Artificial smoke swirls around Central Emergency Services firefighter Josh Thompson as he tells Ian Reger, 7, how to evacuate a burning building while demonstrating the department's new fire simulator at the Home Show at the Soldotna Sport Center.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
With each passing day getting longer and warmer, the home construction season is building to its peak, and many know no better way to prepare for summer projects than by attending the 28th annual Home Show.
The theme of this year’s show is “Spring into Building,” and it offers a wide variety of useful products, creative ideas and expert advice.
“It’s going really, really well. We’re close to record attendance,” said Cindy Heaverley, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Builders Association.
The simulator is housed in a trailer the department can pull to schools and other public places. The Home Show continues today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
This year’s event features more than 120 booths, as well as numerous free demonstrations, seminars and cash and prize giveaways.
“This is one-stop shopping for people with building questions,” she said.
As always, one of the purposes of the show is to demonstrate the latest trends and new innovative ideas related to the building industry, and some of this technology involves protecting the home and everything in it. This year people got an example of home safety even before entering the Soldotna Sports Center, by way of Soldotna’s Central Emergency Services’ Kids Safety House parked out front.
“It’s a neat system for teaching children what to do when a smoke alarm goes off and how to react in a fire,” said fireman Andrew Schwartz.
The Kids Safety House is a mobile classroom that simulates fire hazards to teach children fire escape techniques and burn prevention. At one end it is equipped with a kitchen, living room and bedroom, while at the other end is burn chamber. A door in the house can be heated to help children choose the right escape exit, and a ladder allows them to practice escaping through a window. The house also can be filled with non-toxic smoke to teach children to crawl to safety.
“This is the first unveiling of this type of trailer on the peninsula, and there’s only two others like it in the state,” said Gray Hale, fire marshal at CES.
Hale said funding for the roughly $75,000 Kids Safety House was paid for through a $103,000 Department of Homeland Security grant. The remainder of the money was used to purchase smoke detectors and other fire prevention materials for children, the elderly and those living in mobile homes.
Hale said another exciting aspect of the mobile classroom is that it has a fire prevention sprinkler system over the burn chamber to demonstrate how these sprinklers work and to debunk myths about them, such as they cause water damage worse than fire damage.
“The old cliche used to be smoke detectors saved lives and sprinklers saved property, but we’re starting to see sprinklers save lives, too,” Hale said.
Since smoke detectors are only as good as the batteries in them, and he said new data is starting to reveal detectors are not enough protection on their own.
“Last year, in roughly 80 percent of the fire fatalities we had, there were no smoke detectors or smoke detectors that didn’t have working batteries,” he said.
Hale said there is a push to integrate sprinklers into homes, much like how they are mandatory in public buildings.
Inside sports center, the innovative technology continued. One example could be seen at the Nature’s Remedies booth, which had a piece of equipment that may have homeowners saying goodbye to their big, bulky water heating tank.
“The American Tankless Water Heater saves space, time and money,” said Jane Simmons about a thermostatically controlled electrical water heater roughly the size of a briefcase.
Simmons explained that tankless water heaters can provide an unlimited supply of hot water at a specific temperature to reduce burns to children and the elderly. It also is smaller than a conventional water tank, which is an advantage to small cabin owners or anyone with a home where space is at a premium. Simmons also said the water heaters are environmentally friendly, since they can reduce household power consumption relating to water heating by 30 percent, and they are guaranteed for life.
While much of the products and services catered to the home builder, there were items for those who already have completed the task and are ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor. One such vendor was Dan’s TV and Appliances, which had, in addition to refrigerators washers and dryers, many models of wide-screen, high-definition televisions and Blu-ray disk players.
“There’s not many homes out there without a TV,” said salesman Tyson Wetzel.
He said many homeowners are making the switch from the old, boxy televisions to the wide, movie theater-like flat screens with high definition picture.
“This is the year Kenai and Soldotna go high definition,” he said.
There was no shortage of attendance for this year’s home show, and most said they liked what they saw.
“This is one of the best shows ever,” said Don Smith of Sterling.
“I’ve been building a house for the last few years, so this helped me get some pricing information, and gave me some new, different ideas that hadn’t occurred to me before. It was completely worth the four bucks it cost to get in,” he said.
The Home Show continues today at the Soldotna Sports Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, and children under 12 and active military personnel get in free.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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