According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms — often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms.
Fortunately, a new generation of home safety technology — combined with tried-and-true safety practices — can help keep homes and families safer from the threat of home fires. First Alert offers the following tips and products to keep your family safe and healthy:
Be safe, replace: If you can’t think of the last time you installed a smoke alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace your old ones. All smoke alarms — including battery and hard-wired models — are tested to function for 10 years. Installing new alarms ensures you are protected with the most advanced smoke-sensing technologies and the latest safety features available. Conversely, by neglecting to replace alarms, you could be putting yourself, your family or tenants at serious risk.
Go for a 10: One of the greatest advancements in smoke alarm technology in recent years has been the development of new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, such as First Alert’s 10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm, which consumers have used to add fire protection to their homes. The Atom features an advanced smoke entry system designed to reduce the chances of false alarms, along with a loud, penetrating siren. In addition, 10-year alarms provide hassle-free protection so homeowners, property owners and renters no longer need to remember to replace costly batteries for the life of their alarms. They also eliminate the risk of ever having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.
Double-up on safety: There are two main types of smoke alarms — photoelectric and ionization — which utilize different technologies to sense smoke and fire. Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fast-flaming fires, while photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with a long period of smoldering (called “smoldering fires”). Rather than relying solely on one, install both — or a dual-sensor alarm — to maximize your protection. The NFPA and other safety advocates recommend having dual-sensor alarms because they provide the best potential for early detection of all types of common household fires.
Cover your bases: Even if you have smoke alarms in your home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you don’t have enough devices. To ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and carbon monoxide, the NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom or sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average-sized home in America — a two-story, three-bedroom house — needs a minimum of five smoke alarms.
From cooking to conversing to entertaining, the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It’s also one of the spaces that homeowners most often dream of renovating. A growing trend in kitchen design is personalization, where thoughtful updates go beyond stainless steel appliances and standard cabinetry to incorporate a host of interesting design elements.
By adding splashes of personality to your kitchen, not only will you make the space one of a kind, but you’ll also enjoy it more because it will reflect your unique preferences and style. Consider these key ways to breathe new life into any kitchen.
Switch up your cabinets
Want to give your cabinets a fresh look and add some pizzazz without refacing them or installing new ones? An easy place to start is to replace existing hardware. Just as jewelry completes an outfit, hardware adds a finished look to cabinets. The availability of a variety of styles and materials for drawer and cabinet pulls — metals, ceramics, crystal, glass, stone — makes it easy to update your cabinets with little cost and effort. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match hardware styles or experiment with different shapes to add character.
Another idea for freshening up your kitchen is to update a few key cabinets. For instance, you can paint the cabinets above or directly beside the stove in black chalk paint, allowing you to add fun words and phrases — or even a favorite recipe — with chalk markers. You could also remove the face of several cabinets from the frame and add a clear or opaque glass insert for added visual interest and an unexpected touch of beauty.
Finally, don’t forget about the often overlooked toe kick space — the recessed area just below the cabinets — which can be enhanced with subtle styling. Consider painting this area a fun statement color or adding tiles for a clever update you won’t see elsewhere.
Add vintage style appliances
While stainless steel appliances are popular in modern kitchens, colored appliances are a great way to add personality if you’re feeling the desire for something a little different. Elmira Stove Works offers several vintage-inspired appliance lines in a variety of styles and colors. Whether you opt to update all your appliances or choose a single statement piece, your kitchen will feel inspired.
For those who lean toward a retro or midcentury modern look, the Northstar line adds conversation-worthy color to any kitchen. Perfect for basement bars, bonus rooms and man caves too, this line combines throwback style with modern conveniences. Add a fun pop of color with classic hues like tropical blue, mint green and candy red, or choose from an array of custom colors.
If retro doesn’t suit your fancy, consider the Antique line, which features intricately detailed appliances with historic styling. These distinctive appliances are available in a range of traditional and custom colors, and can complement any vintage home design, including a rustic cabin, country cottage or lake house. For a turn-of-the-century feel, the Fireview stove is especially stunning, with a visible wood-burning component that can also be used to heat rooms.
Light up the room
Proper lighting is essential for performing kitchen tasks, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Lighting provides an opportunity to get creative and bring touches of personality to the kitchen. By blending practical task lighting with decorative ambient lighting, you can inject the right balance of function and fashion.
Overhead and under-cabinet lighting make it easy to chop, cut, cook and more. Add a bit of flair by using a layered approach — for example, strategically mix pendant and wall lights with recessed lighting. The globes that surround light fixtures are another great place to sprinkle in some character. From glass designs in vivid hues to textured metal looks, these surrounds come in myriad shapes and sizes.
You can find your favorite kitchen lighting options at local home improvement stores or boutique lighting shops. For something truly one of a kind, visit antique shops, flea markets and home decor reclamation stores. Whether an amazing art deco chandelier or an adorable Victorian decorative table lamp, you’ll discover unexpected gems for your kitchen.
Your kitchen should be as unique as you are. When you add personal touches, you’ll enjoy an updated, customized space that will have you cooking and entertaining in style.
Today’s homeowners are increasingly expecting their bathrooms to mirror some of the spa-like features that were previously seen only in hotels, resorts and luxury vacation rentals.
Home television shows and websites like Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com), ElleDecor.com and Houzz.com have showcased these once aspirational luxuries, while technical advances have made them more attainable.
With the baby boomer population among the most active of renovating groups, those wanting to remain in their current homes longer have an eye toward safety and accessibility, but also luxury and style when upgrading their bathrooms.
Here are some of the latest features transforming modern bathrooms.
On a cold morning, nothing would be more pleasant than reaching for a warm towel as you step out of the tub or shower. To help make your bathroom feel more like a luxury spa, a heated towel warmer keeps towels at just the right temperature for optimal comfort. If you don’t have enough space for a towel warming drawer or cabinet in your bathroom, space-saving towel warmer racks are also available. Some are free-standing, while others are wall-mounted.
Another option for warming up on a cold morning is to install a heated bathroom floor. Radiant floor heating can supplement your home’s overall heating system, making you feel warmer when standing on a tiled floor in January. Because these systems warm objects and people in a room, radiant floor heating systems are more energy-efficient than conventional forced-air. In fact, more people are comfortable with radiant floor heating at a lower thermostat setting than with forced-air heating at a higher thermostat setting.
From mirrors with automatic, built-in LED lighting options or fog resistance to magic-like mirrors incorporating built-in clocks, TV panels or digital assistant-connected features, the bathroom mirror has gone way beyond a simple place to shave or check your look. Bathroom mirrors with automatic sensors light up as your face approaches the mirror. Some high-tech mirrors include touch-screen controls, some are controlled by remotes while others are responsive to voice commands. If it’s connected to an advanced security system, you can use a smart bathroom mirror to check who’s at the front door while brushing your teeth. With a smart mirror that connects to the internet, you can watch tutorials on your favorite makeup app while getting ready for that big date. You can also check the news and weather or tell your digital assistant to turn on your coffee maker while you’re fixing your hair. The latest mirror features make all your simple grooming tasks easier.
Homeowners with the space and resources are increasingly choosing to separate the bathtub from the shower, opting for a much larger and more stylish soaking tub. While whirlpool-type spa tubs are not as popular as they have been in recent years, larger tubs for luxury bathrooms — disconnected from the shower — are considered much more desirable.
As showers are increasingly separated from tubs in modern bathrooms, curbless showers with linear drains are gaining in popularity. A curbless entrance makes showers easily accessible for all ages and abilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They can also accommodate a freestanding bench, wheelchair or other mobility aid because they require no center drain where water may pool or make users feel unbalanced. Usually located against the edge or back of the shower, linear drains are more hygienic, as they are most often designed with larger format tiles, reducing grout joints and seals where mold, mildew and grime can accumulate. Because of the larger tiles and the elimination of a center drain, more diverse materials can be used, including ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles, plus a range of solid surface materials like marble, granite or engineered stone products.