Jackson Shaw recently wrote this comparing smoke detectors to automatic screen lock policies for desktop PCs. While I agree that both smoke detectors are a great idea, there is another fire safety mechanism that far too few people take seriously, that is a fire extinguisher. Everyone should have a fully charged fire extinguisher in their house, but not in their kitchen.
Statistically the vast majority of fires occur in the kitchen, and most of those occur on the stove top. You want you fire extinguisher to be near the kitchen, but not too close to the stove so that retrieving it won’t expose you to harmful heat or flames.
So if screen locks are the equivalent of smoke detectors, what security mechanism is the equivalent of a fire extinguisher?
Coincidentally Bruce Schneier recently wrote this in which he make the risible argument that if one hears a fire alarm while sleeping in a hotel, you should ignore it and go back to sleep because hotel fires are very rare. Quite the contrary, completely false alarms in hotels are quite rare. While many alarms are due to small localized fires (such as in a trash can), they are seldom completely false. At a minimum it’s worth investigating what situation is before deciding to simple ignore it.