Get an Early Warning
Smoke detectors increase your odds of surviving a house fire -- in fact, 65 percent of fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. You should have at least one on every level of your home, including the basement. NFPA codes recommend that you install an alarm outside each sleeping area as well as inside every bedroom (so an alarm will sound more quickly if the fire starts in a bedroom with the door closed). Having that extra alarm is what saved the life of 9-year-old Dante Schipman, of Fort Collins, Colorado, when the heat lamp from his snake aquarium fell onto his bed in the middle of the night.
The safest strategy is to buy interconnected alarms. "If there's a fire in your basement, the alarms in your bedrooms will go off too," says Comoletti. You can buy smoke detectors that use wireless technology if you're unable to hardwire the alarms into your home's electrical system. They're more expensive, but it's easy to install them yourself.