House fire survival tips
If your West Texas home is on fire, how many minutes do you think you have to get out alive?
If you’re like 80 percent of Americans surveyed, you’ll say five or 10 minutes. Wrong! According to Underwriters Laboratories, which conducts state-of-the-art fire safety testing, you have three minutes or less. “Most people underestimate the speed and power of fire and smoke,” according to the National Fire Protection Association. You shouldn’t fumble with the fire extinguisher, grab your photo albums or even rescue your cat. GET OUT!
UL reports that 30 years ago, you had up to 17 minutes to escape a house fire, but today’s homes burn faster. Why is that? Open floor plans can provide oxygen and don’t provide barriers. And synthetic building materials and furnishings burn at a much faster rate than the natural products used decades ago.
UL videotaped a dramatic side-by-side experiment that showed how rapidly a modern living room went up in flames compared with a vintage one.
“You want to have an escape plan and practice it regularly because there is a limited time window to act,” said Stephen Kerber, director of UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute. “We can’t emphasize enough: If you can get out, get out.”
The stakes are high. Residential fires kill more people than any other kind, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration. In fact, roughly seven Americans die every day in house fires.
Some of those deaths are caused by folks that tried to fight the fire themselves. Fire extinguishers are wonderful tools, but most people just don’t know when or how to use them.
FEMA says you should only use a fire extinguisher if:
• You are trained in how to use the extinguisher.
• You can put out the fire in five seconds or less.
• The fire is small and contained — like in a wastebasket.
• There is no flammable debris or hazardous material nearby.
• You have the right type of extinguisher for the type of fire.
• There are two ways to exit the area quickly if you fail.
Your priority should be surviving the fire, not putting out the fire. Here are several steps you can take — before and during a fire — to increase your chances.
Before a fire
Interconnected smoke detectors. You should have smoke alarms/detectors in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. And those alarms should be wirelessly connected to one another, so that if there’s a fire in your basement, for example, the alarm in your bedroom will go off.
Two exits per room. Map out two ways to get out of every room in your house, even if one of them is a window, and keep those exits clear.
Family fire drills. Practice your evacuation plan so that everyone in the family not only knows how to get out, but also reverts to the plan instead of panicking during a fire.
Clear address numbers. Drive past your house at night and see if the address is clearly visible from the street for emergency crews to find you. If not, install better numbers or lighting.
Close doors while you sleep. Fires that break out while you are sleeping can be particularly devastating. Closing your door keeps smoke out and temperatures down, giving you extra time to evacuate.
Designate a meeting place. Everyone in the family should know of a spot nearby — but out of fire range — where you will meet if you evacuate separately in a fire.
During a fire
Block smoke: If you are stuck in a room, close the doors and windows, and put wet fabric over openings where smoke can get in.
Get low: Bend way down or crawl as you evacuate because smoke rises and kills more people than fire itself.
Check doors: Look for smoke and feel for heat at closed doors, a sign that there’s fire on the other side. If so, exit through another door or window
Close doors/windows behind you. Close doors and windows as you escape to minimize the amount of oxygen that can fuel the fire.
Exit windows wisely. Crawl out backward facing the house. Then lower yourself until you are hanging from the window sill. This puts your feet as close to the ground as possible before you drop.
Don’t go back in. No matter what — or who — don’t go back in. Instead, alert firefighters so they can rescue people
Follow these simple tips and if you are the victim of a house fire, your chances of surviving may be greatly improved.
#realestate #texas #house #home #fire #inspection
Courtesy of US Dept of Energy
Is your water heater the right size for you house? | Photo credit ENERGY STAR®
A properly sized water heater will meet your household's hot water needs while operating more efficiently. Therefore, before purchasing a water heater, make sure it's the correct size.
Here you'll find information about how to size these systems:
For sizing combination water and space heating systems -- including some heat pump systems, and tankless coil and indirect water heaters -- consult a qualified contractor.
If you haven't yet considered what type of water heater might be best for your home, learn more about selecting a new water heater.
Sizing Tankless or Demand-Type Water Heaters
Tankless or demand-type water heaters are rated by the maximum temperature rise possible at a given flow rate. Therefore, to size a demand water heater, you need to determine the flow rate and the temperature rise you'll need for its application (whole house or a remote application, such as just a bathroom) in your home.
First, list the number of hot water devices you expect to use at any one time. Then, add up their flow rates (gallons per minute). This is the desired flow rate you'll want for the demand water heater. For example, let's say you expect to simultaneously run a hot water faucet with a flow rate of 0.75 gallons (2.84 liters) per minute and a shower head with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) per minute. The flow rate through the demand water heater would need to be at least 3.25 gallons (12.3 liters) per minute. To reduce flow rates, install low-flow water fixtures.
To determine temperature rise, subtract the incoming water temperature from the desired output temperature. Unless you know otherwise, assume that the incoming water temperature is 50ºF (10ºC). For most uses, you'll want your water heated to 120ºF (49ºC). In this example, you'd need a demand water heater that produces a temperature rise of 70ºF (39ºC) for most uses. For dishwashers without internal heaters and other such applications, you might want your water heated at 140ºF (60ºC). In that case, you'll need a temperature rise of 90ºF (50ºC).
Most demand water heaters are rated for a variety of inlet temperatures. Typically, a 70ºF (39ºC) water temperature rise is possible at a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute through gas-fired demand water heaters and 2 gallons per minute through electric ones. Faster flow rates or cooler inlet temperatures can sometimes reduce the water temperature at the most distant faucet. Some types of tankless water heaters are thermostatically controlled; they can vary their output temperature according to the water flow rate and inlet temperature.
Sizing a Solar Water Heating System
Sizing your solar water heating system basically involves determining the total collector area and the storage volume you'll need to meet 90%–100% of your household's hot water needs during the summer. Solar system contractors use worksheets and computer programs to help determine system requirements and collector sizing.
Contractors usually follow a guideline of around 20 square feet (2 square meters) of collector area for each of the first two family members. For every additional person, add 8 square feet (0.7 square meters) if you live in the U.S. Sun Belt area or 12–14 square feet if you live in the northern United States.
A small (50- to 60-gallon) storage tank is usually sufficient for one to two three people. A medium (80-gallon) storage tank works well for three to four people. A large tank is appropriate for four to six people.
For active systems, the size of the solar storage tank increases with the size of the collector -- typically 1.5 gallons per square foot of collector. This helps prevent the system from overheating when the demand for hot water is low. In very warm, sunny climates, some experts suggest that the ratio should be increased to as much as 2 gallons of storage to 1 square foot of collector area.
Additional calculations involved in sizing your solar water heating system include evaluating your building site's solar resource and determining the proper orientation and tilt of the solar collector. Visit the solar water heaterspage for more on these calculations.
Sizing Storage and Heat Pump (with Tank) Water Heaters
To properly size a storage water heater for your home -- including a heat pump water heater with a tank -- use the water heater's first hour rating. The first hour rating is the number of gallons of hot water the heater can supply per hour (starting with a tank full of hot water). It depends on the tank capacity, source of heat (burner or element), and the size of the burner or element.
The EnergyGuide label lists the first hour rating in the top left corner as "Capacity (first hour rating)." The Federal Trade Commission requires an EnergyGuide label on all new conventional storage water heaters but not on heat pump water heaters. Product literature from a manufacturer may also provide the first hour rating. Look for water heater models with a first hour rating that matches within 1 or 2 gallons of your peak hour demand -- the daily peak 1-hour hot water demand for your home.
To estimate your peak hour demand:
The worksheet example shows a total peak hour demand of 36 gallons. Therefore, this household would need a water heater model with a first hour rating of 34 to 38 gallons.
Worksheet for Estimating Peak Hour Demand/First Hour Rating *
Adapted from information from the Federal Energy Management Program Energy Cost Calculator.