Home Safety Guide
Table of Contents
1. Making Your Home Safe for Your Children
- Preparing for a Newborn
- As Your Baby Gets Older
- The Importance of Vigilance
- Using Products Safely
2. Home Safety for Seniors
- Reviewing General Home Safety
- Preventing Falls
- Installing Adequate Lighting
- Understanding a Senior Citizen’s Habits and Lifestyle
3. Making Your Home Safe For Your Pets
- Pet Food Safety and Poison Prevention
- Creating a Safe Space
- Identifying Unsafe Environmental Factors
- Safe Pet Toys
- As Your Pet Ages
4. Food Safety at Your Home
- Buying the Right Food
- The Importance of a Clean Kitchen
- Proper Food Storage
- Food Preparation Techniques
- A Word About Leftovers
5. Making Your Home Safe From Mold
- The Health Effects of Mold
- Identifying Danger Zones
- What to Look For
- If You Discover Mold Growth
- How to Prevent Mold Growth
6. Making Your Home Safe From Fire
- Fire Prevention and Safety Features in the Home
- Identifying Potential Fire Risks
- Dealing With Highly Flammable or High-Risk Substances
- Developing a Fire Emergency Escape Plan
7. Prevent Poisoning in Your Home
- The Potential for Gas and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- A Word About Other Types of Poisoning
8. Making Your Home Safe from Floods
- Determining If Your Home Is In a High-Risk Flood Area
- Flood Prevention Steps
- When a Flood Event Is Imminent
- Steps to Take During a Flood
- Steps to Take After a Flood
9. Garden and Yard Safety
- Making Your Yard a Safe Environment
- Yard and Barbecue Safety
10. DIY Safety at Home
- Understanding the Risks of Home Improvement Projects
- A Safe Working Area
- The Proper Attire For a Safe Working Experience
- The Responsible Use of Tools
11. Home Safety While on Vacation
- Before You Leave the House
- A Favor From Friends and Neighbors
- Keeping Your Trip Private
According to the Center for Disease Control, accidental injury is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2010, over 120,000 people died from accidental injuries, more than 26,000 people died from unintentional falls and more than 33,000 died from unintentional poisoning.
In addition to these deaths, it is estimated that over 29 million people visited an emergency room in 2010 to seek treatment for unintentional injuries. While accidents can happen in any location, the fact is that many individuals spend a considerable amount of their time at home, and many of these injuries and deaths do occur inside the home or on their personal property.
Because of this, taking time to learn more about how to make your home a safer place may yield considerable benefits and may help to prevent you or a loved one from becoming a statistic.
Making Your Home Safe for Your Children
Preparing for a Newborn
Many people will initially consider home safety for kids while expecting their first child or preparing to welcome another child into their home. While newborns may generally be rather immobile and require your assistance for care almost around the clock, the fact is that there are safety concerns in place when caring for a newborn.
For example, parents are often sleep-deprived for the first few days, weeks or even months of a young child’s life, and they may be fumbling around in the dark to provide care for the child at night. Reviewing the home for tripping hazards and installing dim nightlights in various rooms throughout the home can be beneficial.
Parents-to-be can also inspect the home for cleanliness. A young infant’s immune system is generally not as developed as the immune system of an older child, so taking steps to remove bacteria, mold or other particulates from the home can be beneficial.
Parents-to-be can also spend time making their environment and home life easier for those critical first few weeks of a child’s life when they are still transitioning into their new role as parents. For example, ensuring that all baby supplies are on-hand, preparing frozen meals for convenience before the child’s birth and other related steps can be taken.
As Your Baby Gets Older
While infants may be immobile and rely on parents for almost all of their needs when they are very young, they do grow and develop at a rapid pace. Some infants will be attempting to grasp for objects and rolling over within a few weeks or months of their birth. They will become increasingly mobile, and many are crawling or even walking before their first birthday.
Many accidents involving babies occur because young children are increasingly mobile and curious about the world around them. They may place things into their mouths that are poisonous or that cause them to choke. They may attempt to pull themselves up with unstable objects that fall onto them, reach for hot objects that cause burns and more.
Some parents will baby proof their home to prepare for this stage of development before the baby is born, but others will wait to take these steps until they begin to see that their baby is becoming more mobile and active. Parents can create a safe environment in their home during this stage of a child’s life by inspecting the home carefully for sharp edges and corners on furnishings, installing safety devices in electrical outlets, securing cords and curtain strings and removing un-stationary or insecure items that may topple over or move with ease. Babies will want to continue to explore the world around them, and it is up to parents or caregivers to provide them with a safe environment to do so.
In the Kitchen
Babies and toddlers may spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen. As a parent, you may be in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks or cleaning periodically during the day, and your child may be by your side. The kitchen can be a dangerous place for children, so parents will want to be extra vigilant about this area of the home.
Cabinets and drawers in a typical kitchen may be filled with dangerous options that range from deadly household cleaning products to sharp knives and blades. Installing safety latches on cabinets and drawers is advisable, but consider keeping one or two cabinets available for your child to access. For example, some parents will leave the cabinets that contain Tupperware or pots and pans open so that kids can explore these safe areas and entertain themselves while a caregiver prepares meals.
Safety devices can also be installed on the stove and oven to prevent kids from reaching up to the oven and opening the door while it is turned on. A guard can be placed over the edge of the stove to prevent kids from burning themselves with hot pots and pans.
Keep in mind that young kids can be resourceful, and they may quickly learn that they can push chairs or stepstools to the edge of the counter. Therefore, even the surfaces of counters should be kept free of dangerous items when they are not in use. You may also consider keeping electrical devices like coffee pots, toasters and more unplugged when not in use so that kids do not unintentionally become injured by unsafe use of these devices.
In the Bathroom
The bathroom can also be a dangerous place for young children. The cabinets in a home’s bathrooms should be secured with similar devices that are used in the kitchen. Guards or latches can also be installed on the toilet. This can prevent young kids from playing in a dirty toilet and being exposed to germs unnecessarily, and it can also prevent them from having their fingers or head smashed by a falling toilet lid.
Because the bathroom is often used for bathing, bathtub safety should be reviewed. Some of the most common injuries in the bathroom for kids relate to accidental drowning as well as to burns from scalding water. As a rule of thumb, parents should not leave any child unattended in the bathroom when the water is on or water is standing in the bathtub. Children can drown in just a few inches of water. Furthermore, they should not walk away from the tub when the hot water is running even if their child is not yet in the bathtub.
Electrical appliances in this room, such as hair dryers and curling irons, should be used with care and should be stored in an elevated position where children cannot reach them when they are not in use.
The Importance of Vigilance
Baby proofing or childproofing your home can help you to create a safe environment for your children regardless of their age. However, it is important to note that a home is a functional place, and the environment is constantly changing as you and your family members move around from room to room. For example, an older child may have dropped a grape or penny on the floor or a houseguest may have opened the blinds and left the cord dangling within arm’s reach of a baby.
Even when a home has been baby proofed, parents and caregivers should constantly scan the environment for hazards. They should also be aware of their child’s changing abilities with development and take steps to regularly secure the environment as their child grows.
Using Products Safely
Each year, more baby products are placed on a recall list because they are deemed to be unsafe for kids to use. Unfortunately, many of these products are recalled after babies or children have already been injured or killed with their use.
As a parent or caregiver, it is important to inspect all products that your kids use. This may include high chairs, cribs, strollers and various other items. Pay attention to factors like stability, possible choking or pinching hazards and other factors that may result in injury to the child. When buying used baby products, ensure that the product was not previously recalled due to safety concerns.
Home Safety for Seniors
Older adults may experience these and other various changes in their health and abilities at their own pace, so those who are caring for them should regularly monitor their changing abilities, their state of health and their environment to determine if safety concerns are present in the home.
Reviewing General Home Safety
If you are a caregiver of a senior citizen, it is important to review the home for general safety features. Ensure that there is a functional fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Also ensure that smoke alarms are functional and are placed near or in all of the bedrooms. A carbon monoxide alarm should also be installed in the home. Batteries for all of these alarms should be checked periodically and replaced as needed.
In addition, senior citizens should have a convenient way to call for help if needed. A phone should be placed in every room, or senior citizens may benefit from using a home health alert system in their home. Emergency numbers for neighbors, family members and others should be placed near each phone. Senior citizens who are having vision issues may benefit from a telephone with larger numbers for enhanced visibility.
Many injuries and deaths of seniors that occur inside the home are related to falls, so caregivers should be extra vigilant about identifying possible hazards that may cause slipping, tripping and falling.
Loose rugs and carpeting with frayed edges should be removed from the home. Doorways that have a raised threshold should be removed. Furnishings, decorative items and general clutter that are placed in an impractical way so that mobility is difficult should be moved. Railings should be installed on stairs, in bathrooms and in other areas where mobility for the senior citizen may be more challenging.
In the Bathroom
The bathroom is generally an area of the home that should be reviewed carefully. In this room, seniors who are dependent on mobility devices like canes, walkers or other devices may need to move freely to get dressed or undressed, to climb in and out of the tub and for other related functions.
In addition, flooring in the bathroom may naturally be more slick, and it can become even more slippery when it is damp. The use of non-slip rugs is imperative in this area, and non-stick mats may be placed in the bathtub or shower.
In addition, a seating area may be installed in the bathtub or shower to further minimize the risk of falling. Handrails may be placed in the bathtub or shower, in the entryway to the bathtub or shower and near the toilet. Some senior citizens may benefit from the installation of an elevated toilet seat.
Adequate lighting should be available in the bathroom as well as in the bathtub or shower area. You may also consider the benefit of installing a phone line in this room so that a senior citizen can more easily reach the phone and call for emergency assistance with greater ease if the need arises.
In the Kitchen
The kitchen is often an area of concern regarding the safety of senior citizens. In the kitchen, senior citizens may use one or both hands to hold food products, cooking utensils, dinnerware and other items. Because of this, their hands may not be used to hold a cane or walker or to grab for support when needed.
In addition, senior citizens may need to stoop down or to reach elevated heights to grab items on shelves. The flooring in this room also can be slick, and spills or leaks can result in wet surfaces. These factors can all increase the likelihood of injury.
To improve the safety of the kitchen for senior citizens, the height of shelving can be adjusted in cabinets and in the pantry. Non-stick mats can be placed on the floor. Handrails can also be installed in areas where a senior citizen may not be able to use a cane or walker, such as near the refrigerator or the stove.
Installing Adequate Lighting
It is common for quality of vision in senior citizens to decrease with age, and ensuring that adequate lighting is installed throughout the home can be beneficial. Take time to review the wattage of each of the bulbs in light fixtures throughout the home, and consider replacing low watt bulbs with higher watt bulbs to maximize lighting.
Install night lights in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms and other areas of the home to ensure that adequate lighting is available when a senior citizen maneuvers through the house at night or when waking in the middle of the night.
Consider using special devices, such as lamps that turn on and off with the touch of a hand, for easier function. Also, talk to the senior citizen about the importance of always turning lights on when entering a room rather than trying to walk through a darkened room.
Understanding a Senior Citizen’s Habits and Lifestyle
These steps can all be followed to create a safer living environment for senior citizens at home. However, it is important to note that each home is unique and each senior citizen may have unique habits or behaviors that may ultimately pose a danger to him or her. It is wise for caregivers to spend ample time observing the senior citizen in his or her daily routine throughout the day to determine if other steps should be taken to improve safety inside the home.
For example, if a senior citizen normally wears slippery-soled shoes or enjoys padding around the house in slipper socks, this behavior may need to be adjusted for safety. If a senior citizen has trouble performing regular activities, such as loading a dishwasher or a washing machine, assistance may need to be provided by you or an party to perform these activities.
Furthermore, keep in mind that a senior citizen’s physical abilities and habits both may change over time. Because of this, a caregiver should spend time observing the senior citizen periodically and making new adjustments to the home for safety as needed.
Making Your Home Safe For Your Pets
In many homes across the country, pets are considered to be members of the family. They are cared for almost as children are cared for in the home, and their loss may be mourned significantly by the family. Just as people can become injured or worse when unsafe conditions are present in the home, the same holds true for furry family members.
Many animals are naturally curious or may become curious or get into mischief when left alone for a long period of time. Pet accidents can happen at any time, but pets may be more likely to chew or eat things that they are not supposed to when you are not around. They may also run around and become entangled or even choked by loose cords and other items.
Many pet accidents can fortunately be prevented. By following a few key safety tips in the home and making several changes as needed, you may be able to promote the safety and health of your pet and minimize the risk of injury.
Pet Food Safety and Poison Prevention
One of your regular pet-related chores that you have each day is to provide your animal with fresh food and water. Just as people can become ill from eating unsafe food or from improper food handling techniques, the same holds true for pets.
Before you touch your pet’s food containers or offer your pet food or water, ensure that your hands are clean. Provide your pet with a clean food and water container regularly, and monitor expiration dates on foods. Scrutinize the food that you provide to your pet to ensure that it is safe and healthy for him to eat.
Also, take note that many types of human foods can be deadly for pets, and some of these include chocolate, avocadoes, grapes and coffee. These and other unsafe foods should be kept away from areas where a pet may reach them, such as on a low coffee table.
In addition, care should be taken to ensure that pets do not have access to harmful chemicals like cleansers, pesticides, medications and more. Furthermore, some plants are dangerous for pets to eat. Care should be taken to identify and to remove these poisonous plants from inside the home and from the yard to prevent accidental poisoning.
Creating a Safe Space
Whether you are at home with your pet or away from the house, pets can easily get into trouble when they are not monitored. Because it may be impossible to monitor a pet at all hours of the day, creating a safe space for your pet to stay when you are not at home, while you are sleeping or when you are otherwise inattentive to your pet is important.
Identifying how much space your pet may need to be comfortable while you are gone is important. Some pet owners will crate train their pets, and others may place them in a safe room in the home, such as in a laundry room, while they are away.
When selecting an area of the home to turn into a pet’s sanctuary, the temperature of the space should be considered. Ideally, climate controlled areas are preferred. Even garages and other non-climate controlled areas can become too hot or too cold for a pet in extreme weather conditions, so these spaces may not be ideal in many climates.
Identifying Unsafe Environmental Factors
Even when you are at home, your pet can still get into trouble. For example, pets may love to chew on kids’ toys, run into loose cords that can entrap them or chew electrical wires. Taking time today to walk through your home and to identify safety concerns is important.
Walk from each room in the home to inspect it from a pet’s eye view. Look for curtain cords or other cords that may be at a pet’s level. Move wiring for the TV, lamps and other items so that they are out of reach of pets. Place toys, shoes and other items behind a closed closet door. Ensure that food is not lying on a table top or in another area where you pet can reach it if he climbs or jumps up.
Because pets often spend time alone outdoors in a yard, it is important to inspect the yard as well. Electrical cords should be secured, and bodies of water, such as a pool or pond, should be enclosed. Children’s toys should be removed from the yard when they are not in use.
Windows should be kept closed, and this is especially true for homes with multiple stories. Pets have pushed through window screens and fallen to the ground below many times, so pet owners should not feel confident that a screen alone will keep a pet safe.
Safe Pet Toys
Many pet owners love to buy their pets toys. Toys can help to keep pets engaged and out of trouble that they may otherwise get into when left to their own devises. However, it should be noted that not all pet toys are safe for all pets.
For example, some chew toys that are suitable for smaller dogs may easily be shredded into small and unsafe bits of plastic by larger dogs, and these pieces of plastic can easily become choking hazards.
When you buy pet toys, take note of their durability and construction, and consider the size or type of pet that they were designed for. In addition, consider your own pet’s behaviors and mannerisms to determine if a specific toy is a safe option. When you do bring a new toy into the home, monitor your pet for a period of time to verify that the toy is being used in a safe way.
As Your Pet Ages
Taking these steps today can help to keep a pet safe on a daily basis. However, it is important to note that pets age at a significantly more rapid pace than humans do. Because of this, their needs, behaviors and mannerisms may change considerably over a relatively short period of time.
Diligent pet owners should actively monitor their pet’s changing habits, behaviors and abilities, and they should make changes to the home environment as necessary to accommodate the needs of their pet. For example, an elderly pet may have trouble walking down steps leading into the backyard, so a special ramp may need to be constructed to assist the pet with safe mobility in his later years.
Food Safety at Your Home
Accidental poisoning and food-related illnesses are highly common, and many of these events can be prevented. In some cases, eating unsafe food or food that has otherwise gone bad is the cause of the food-related illness. In other cases, improper handling or preparation techniques can cause serious illness or even death in some cases.
By learning more about proper food safety techniques and strategies in your home, you can take steps to decrease the likelihood that you or someone you love will be affected by accidental food poisoning or a food-related illness.
Buying the Right Food
One of the most important steps that you can take to help keep you and your family from suffering the negative effects of food poisoning or other related issues involves buying the right food. Grocery stores today generally go to great lengths to ensure that the food on their shelves is safe for you to buy and consume, but that does not mean that their efforts are foolproof. They simply cannot guarantee that all of the food they sell is not past its expiration date or that it does not have other related issues that could result in a food-related illness if the food is consumed.
When you are buying food at the grocery store, take time to quickly inspect each item before you place it in your cart. Look for an expiration date on packaged foods. For fresh meats and other related items in the deli, look for a date when the items were packaged. Keep in mind that some meats that were packaged yesterday may be placed right next to meats that were packaged a week ago, so diligence to review each of the items you place in your cart is important.
For fresh fruits and veggies, ensure that all pieces you place in your cart are fresh. Avoid buying cans that are damaged, boxes that are open and food that has been packaged more than a few days ago.
The Importance of a Clean Kitchen
In addition, you should take steps to properly clean your kitchen on a regular basis. It is common for individuals to wipe down kitchen counter tops on a regular basis, but ensure that you are using an anti-bacterial disinfectant both before and after using these surfaces. In addition, use a clean sponge or cloth for cleaning purposes. Sponges that are used repeatedly can easily be riddled with bacteria and other pathogens, so consider soaking sponges in bleach or replacing them often.
Other surfaces in the kitchen should not be neglected as well. The refrigerator, for example, should be thoroughly cleaned and wiped down every few weeks or every month. Microwaves, stoves and even trash cans in the kitchen should also be disinfected regularly.
The working surfaces, such as a cutting board, should also be cleaned before placing food on it. In addition, ensure that all pots, pans and other food preparation equipment is thoroughly cleaned before using it.
Proper Food Storage
Keeping your kitchen clean is important, and it is equally important to store food safely. Some foods, such as dried cereal or pasta, can be placed on a pantry shelf in a sealed container, and these foods may remain safe for individuals to eat for several weeks or longer.
Other foods, however, must be refrigerated or frozen if they are not going to be immediately consumed. When items like fresh meat, milk, cheese and other related items are left sitting at room temperature for more than a short period of time, they can easily spoil or develop other related issues.
For each food item that is brought into the home, it is imperative that you take the time to learn about its food storage needs. For packaged foods, this often can easily be determined by reading the packaging. If you overlook an item and accidentally leave it sitting out for too long when it should have been frozen or refrigerated, you should throw it away and replace it.
You should also pay attention to the temperature settings of your refrigerator and freezer. The ideal setting is for a refrigerator to be kept at less than five degrees Celsius and for a freezer to be kept at minus fifteen to minus eighteen degrees Celsius. Overfilling the refrigerator can have a negative impact on the refrigerator’s ability to keep foods cool, so avoid overfilling it.
Food Preparation Techniques
Just as certain foods will need to be stored in special ways, such as in a freezer or refrigerator, some foods will require special food preparation techniques. When it comes to preparing foods, you may understandable consider how the flavor or health of the food may be affected by different food preparation methods. However, it is important to note that food preparation techniques can also affect the health of the food.
Some foods, such as pork and raw eggs to name a few, are known to carry pathogens that can cause nausea, vomiting and even death in some cases. With these and many other types of foods, the food must be thoroughly cooked and should not be served raw in any way. Some meats may need to be heated to a certain temperature before consuming, and the use of a meat thermometer may be required to ensure safe food preparation techniques.
In addition, care should be taken to ensure that fresh foods that do not require cooking are thoroughly washed. Those who handle foods should also take steps to wash their hands and their work area before preparing foods. In addition, you should be aware that cross-contamination can result in health and safety issues in the kitchen. For example, when slicing raw poultry on a cutting board, the surface should be thoroughly disinfected before using that same surface to cut fresh vegetables.
A Word About Leftovers
Many people enjoy saving leftover food from a meal to consume in the near future. Generally, these foods may be placed in a take-home container from a restaurant, in a Tupperware container or even in the containers they were cooked in with a seal or lid over it. Each type of food has a unique shelf life, so it is important to pay attention to the individual shelf life of leftovers.
It is a smart idea to develop a tracking system so that you can easily monitor how long leftovers have been stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Some people will simply place a strip of masking tape on the storage container and write the date when the food was prepared. In many cases, foods should not be stored in a refrigerator for more than five to seven days after being prepared, and some foods may only stay fresh and safe to consume for a day or two.
When you do reheat leftover foods, ensure that they are thoroughly cooked. Bacterial growth and other factors can develop on leftovers just as they can be a concern with unprepared foods. Finally, foods should only be reheated a single time before being discarded.
Making Your Home Safe From Mold
There are many types of mold that can commonly be found in homes across the country and beyond. While toxic black mold may be among the most commonly known and publicized types of mold that affects homes today, mold may also be green, orange, white and other colors. It generally has a fuzzy appearance, but some types of mold may have a different appearance.
Mold spores can easily become airborne, and they can circulate throughout the home through manual transmission when carried on items throughout the home, through the heating and cooling system and more. Because the spores are easily relocated and transferred, mold growth can become problematic when not dealt with quickly.
Generally, mold requires only moisture and nutrients to thrive, so it is often found in darkened areas of the home. It can quickly grow and spread, and by doing so, it can cause property damage as well as health issues. In fact, whether you simply touch mold spores or you ingest them or breathe them in, you may experience a number of negative health effects.
The Health Effects of Mold
When exposed to mold spores, individuals of all ages may experience basic allergic symptoms. These symptoms may include everything from developing a simple and bothersome skin rash to coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath and red or itchy eyes.
Some people may experience more significant symptoms when exposed to mold, and those who suffer from an on-going respiratory condition, such as asthma or emphysema, may be more susceptible to experiencing more severe symptoms. These symptoms may include respiratory distress and even blockage of the airways. Some may develop flu-like symptoms, including a fever and chills.
Identifying Danger Zones
If you wish to create a safe, healthy environment for you and your family to live in, your home should be reviewed for mold growth on a regular basis. Because mold growth can develop on almost any type of surface that remains damp for even a short period of time, it can develop throughout the home.
However, some areas may be more susceptible to mold growth than others. These areas may be areas where bathing and cooking are performed. Plants that are watered inside the home, firewood that remains damp for too long, bathroom mats and crawlspaces may also be susceptible. In addition, if a home has had water damage or a roof leak, the interior of walls may be more likely to develop mold growth.
What to Look For
Inspecting your home periodically for mold growth and being observant of its possible presence in your home are critical steps to take. Because mold growth is so common and can cause significant health issues, individuals should also be conscious of the possibility of its presence.
Mold growth can be a wide range of colors that range from white and orange to black, brown or green. It may appear to be slimy, fuzzy or even leathery. In some cases, mold growth may be present but not visible. If you smell a musty, unpleasant odor, it is possible that mold is growing in the home but is not visible to the eye.
There are several steps that you can take to identify mold growth in your home in addition to a visual test. For example, you can purchase a mold testing kit at many home improvement stores, or you can contact a mold remediation company for in-home mold testing. A professional can tell you if mold spores are present in your home, where they are located and what type of mold spores are growing in the home.
If You Discover Mold Growth
Because mold spores can easily become airborne and spread throughout the home or make you and your family members sick, cleaning mold should be done with great care. You should consider the benefit of wearing a face mask and gloves when attempting to clean mold. Some types of mold, such as the mold that may be found growing in a drip pan in the refrigerator or on the tile in a bathroom, may easily be remedied with bleach, a scrub brush and water.
However, some types of mold should be removed through professional mold remediation surfaces. For example, if you have noticed black mold growth on your walls near an area that had a water leak recently, this may be toxic black mold that should be professionally removed. This is the best way to ensure that the mold spores do not spread throughout the home or cause serious health issues for you and other occupants in the home.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Mold generally grows by consuming nutrients from the material that it is growing on. Because of this, it can damage or even destroy anything it grows on over time. This may include furnishings, studs in your walls, carpeting and more. In addition, it can also cause staining of these surfaces.
If you notice mold growth in your home, you should take steps to remove it quickly. The sooner it is removed, the less likely it will be to grow and spread or to cause costly damage in the home. However, it is best to take preventive measures so that mold growth does not develop at all.
Because mold growth thrives in wet or damp areas, using a de-humidifier in wet areas of the home, such as the bathroom, is important. Allowing wet items, such as clothes and towels, to dry out thoroughly can also minimize the likelihood of mold growth. Plumbing leaks should be identified and repaired as soon as possible.
If areas of the home, such as drywall or flooring, have become damp, steps should be taken to dry them out thoroughly. Ideally, these surfaces will be completely dried out within 24 to 48 hours for the best results.
Air circulation throughout the home can also decrease humidity levels and moisture throughout the home. Ideally, the home will remain below 60 percent humidity. In addition, taking steps on a regular basis to thoroughly clean high-risk areas, such as the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room, can be beneficial at decreasing the risk of mold growth.
Making Your Home Safe From Fire
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were over 370,000 fires in homes in the United States in 2011. Some of these fires resulted in serious injury and even death to the homes’ occupants, and others caused costly property damage. Some fires may have not been preventable, such as those caused by lightning that struck the home. Others may have been prevented, such as those caused by carelessness with burning candles, cigarettes and other related items.
Because fires can quickly rage out of control and cause serious injury or death, it is important for individuals to understand how to prevent fires in the home and to ensure that they are prepared to take action if a fire does occur.
Fire Prevention and Safety Features in the Home
All homes should have one or more functional smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are generally battery-operated devices that are placed on a ceiling or the upper section of the wall, and they emit a very loud sound when they detect smoke in the home. They notify the home’s occupants that a fire is in the home so that they can immediately evacuate and call emergency fire crews for assistance.
It is ideal to place a smoke alarm on every floor of the home, and for the maximum level of safety, these alarms should be placed in or near every bedroom in the home. This makes it more likely for those who are sleeping in the home to be awoken by the sound of the alarm. These alarms should be tested each month to ensure that the batteries are still active. Even if the batteries are effective, you should replace the batteries every six months as a safety precaution. When inspecting or replacing the batteries, take steps to remove the dust from the sensor on the fire alarm.
In addition, you should also have a fire extinguisher available in the home. Most commonly, a fire extinguisher is stored under the kitchen sink in a home because many fires commonly develop in the kitchen with food preparation activities. It may be wise to keep a fire extinguisher on every level of the home so that one is always easily accessible.
Keep in mind that you should also know how to use the fire extinguisher. The time to read usage instructions on the fire extinguisher’s label is before a fire breaks out rather than after. For example, you should aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire rather than at the top of the flames.
Identifying Potential Fire Risks
These steps can help you to prepare for the possibility of a fire breaking out in your home, but you can also take steps to prevent fires. Not every type of home fire is preventable, but many are.
Electrical issues are a common cause of home fires, and some of these fires can be prevented by simply unplugging appliances when they are not in use. In addition, you should inspect your electrical cords regularly for signs of damage. Damaged electrical cords should never be used until the damage has been repaired. In addition, electrical cords should not be placed under carpeting or furniture.
In addition to electrical fires, other fires develop through cooking practices. When cooking, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that could accidentally fall into an open flame. Kids and pets should be allowed to play next to an open flame on a stove.
Furthermore, you should take time to learn how to deal with a grease fire. For example, you should never pour water on a grease fire as this can actually fuel the flame. Instead, covering the fire with a pot lid may be a more effective way to put the flame out.
Dealing With Highly Flammable or High-Risk Substances
Electrical fires and cooking fires may be two of the most common sources of home fires, but there are other potential dangers in and around a typical home as well. For example, some substances that are highly flammable may be stored on-site. These substances include oil-soaked rags, paint and even gas that is used for a lawn mower or other lawn maintenance equipment.
These items should be stored in a manner specified on the safety label. If a safety label is not provided on packaging, be aware that these types of substances generally must be kept far away from an open flame and stored in a cooler area of the home. They should be kept away from sources of heat as well as from items that may easily catch on fire, such as paper and towels.
Candles are another high-risk item in the home. Care should be taken to use candles according to the manufacturer’s label and in an area where they cannot easily be knocked over by kids or pets. They should never be left unattended, and they should not be used near curtains or other flammable objects.
Cigarettes are another common cause of household fires. Ideally, smoking should be done outdoors. When smoking indoors, a lit cigarette should always be carefully monitored, and hot ashes should only be placed in an ashtray on a stable surface. Lighters and matches should always be kept out of reach of children.
Developing a Fire Emergency Escape Plan
By following these safety tips, you can drastically reduce the risk of a house fire developing on your property. Furthermore, by knowing how to handle grease fires and how to put out smaller fires with a fire extinguisher, you can take steps to decrease the likelihood that a minor fire may rage out of control in your home and cause injury or death.
However, even when these steps are followed, there is always a risk that a fire may develop in the home. Because this risk cannot be entirely eliminated even when the best preventive actions are taken, it is imperative that individuals and families take time to develop a fire emergency escape plan.
Pause and consider each possible scenario, such as if a fire develops when one of your teenagers is home alone, when the entire family is asleep or if everyone is upstairs or downstairs. Consider each scenario and how you and your family will get out of the home quickly. Discuss with your children the importance of getting out of the home quickly, not trying to rescue a family pet and more.
In addition, if you have a multi-story home, it is important to invest in fire safety ladders and other types of safety equipment to ensure that all members of the family can escape through a window of their bedroom if they cannot get out of their bedroom door safely. All members of the family should be instructed how to use this equipment as well as where to meet when they are outside the home.
Prevent Poisoning in Your Home
Each year, many adults and kids alike are unintentionally poisoned in their own home. They may be poisoned by breathing in harmful substances or by accidentally ingesting harmful substances. In some cases, unintentional poisoning has resulted in serious injury that requires hospitalization, and some cases have resulted in permanent health issues or even in death.
Identifying potential dangers in the home and taking steps to decrease the likelihood of unintentional poisoning can be beneficial to you and those who spend time in your home.
The Potential for Gas and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
There are several different types of toxic gases that are commonly found in homes. Some gases, like natural gas that you may use for cooking at your stove or that may be used with a gas-powered fireplace, have a rather identifiable odor. Other gases, like carbon monoxide, or completely odorless, and you may not be aware of the presence of carbon monoxide in the home until it is too late.
Understanding the sources of these gases in the home and taking steps to prevent a leak or to identify the presence of dangerous levels of these gases can be beneficial and even life-saving in some cases.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide in the Home
Carbon monoxide can be difficult to detect in a home without a carbon monoxide alarm system installed. This is because the gas has no color, taste or smell. It is invisible and highly deadly. Even when death does not occur as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, long-term health effects are possible.
Carbon monoxide may be present in the home from a number of sources. For example, it is produced when other substances like coal, oil, kerosene and others are not completely burned, and this may occur through faulty equipment or because of other related reasons.
Identifying Risks of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One of the most important steps that you can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home is to first identify the potential risks. This involves identifying each gas-burning appliance in the home. These appliances may include stoves, ovens, dryers, space heaters, fireplaces and other items. Ideally, these appliances will be tested one time per year for leaks or other maintenance issues that may result in the production of carbon monoxide.
Homeowners should also be aware of warning signs that these appliances may not be functioning properly, and steps should be taken to repair them at the first sign of a repair issue. For example, a gas-burning stove may show signs of damage if the burner’s flame appears to be lazy and has a yellowish or orange tint. Ideally, the flame should have a bluish hue. When repair needs are identified, making the repairs should be a priority for the homeowner.
The Safe Use of Appliances and Equipment
Any time a gas-powered appliance or related equipment is in use, care should be taken to read the safety manual. The safety manual for these appliances and equipment will provide the homeowner with useful information for identifying specific warning signs for each item and for proper care to prevent a carbon monoxide issue.
In addition, usage instructions for the equipment should be followed closely. For example, gas-powered lawn tools, such as chain saws, should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces, and this is true for charcoal-burning grills and other related items that may emit carbon monoxide as well.
The Benefit of a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Even when the best preventive steps are taken to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide from entering the home, the unfortunate truth is that carbon monoxide leaks can still occur. Occupants in the home could breathe in small but dangerous levels of carbon monoxide regularly over a lengthy period of time and suffer serious health effects, or the amount of carbon monoxide in the home could skyrocket quickly over a short period of time and result in almost immediate death.
A carbon monoxide alarm installed in the home can be a life-saving device because it can detect even trace amounts of carbon monoxide and can signal to the home’s occupants that the air in the home may be unsafe to breathe. A carbon monoxide alarm may be placed on both levels of the home, and it may be especially useful in areas where gas-powered appliances are in use, such as in the kitchen and laundry room.
Learning More About Carbon Monoxide
Because all homeowners and home occupants may be exposed to carbon monoxide at some point in time, it is important to understand what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are. Even if an alarm has been installed in the home, recognizing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can ultimately save lives.
Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic the flu, and some of these include nausea, headache, fatigue and dizziness. Individuals may also notice visual disturbances and difficulty concentrating. If multiple people in a house develop similar symptoms and if symptoms disappear when they leave the house for a period of time, this is a sign that carbon monoxide may be present in the home.
Individuals who believe that they have been exposed to carbon monoxide should initially step outside to breathe fresh air. Then, they should open all of the doors and windows to the home and ensure that all gas appliances have been turned off. The next step to take is to visit a doctor and to request maintenance service on gas appliances.
A Word About Other Types of Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be very serious because it is a deadly substance that is often difficult to identify before it is too late. However, there are also other sources of poisoning that may affect individuals in a home.
Children may be most likely to be poisoned by other substances, and these include medications. All medications should be stored in a locked cabinet where children cannot access them. When they are in use, care should be taken to keep them out of the reach of kids, and kids should never be told that medication is or tastes like candy.
Even adults can become accidentally poisoned through the improper use medications. For example, when multiple medications or medication and alcohol are consumed together, the combination can be dangerous or lethal. Therefore, it is important for adults to read the safe handling and usage instructions of medications before using them.
Household Cleaners and Chemicals
In many homes, there are a number of household cleaning products and other chemical substances that must be handled with care. These substances include everything from hair care products and mouth wash to disinfectant cleaning products, pesticides, antifreeze and more.
These substances may be stored in rooms of your home like the garage, the kitchen, the bathroom and the laundry room. While you may choose to store them in a location of the home that is convenient for you, you should ensure that they are placed inside a locked cabinet where children who live in or who visit your home cannot access them.
Even when they are being actively used, care should be taken to be vigilant about their use. Keep in mind that a child can easily walk up behind an adult who is cleaning, for example, and grab the bottle before the adult is aware.
Even adults who are using the products as intended can be unintentionally harmed by them. For example, when certain types of household cleaners are mixed together during a cleaning session, they can emit a poisonous gas.
Another source of poisoning in the home relates to lead poisoning. Exposure to lead can be dangerous for all individuals because it can result in serious or even fatal damage to the kidneys, central nervous system and other vital organs. The substance is especially dangerous to young children and pregnant women.
One of the most common causes of lead poisoning is lead-based paint. Prior to 1978, lead was commonly used to make paint, so many homes that were constructed before this time had lead-based paint. Those who live in an older home built before 1978 should have their home tested for the presence of lead-based paint, and steps should be taken to remove it if it is present in the home.
Because exposure to this substance can be so dangerous to deal with, it is important to seek professional assistance to have it removed. Furthermore, children should be kept away from the area during the removal process.
Making Your Home Safe from Floods
Each year, many homes are subjected to minor or severe floods. Even a modest flood in a home can result in significant property damage, but these events can also take a toll on human health and well-being.
Whether your home is located in a flood plain or not, it may be subject to flooding at some point in time. It is important to identify your risks for a home flood and to determine what steps to take during and after a flood to keep you and your home’s occupant’s safe.
Determining If Your Home Is In a High-Risk Flood Area
Some homes are far more susceptible to major flood events than others. For example, homes that are located near waterways, such as oceans, lakes and rivers, may be more likely to be flooded if those bodies of water become engorged.
Flooding of these bodies of water may commonly occur during major weather events, such as major rain storms, hurricanes and more. However, they can also occur when factors upstream occur. For example, if a dam breaks, flood waters may rage down a river and affect a home hundreds of miles away. Even homes that are in low-lying areas away from bodies of water may be susceptible to flooding.
Flood Prevention Steps
Flooding events can become more serious and problematic for homeowners when proper steps have not been taken to allow water to flow naturally away from the home. By following a few flood prevention steps now, homeowners will be able to minimize the risk of their home being flooded.
For example, sealants and other coverings can be installed in basements and over ground-level doors and windows. These can help to make the home more waterproof and minimize the likelihood that water will penetrate into the home. If your home has a basement, investing in a sump pump can be beneficial. This is a device that pumps water that has penetrated into the basement up and out of the home.
Cleaning gutters and downspouts on a regular basis will also help water to be channeled away from the home during major rain events. Some floods may be caused by plumbing issues in the home, so investing in one-way valves can decrease the likelihood that flooding will occur because of plumbing issues.
When a Flood Event Is Imminent
Monitoring the weather forecast regularly can help homeowners to be aware of flooding dangers that may be imminent. When a significant amount of rainfall is expected over a short period of time, for example, the ground may have a difficult time absorbing the water, and water may easily accumulate above ground. When a weather forecast indicates a flash flood warning or watch is in effect, steps should be taken to prepare the home for the event.
Trash that is stored in an outdoor dumpster should be removed from the area around the home as far as possible. The basement should be cleared of as many belongings as possible or moved to an elevated area. If there are toxic substances stored in the basement or ground level of the home, these should be removed. When exposed to flood waters, they can leak into the water and expose you and others to toxins.
Appliances should be unplugged if possible, and they should be moved out of the basement or ground floor or placed on blocks so that they are elevated off the floor. It is also advisable to turn off the sources of gas and electrical power to the home before a flooding event occurs.
Finally, a flood kit should be on hand for the health and safety of the home’s occupants, and this kit may include a battery-operated flashlight, a cell phone, a first aid-kit, non-perishable food items, fresh water and other similar items.
Steps to Take During a Flood
During a flooding event, the most important steps to take involve ensuring the safety of you and your family. Flood waters can rise quickly, and these waters can rage out of control at times. Therefore, any steps to secure your property should be secondary to ensuring your safety during a flood.
If possible, monitor local news sources, such as television stations or the radio, to monitor the status of flood waters and weather conditions. You should pay attention to requests to evacuate certain areas and should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Avoid driving or walking into flooded areas, and always seek higher ground if possible. If inside the home, move to the upper floor of the home, and be sure to transport your flood kit with you if possible.
Steps to Take After a Flood
Depending on the severity of the flood, you may have evacuated or remained in the home during the event. After the flood, you should continue to heed warnings for evacuations and follow the rules of local authorities for your safety.
When you are permitted to return to your home, be aware that the structure of the home may have been affected, and wildlife may have sought refuge from the flood waters inside your home. You should enter the home with caution, looking for signs of structural damage such as small cracks, wood rot and more that may indicate structural weaknesses. You should be observant of dangers related to leaking gas or loose electrical power lines.
In addition, keep your eyes open for small animals, bugs and snakes that may be in the home. Flood waters can contain toxic chemicals, raw sewage and other dangerous or even lethal substances. Because of this, you should avoid walking into flood waters if possible, and you should wear protective boots, clothing and rubber gloves while cleaning the home of debris. The initial goal may be to dry the home out, so taking steps like using fans and opening up doors and windows can be helpful.
If possible, contact a professional water remediation company immediately for assistance. This type of company can use professional extraction methods to remove water quickly and safely. This can minimize the risk of mold growth in the home. The company may also provide disinfection services, and this may be beneficial for your health as items that were exposed to flood waters may be riddled with harmful bacteria. Some items that were exposed to flood waters may be unsalvageable and may need to be removed from the home. These include items like medications, cosmetics, rugs and other related items.
Garden and Yard Safety
Making Your Yard a Safe Environment
Whether your backyard is rather rustic and natural or it has been beautifully landscaped, the fact is that this area of your property may have a number of natural and man-made hazards that you should be aware of. For example, the pathways of your yard can have loose steps or dirty steps, and tripping and falling are concerns.
Keeping these areas clear of clutter and debris is important. In addition, you should take time to inspect the branches and limbs of shrubs and trees. These can become weakened over time or due to weather-related events and cause injury or death if they fall down.
In addition, it should be noted that some dangerous areas of the yard may be even more dangerous during the darkened hours of the evening. For example, a slick area of a patio or a dislodged stone in a path may be difficult to see at night. Therefore, investing in landscaping lighting to illuminate the space can be beneficial.
Identifying Man-Made Hazards in the Yard
While natural areas of the yard can be hazardous, it is important to note that man-made hazards may also be present. For example, pools and ponds can create a drowning risk in the yard. Care should be taken to secure these areas with a safety fence, and they should be illuminated at night. Even when these steps are taken, children should never be left unattended around bodies of water in your yard.
All yard tools and equipment, including hoses, shovels, rakes and more, should be removed from the space as they can create a tripping hazard. Dangerous items, such as sharp spades, pesticides, petrol and other items should be locked inside a cabinet when not in use so that kids do not use them. Keep in mind that even if you do not have children, children may visit your property or wander into your yard and discover these items.
Protecting Yourself When Working in the Garden
Many properties have a vegetable garden, flower gardens or other features, and the care and maintenance of these garden areas often requires you to use a number of different types of garden tools and equipment.
When operating power tools and motorized equipment, care should be taken to use them only in dry conditions. This can minimize the risk of electricity-related injuries. In addition, all tools and equipment should be inspected before you begin working with them to ensure that they are in good condition.
All equipment, including trimmers, chain saws and other items, should be used with care and only according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should ensure that you are standing on a stable, solid surface when using these items to minimize the risk of injury. If you must use a ladder while operating equipment or using tools, ask someone to hold the ladder for added stability. When the tools are not in use, store them in a locked cabinet if possible. If not, place them in an elevated position where they cannot be reached by children.
As a final note, your attire should be suitable for use with the equipment. For example, because loose-fitting clothing may become snagged while working with power tools, tight-fitting clothing is a better option. Other items that you may wear include gloves, slip-resistant shoes and protective eyewear.
Yard and Barbecue Safety
Many people love to spend outdoors barbecuing with their family, friends and neighbors from time to time. Whether you are relaxing with your family or have invited a large group of friends over for a barbecue, you should be mindful of the risks associated with barbecuing at home.
Barbecue grills can be fire hazards after they have been used even a single time, and this is because leftover food debris on the grill and the accumulation of grease can easily ignite. Taking time to clean the grill before use is imperative to minimizing the risk associated with using it.
In addition, you should take time to find a proper location for the grill. A grill can easily become very hot when in use. The heat from the exterior of the grill can cause burns, and it can also cause some materials, like dry leaves or hazardous chemicals, to easily catch on fire. The ideal location for a grill is on stable, flat ground and in a location that is removed from the home, shrubs and branches. Ideally, it will also be located in an area that is off-the-beaten path in your yard. You do not want kids, pets or houseguests accidentally bumping into it.
Before you light up the grill, ensure that you have a fire extinguisher handy as well as a bucket of sand or water. Even the most experienced grill-masters may run into fire issues when grilling, and these items can be used to quickly extinguisher a fire if a mishap occurs.
When grilling, be mindful of your attire. Ideally, form-fitting and fire-safe clothing will be worn. Furthermore, mitts and long-handled tools will be used while grilling. You should always stand next to the grill while it is in use to help keep pets, kids and others from running into it and to be on-hand in case a fire develops.
After you have finished grilling, take steps to put the fire out, such as placing a closed lid on top of it to suffocate the fire. Do not move the grill until it is cool to the touch, and you should ensure that all ashes are thoroughly cool before putting them into a waste disposal bin.
DIY Safety at Home
It is increasingly common for homeowners to tackle smaller and large home improvement projects. Many people love to put sweat equity into their home for pride of ownership with smaller repairs and upgrades. Those with more skill and time on their hands may tackle larger and more in-depth projects to improve the function, aesthetic appeal and value of their home.
Whether you have plans to repaint the walls in your living room, replace the floors in your home or expand your space, you want to consider following some do-it-yourself safety tips to decrease the risk of injury.
Understanding the Risks of Home Improvement Projects
Many people who tackle smaller and larger home improvement projects are more concerned with completing a project quickly or ensuring the quality of the results than with their own safety. However, it is important to note that many who tackle these projects are working with materials and tools that they have little or no prior experience with.
Professional contractors and handymen may work with power tools and dangerous chemical substances on a regular basis in their jobs, but the typical do-it-yourself homeowner may use these items rarely. With inexperience comes added risk associated with using these items.
A Safe Working Area
Regardless of the type of home improvement project that you have plans to work on, you should first take time to inspect the work area and to ensure that it is safe. Slipping and tripping are common with home improvement projects, so ensure that the floor of your work area is dry and free of debris.
If you will be using hot items, power tools or other items that may pose a fire hazard, remove the work area of flammable items such as grease, boxes, furniture and curtains and other related items. Also, consider installing a portable work lamp for added illumination, and keep a fire extinguisher close by or easily accessible.
Steps should be taken to keep kids and pets out of the work area. They may become hurt through the use of various types of equipment and substances, or they could bump into you while you are working with these items. You also should keep a cell phone and first aid kit nearby. These can be used for immediate medical assistance if you do have an accident.
The Proper Attire For a Safe Working Experience
Rather than jump right into your home improvement project, you should also take a moment to ensure that you have all of the right safety gear on hand to decrease the risk of accidents and injuries.Your attire should be carefully selected before you begin a home improvement project.
For example, tight-fighting clothing is optimal over loose-fitting clothing, and this is because loose-fitting clothing can easily become caught in equipment and machinery. Long sleeves and pants can add additional protection, and footwear, protective eyewear and ear protection may also be worn. Consider the type of work that you will be doing when selecting your apparel. For example, chiseling stone may create tiny, sharp chards of stone that fly through the ear, and the right clothing can protect you from injury.
If you are working with loud equipment, such as a nail gun or a sandblaster, ear protection can minimize the risk of hearing damage. If you are working with noxious fumes or if your work will create a dusty environment, the use of a respirator or dust mask may be imperative. Gloves can also provide protection when working with sharp objects, harmful substances and certain types of power tools.
The Responsible Use of Tools
With most types of home improvement projects, there is a need to use a wide range of tools and equipment. Some of these tools may be standard household items, like a screwdriver or hammer. Others may be power tools that run off of gas power or electrical power, or they may be sharp or otherwise dangerous objects that you do not have considerable experience using. With all types of tools and equipment, care should be taken to use them responsibly.
The tools and equipment should be used only as intended. For example, you should never use a screwdriver to try to dislodge a staple from a board. You should also take time to read through the manufacturer’s recommended usage instructions and safety instructions for power tools and other related equipment.
When using electric tools, ensure that the cord is in good condition. If it is frayed or damaged, it should be repaired before using it. Also, electrical tools should only be used in dry conditions and while wearing rubber-soled shoes. Aluminum ladders should not be used while holding power tools.
When using standard hand tools, ensure that the equipment is in good condition and that the handle and other components are not loose or weakened.
When using a ladder, always open the ladder fully as it was intended to be used. Never lean it against the side of a wall. Ladders should be placed on flat, level surfaces, and you may request someone to hold the ladder for you if you are concerned about stability. Non-slip shoes should be worn when using ladders, and you should use safety equipment, such as utility belts, when using tools and other supplies while on the ladder.
When You Store Tools and Supplies
After you have completed your work for the day, ensure that you clean up your work area. Cleaning the work area of hazardous materials and debris is imperative as this can help you to keep you, your family members and your pets free from harm.
Harmful chemicals should be sealed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and should be placed behind a locked cabinet door if possible. Likewise, power tools and other types of tools and equipment should be safely stored behind a locked cabinet door. This can minimize the risk that they may become damaged accidently is they are left laying out, and it can also minimize the possibility that kids and pets may use them inappropriately and cause injury to themselves or others.
Home Safety While on Vacation
As a homeowner, you may understandably go to great lengths to keep your property safe and secure while you are at home and to minimize the risk to you, your loved ones and houseguests in your home. However, there are many times when homeowners may need to leave their property for an extended period of time, such as while traveling on business or pleasure.
Homes that appear to be vacant or unoccupied for a period of time may be more likely to be targeted by vandals and other criminals. Furthermore, these homes may also experience issues that may go unnoticed because of the lack of human presence in the home, and these issues may quickly develop into serious issues. However, you can take steps to minimize these risks and to keep your home safe while you are away on your upcoming trip.
Before You Leave the House
If your home is like most, you may have one or more types of alarms in place that are used to signal danger. For example, a smoke alarm may go off if a fire is in the home, and a home security alarm may go off if an intruder attempts to break in. Before you leave, take steps to ensure these alarms are in proper working order. Replace the batteries on your alarms, and ensure that your security alarm monitoring companies knows the dates when you will be out of town.
Ensure that all doors and windows are securely locked, and this includes windows on the second floor of the home. Turn off the automatic garage door opener, and use the deadbolt latch to lock the door manually from the inside. Remove all spare keys that you have placed outside your home, such as in a false rock or under the front door mat.
For all non-critical electrical appliances, unplug the cord from the electrical outlet. Exceptions may be the heater or air conditioner and the refrigerator. These steps can help to secure the home from danger while you are away.
Using a Timer for Lights and Appliances
In addition, you should pause and consider how your home may look from the street level when you are away. Will there be a car in the driveway? Will the house be completely dark at night? Will someone walking by the front of the home hear the phone ring incessantly if someone calls your home phone number?
Ideally, you should use a timer to have the lights and some appliances in your home turn on at specific times of the day. For example, you may use a timer for the living room light and TV to turn these items on for a few hours each evening, and a second timer may be used to flip on the bedroom light in the master bedroom later that night. This gives the illusion to those outside the home that someone is inside the house.
In addition, leave the exterior porch light on so that your house is never completely dark, even in the middle of the night. The ringer of the phone should be muted, and you should avoid changing the message on your answer machine. Some people will change the message to tell others that they are out of town and when they will be returning, but this can tell strangers that you are out of town too.
Storing Valuables for Safe Keeping
Valuables should be stored away in a safe, secure place and far away from windows where prying eyes may peer into the home. Items like expensive electronics, jewelry, fine works of art and more should be moved to a more secure location. If possible, they should be locked inside a safe. If this is not possible, placing these items on a second floor of the home where those looking inside the ground floor of your home cannot see them is preferred.
Keep in mind that many criminals will stake out a home before breaking into it. If they see a valuable enough incentive to break into the home, they will likely attempt to do so. When you move your valuables to a safe, unseen location in the home, you have taken away some of the incentive they may have to break into your home.
A Favor From Friends and Neighbors
You may also consider the benefits of asking your close friends or neighbors for a favor while away. You may not realize that you perform a number of tasks on a regular basis that help to make your home appear to be occupied.
For example, you may pick up you newspaper from the driveway every morning and collect your mail from the mailbox every afternoon. You may mow your lawn every week, and you may also take your trash bin down to the curb for curbside pick-up regularly. When you are away from home for more than a couple of days, newspapers and mail can quickly pile up. Those who are observing your home may notice that your lawn is becoming overgrown and that your house is the only one on the street that did not have a trash can at the curb on trash collection day.
Asking your friends and neighbors who live close by to assist with these tasks can help you to give your home a lived-in look while you are away. You may ask one neighbor to perform all of these tasks, or you may ask several different neighbors to each help out with one item.
Keeping Your Trip Private
Finally, you should go to great lengths to keep your plans for your trip private. You may be so excited about going on your trip that you want to tell the world about it, but the fact is that you do not know who else may be listening when you talk about your trip.
For example, you may be sitting in a coffee shop talking about the dates of your trip to a friend, and the person sitting right behind you may be taking notes and may follow you home to see where you live. You should also monitor what you say on social media sites about your trip. It is best to announce the trip with photos and details after you return than to announce the trip as you are departing.
In addition, on your personal and business email accounts alike, you can create an auto-response stating that you will be away from your email for a few days, but avoid stating that you are on vacation or when you will return if possible.
While your home may be your personal oasis that you retreat to for rest and relaxation and where you make wonderful, lasting memories with your friends and family members, it also can be a dangerous place. Many people across the country and beyond unfortunately will get injured at home or even killed on their property through preventable events. By identifying some of the most common causes of unintentional household injuries and death, you can take steps to minimize these risks. One of the best steps that you can take to ensure that your home is the safest environment possible for you and your family to live in is to walk through this guide step by step to identify and correct risk factors in your home.