The Camden Public Library will host a presentation on home safety by Camden firefighter Ed Geis on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Picker Room. After an overview of home safety tips, Geis will answer questions on home safety and fire prevention from the audience.

The free presentation is intended to promote fire prevention in general and one current effort in particular. Fire departments throughout Knox County are taking the initiative in 2010 to help residents keep their homes safe from fire and other hazards by offering free home safety surveys and heating system checks. The project was initiated by the Atlantic Engine Company No. 2, a nonprofit organization associated with the Camden Fire Department, after the company applied for and received a grant from FEMA’s Fire Prevention & Safety grant program.

“We’re offering people this opportunity because our job is to protect the community, and it’s far better to prevent a fire or accident from happening in the first place than to respond after it happens,” Geis said in a news release.

Geis said many people are unaware of common household hazards.

“Sometimes people don’t realize that they have a potentially dangerous situation in their home, like an overloaded extension cord, so it can be helpful to have somebody review the home with them,” he said.

Making sure everyone has working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, properly installed, is a key goal. When people are killed or injured in home fires, typically smoke alarms are missing or not functioning properly.

“Understanding different types of alarms and where to put them can be confusing for people,” Geis said. “And if an alarm is improperly installed so that it goes off every time you burn the toast, sometimes people get frustrated and yank out the batteries. A better solution that doesn’t jeopardize safety is to make sure the right type of alarms are installed in the right locations, and that’s where we can help.”

A home safety survey is an informal walk through the house with a trained firefighter who affirms safe practices, answers questions, points out potential hazards and suggests improvements, and checks the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the home. If alarms are missing, outdated or improperly installed, the firefighter will install new alarms at no charge. The survey is not an inspection and there are no violations. The firefighter conducting the survey simply assesses the home and makes recommendations to the homeowner.

Knox County residents can also arrange to have a free inspection and routine maintenance of their home heating system by a licensed service technician. Heating systems are the leading cause of home fires in Maine, and can also create dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the home if not properly vented.