Our world is full of risk—from perilous jobs to crazy driving conditions. That’s why we love to get back home and not worry about these hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home. But is your home as safe as it can be?
Your home should be your safe harbor: the place where you are protected from harm. This should be a top priority. Yet each year 1200 people or more visit the emergency room during the holiday months due to accidents and unintended injuries sustained from hidden dangers around their homes!
With a keen eye and some preventive action you can reduce significantly the chance of lurking safety dangers for yourself and everyone who visits your home.
The Top 12 Home Safety Tips
1. GOOD LIGHTING— Adequate lighting reduces the possibility of tripping and falling both inside and outside of your home. This is especially important in winters when days are shorter and darkness comes earlier. Critical areas for illumination are stairs, outdoors, and foyers. And please make sure your street number is both lit and visible from the street to help first responders find your home. The fix: Use adequate wattage, long-life bulbs and motion detectors.
2. ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS— Electrical issues (A flickering light or a dead outlet?) can be mild annoyances which actually signal a potentially serious danger. If not addressed, a faulty electrical system can result in house fires and shocks. The fix: If you’re experiencing any electrical problems, contact a professional right away. In daily life, check to see electrical cords are not frayed or pierced and extension cords are securely connected. Do not run too many cords to a single outlet. Remember to unplug small appliances, space heaters and power tools when not in use.
3. DO ROUTINE CLEANING— Not maintaining appliances leads to a greater chance of accidental home fires. The fix: Do the simple tasks regularly, such as cleaning grease off your stovetop, emptying the lint trap on your dryer after each use and keeping your chimney clean and clear.
4. SMOKE AND GAS DETECTORS— Every home needs functional warning devices to detect smoke and gases. The fix: Make sure smoke alarms also detect carbon monoxide, a deadly gas especially dangerous because it is colorless and odorless. Replace the batteries every six months—perhaps whenever you change your clocks. Create an emergency evacuation plan, build a preparedness kit, andpractice regular safety drills with your family to ensure awareness of procedures.
5. SECURE YOUR HOME— Many homes now have the latest technological advancements for music but still rely on locks and hardware designed and installed decades ago to keep you safe from home invasion! The fix: Do an audit of the entry points to your home—doors and windows and screens. Install secure screens,locks, and deadbolts if needed. For those entry points that do already have door knobs, handles, and locks, make sure that they are in good working condition.
6. WHEN YOU ARE AWAY— We all love our long weekends and out-of-town vacations, but unfortunately this leaves your home vulnerable to intruders. The fix: Create the illusion that someone is there. Leave a TV or stereo on in the room where a burglar would most likely break in. Have a neighbor pick up mail and the daily paper. Turn down phone ringers, draw the blinds, and don’t leave unsecured valuables in the home even if you think they are well-hidden. Don't hide keys around the home or garden, and never leave notes on the door suggesting you are gone. Put a lamp on a timer.
7. HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS— Even if you are an expert and know your way around electrical, plumbing, car or other household repairs, proceed with caution. Poor repairs are a recipe for disaster. The fix: Call a professional or ask me for a referral from one of our trusted sources.
8. VEHICULAR CAUTIONS— There is danger even before you drive on the street. While backing your car up, watch out for children and pets on the sidewalk and road. The fix: Be cautious and proceed slowly when driving vehicles in or out of your driveway. If your driveway does not have good visibility in both directions, walk down and look in both directions before you get in your car.
9. MAKE IT SAFE FOR ALL VISITORS— When hosting friends and family, look for additional safety challenges they may face. The fix: If small children are coming look for low, hard edges, sharp objects, easy-to-open cabinets with things like chemicals and cleaning agents. Look for falling and tripping hazards that may affect seniors.
10. BRACE WHEN NEEDED— Heavy objects are rarely braced in the home. Things like appliances, artwork, televisions, and aquariums present hazards when knocked down by a person or a natural disaster. The fix: Strap and brace all heavy objects and use security hardware for large artwork.
11. UNCOVER ANY HIDDEN DANGERS— If your home was built before the late seventies, there could be lead in the paint under the top coats on your walls and windows, and there might be traces in the varnish used on hardwood floors. In addition, asbestos often can be found in insulation and “popcorn”ceiling textures. The fix: Hire a licensed contractor to test for possible contaminants and remove them safely, especially prior to a remodel.
12. MOTHER NATURE— Your homeowners insurance will cover you in many instances, but did you know you may not be insured against natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes? Typically these require additional policies. The fix: Contact your insurance agent to ensure you have adequate replacement coverage. Home values escalate and many coverage amounts stay static. Discuss costs for adding disaster policies for earthquake. Finally - as mentioned above - having a disaster and communication plan can minimize the risks.
Safety Dangers to Kids You May Not Think About
Do you have small children who live with you? Even if you don’t, with the holiday season rapidly approaching, your home may welcome friends with young children and older family members. This makes now the ideal time to survey home your home for potential safety problems.
Did you know that as little as an inch of water can be a drowning hazard? A pail of water in the yard, large puddles from a storm, even a washing machine can cause a small child to trip or fall and become at risk. The fix: Watch for open ice chests and other standing water, and don’t leave toilet seats open.
Those button-sized lithium batteries power small electronic devices such as remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards and ornaments. If accidentally swallowed, they can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that might cause chemical burns and tissue damage. The fix: Only let small children play with mechanical devices and toys under supervision. Put these items away when not in use.
WINDOWS AND STAIRS
Every year, more than 5,000 kids end up in the emergency room after tumbling out of a window. Install window guards or window stops. Stairs are another potential hazard for youngsters with unsteady balance. The fix: Baby gates prevent young kids from getting on to stairs. All steps should have firm footing and be clear of objects as even older people can slip and fall or trip on items left on stairs.
Cats can scratch a child not used to playing with felines. The family dog may be big and loving but can outweigh a child by five times. Children can be knocked over, nipped or even bitten by a dog not used to the noise and activity of children. The fix: Monitor all play activity to ensure your pet is not getting anxious or angry.
Babies can get tangled in cords from blinds or shades. The fix: Excessive cords of any type should be removed or secured down. Keep cribs safely away from windows with cords.
Now’s the Time
With the upcoming holidays, now is the perfect time to check your home and address potential safety hazards threatening yourself, your family and your friends. It shouldn’t take long, most fixes are inexpensive and simple, and your effort pays dividends in peace of mind for many years to come.
If you would like our advice on how to make your home safer and need a list of trusted sources for home repairs, please contact us today. It’s our business to help you keep your home safe and secure for your family.