the advances in fire safety products for families. From appliances of all kinds with auto shut-off to smoke detectors that go beyond anything we ever grew up with, we’re blown away by the technology. So we’re really pleased to put together this fantastic list that we truly will hope keep more of you safe should a fire emergency ever break out in your own home.
And we’re especially delighted to be teaming up with a very important sponsor, The National Fire Protection Association, and bringing you these ideas on their behalf. They’ve even got a fun fire-safety trivia iOS and Android app for kids, Sparky’s Brain Busters — think Trivia Crack, only for kids! While of course we’re also checking our smoke detector batteries and reviewing escape routes with the kids, this is a fun way to help prepare your kids and inspire confidence in the event of an emergency.
So check out these ten, very cool fire safety devices we’ve found. You probably don’t need all, of them, but it’s really worth looking into them to see just what might help your family in case of an emergency. Plus? They’re just so cool!
You can find many of them at our affiliate Amazon, directly from the manufacturer, or at tons of the big home store chains across the country.
Smart smoke detector
The Nest Protect Smoke Alarm is an amazing innovation in smoke detection. Forget those chirping alarms that always seem to run out of batteries at 2:00 am; the Nest alerts your phone before a battery gets too low — which it will know because it checks itself 400 times a day. It tests your house for both smoke and carbon monoxide, but it’s smart enough to know that the steam from your shower isn’t a problem.
If you also have the Nest thermostat installed at your house, you get even more benefits. Because if your Protect smoke alarm does goes off, it will automatically tell the thermostat to shut off the furnace to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and smoke that could potentially spread through your house in a fire, which can limit damage and worse. Pretty amazing. (And hey, now’s the time to buy one, with nearly 50% discounts on Nest 2nd generation products at our affiliate Amazon while they last.)
Space Heaters That Don’t Get Hot
Space heaters can be tricky — some don’t get you warm enough, others get too hot and become a fire safety issue. But we think the newest model of the Dyson fan heater is one of the best you can buy. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s a space heater and cooling fan in one device, and what’s especially great for parents is that unlike with most space heaters, there are no exposed heating elements that kids (or uh, parents) can accidentally touch.
You can set the Dyson fan heater to turn off once you fall asleep too, which is good for both safety and money-savings. And during the day, it automatically turns off when it hits your desired temperature…or if it happens to fall over. Because, kids. Plus, they’ve made significant safety improvements in the last year from their original fan heaters, which is one thing we’ve always liked about Dyson; they’re just always getting better.
Smart Outlets Controlled by Apps
We think the WeMo Insight Switch is awesome, not just because we can turn on the lights in our house as we drive up the driveway or receive a text when our kids have reached their screen-time limit, but also because of the safety implications: Plug it into your outlet, plug in your appliance, and activate it with the app remotely. That way you can turn off your space heater or coffee maker even when you’re already halfway to school or work in the morning. Especially valuable when you’re one of those people always wondering, “did I leave the coffee maker on?” (We admit we are like that all the time.)
Of course it’s also a good idea to start looking of auto shut-off features in your small electronics; it’s so common now with everything from straightening irons to space heaters to clothing irons.
Another option that automates the whole process for you is the WeMo Switch and Motion. This device notices when no one has walked past its motion sensor in a while, so it can go ahead and turn your flat iron or space heater off for you, if they don’t already have auto shut-off features. Of course, if you do want the device to stay on, you can manage that preference from the app too. That’s great peace of mind.
About our sponsor
The Sparky’s Brain Busters app was created by the National Fire Prevention Association as a tool for parents to help their children 8-11 become more prepared to prevent fires at home. It’s great for kids who have outgrown the basic fire safety lessons for preschoolers, because it’s more like just a fun trivia app. Kids can race the clock or other opponents — even their entire classroom in school — to answer questions in five categories.
A smoke detector designed to wake your kids
We’ve known our kids to sleep through blaring alarm clocks and ignore car alarms that go off, but they do respond when they hear us call their names. Most of the time anyway. If you want to have an extra level of assurance that your children will wake up if their smoke alarm goes off, then you have to check out the KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm Detector ($74.99 at our affiliate Amazon). You can record a message specifically for your child like, Ben, wake up. There is a fire. Stay calm and remember our drills. The message alternates with three loud beeps to be extra sure your child is up.
The other thing we really love about this premise is that in a potentially fearful moment, thanks to technology we’re actually able to reassure our kids before we even get to them in person.
A smoke detector designed to wake anyone
Another great option in smoke detection is is the Kidde Strobe Light smoke alarm. If you have hearing-impaired kids or adults in the family, then you may deal with the fear that a traditional smoke detector may not cut it. However, a strobe light will, and this one will alert you when there’s a smoke or CO2 danger present using a powerful strobe. Even if you don’t have family members with auditory challenges, this may just be a great option in general, especially if you’re like our associate editor Kate, whose kids have hearing-impaired friends who spend the night a lot.
The Leeo Smart Nightlight is a previous top pick of ours on Cool Mom Tech and we still love it. Not only does it light your kids’ way out of the house in case of a fire — a reassuring feature all on its own — but it also monitors your smoke detectors. And that includes traditional ones you may own that don’t do anything fancy. By noting the frequency your smoke alarm emits, the Leeo will send an alert to your smartphone when it goes off. So whether you’re out of town or just in the backyard, you’ll know right away if there’s a problem inside the house.
Plus, our kids love that they can pick their own custom color to set the nightlight at each night. It’s the little things.
We’ll draw the line at stocking your home with a child-size fireman’s axe, but we do think it’s a good idea for those of you in two-story homes to consider keeping a Kidde anti-slip escape ladder upstairs. When you talk with your kids about a fire safety plan for your family, tell them where this ladder is and how to use it. Then, just tuck it under a bed or keep it somewhat accessible in a closet so that it’s not in your face all the time, but still within reach.
Another option is to install this cool built-in escape ladder by Werner, that’s hidden by a door and extends down three full stories.
An emergency breathing device
Admittedly the Saver portable breathing units will be overkill for most families’ emergency survival kits; one end is a flashlight, the other is a canister of fresh oxygen you can breathe should you ever be in the position to escape a smokey building. We could maybe justify the purchase if we lived with our kids in the tenth floor of an apartment building, where the risk of smoke inhalation may be greater than in a single-story ranch home in the suburbs where you can walk directly outside. But still, as far as fire safety technology goes, this one is very very cool.
Thanks so much to our sponsor and very important organization, The National Fire Protection Association, for doing so much to keep more families safe. If you have middle-grade kids or tweens, be sure to download the free Sparky’s Brain Busters app which is time a lot better spent than on most apps they probably play with.