June is National Safety Month. Throughout the month, the National Safety Council and various other organizations encourage businesses, individuals and families to take steps to make their environment safer for themselves, and everyone around them. Many accidents and injuries are avoidable if you are aware of common safety and health risks -- and by putting safety precautions in place.

Is your home safe?

Whether you have just moved into a new home or you have been living in the same place for years, it's time to make sure your home is up-to-safety standards. According to a recent survey by Qualtrics (on behalf of Kidde) many homes are not up to snuff. Findings include:

  • One in four homes in the U.S. needs updated fire safety equipment, leaving an astronomical number of families at risk due to aging smoke alarms. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing your smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Unfortunately, the majority of people are more likely to upgrade or replace a home entertainment-related product (such as their TV) than they are to replace their smoke alarms.
  • Many homes are also extremely under-protected. The average single-family home in the U.S. should have at least five smoke alarms. However, 67 percent of homeowners have four or fewer alarms, with 12 percent of homes having just one.

Direct Connect 911 Smoke Detector

When it comes to smoke detectors, we are seeing some significant advancements in technology -- such as the Direct Connect 911 Smoke Detector from PlugNProtect. This first-of-its-kind smoke detector is perfect for both homes and businesses. When smoke or fire is detected, the unit sounds the alarm and also automatically alerts central station emergency operators. This is a great feature because some people sleep through the alarm, or could be trapped in the home. In addition to local fire and rescue teams being called, your specified contacts are notified by phone or email as well.

This unique smoke detector lets the occupants concentrate on getting out of the building without worrying about calling 911. It can also help save pets that are home alone at the time of a fire. The Direct Connect unit doesn't rely on electricity, the Internet or a phone system, so it works no matter the circumstances. The hardware is free, no contract is required and monitoring is priced at just under $10. And as bonus, you may even save up to 20 percent on your homeowner's insurance. You can learn more and place your order at directconnect911.com.

Vial of Life

Often in a medical emergency, a patient may be unable or too distraught to speak to first responders. Vial of Life offers a way to provide medical information in advance that can be accessed by emergency personnel upon their arrival to your home. How it works is a person takes an empty vial and labels it with a Vial of Life sticker. Inside the vial, he/she places a filled out form that contains all the pertinent information. Then, the person places the vial in the refrigerator (so someone will easily be able to find it), and places a sticker on the window of their home so that first responders will know to look for the vial. This program is excellent for senior citizens, anyone with health conditions, or who live alone. The Vial of Life decals and kits are free. Learn more at vialoflife.com.

National Yellow Dot Program

A similar program is available to help crash victims communicate with rescuers. With the National Yellow Dot Program, a person places a folder in their glove compartment which contains a photograph and essential information regarding his/her health conditions, medications, allergies and other vital details. They then place a yellow dot on the rear window of their vehicle. First responders are trained to look for the yellow dot sticker, and consequently look for the medical file in the glove box. The National Yellow Dot Program is free as well. The kit includes a glove box form, yellow dot decal and suggested instructions to display the information correctly.

Safety resources

The National Safety Council website is a great place to start when you are looking for safety tips and other information. During the month of June, they dedicate each week to publicizing a different safety risk. For 2012, the weekly safety themes are employee wellness, ergonomics, preventing slips, trips and falls, and driving safety. They also offer products, tips and training for safety at work, at home and on the road. Plus the site features a number of summer safety and health fact sheets that feature tips for everything from bicycle and skateboard safety to sun and heat exposure to firework safety.

Another terrific resource is the Safe Kids USA website. Unintentional injuries are the number one cause of death to children ages 1 to 19 in the U.S. This comprehensive website features tools for parents and educators to ensure the safety of our children. The site features helpful safety tips in the areas of home safety, medication safety, sports safety, water safety and more. They also provide information on children's product recalls, details on how your can become a safety advocate, and lists of safety events in your area.

Kidde and Safe Kids have teamed up to hold safety events at select Home Depot stores across the country. The events allow parents and other consumers to find out about smoke alarm replacement, as well as other home safety tips and precautions. For a list of locations and events, visit kidde.com.

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