As a home inspector, I have the opportunity to look over houses. I assess the general condition and physical defects, but my main focus is the safety of a home. Many accidents and safety hazards can be prevented with a little bit of knowledge and application.
Today I am focusing on hazards such as fires and carbon monoxide and things you can do to keep your loved ones safe. As you’re reading, think about your home. If your home is lacking in protective measures, I’d encourage you to address the potential issues. Hopefully the security and safety measures will never have to be utilized, but they could save a life if you were ever in a hazardous situation.
A house fire can completely destroy your home within minutes. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there are around 358,500 house fires per year. Fire does not discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time. Keeping this in mind, it is extremely important to take appropriate precautions. Make sure you have smoke detectors in your home. Too often I see homes that have too few detectors or none at all. If your home does have smoke detectors, you need to test them regularly, every 3 months, and change the batteries every 6 months. Fire alarms can save lives, but if they’re not working, they will do you no good.
Fire extinguishers are a must have for fire suppression. One is better than none, but the more the merrier. Place a few fire extinguishers throughout your home in strategic places, especially in areas that are more likely to have a fire, such as the kitchen, garage, or laundry room. Fire spreads quickly, so the faster you can access a fire extinguisher, the better shape you’ll be in. There are a few different types of extinguishers, so make sure you do a little research and find out which kind is best for your application.
Carbon monoxide is terrifying because it does not smell, does not taste, and you cannot see it. It’s known as the silent killer, because you often don’t know it’s there until it’s too late. Carbon monoxide suffocates you comfortably. It displaces oxygen in the room until there is none left, and it makes you fall into an everlasting sleep. If you have any gas appliances in your home, you MUST have carbon monoxide detectors! Don’t allow yourself or your family to be a victim of something that is completely preventable. Go to any of your local hardware stores and pick one up today.
We often hear about people breaking into homes. Hopefully this never happens to you, but a little preparation can go a long way. Below are three ways you can be smart about the safety and security of your home from outside intruders.
First off, when you move into a new home, make sure you get all of your exterior locks rekeyed. There is no way of knowing how many people still have a copy of the key needed at access your home. Even if you have a new home I would still recommend you rekey your home just to be on the safe side. Second, make sure all of your locks work and you have a good backing plate on all of your deadbolts. If your home does not appear to have a reinforced deadbolt, this is something you can buy and install as your weekend project. You can find more information about this from The Family Handy Man in the article found HERE . And lastly, depending on where you live you may want to consider a home security system. With all of the technology available today they have become relatively affordable and easy to use. Security systems can be a very effective deterrent for intruders looking to break into your home, the loud alarm and lights could very well be enough to defuse the situation and send the bad guys running.
This topic can often be overlooked but is very important. If there was a life threatening emergency in your home, you want to make sure you and your loved ones have means of escaping, more than just the typical door exit. Check the operation of your windows and make sure that there is an egress window (a window big enough for an adult to crawl out of) in any room that is being used as a bedroom. If there are small children staying in those rooms, it is essential that you provide additional equipment, such as properly installed escape ladders, that will help them escape in the event of an emergency. If you have a guard over the window well of a basement bedroom to prevent people from falling in, make sure it is not so heavy that the children in the home can’t lift it to escape if needed. Make an exit plan and share it with your family so everyone will know what to do in the case of an emergency.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention a word about proper training. As you are making your home a safer place, there will be tools that you may not know how to properly use. A fire extinguisher is a good example, if you do not know how to use it please seek out the proper training. There is an enormous amount of information available via the internet. Take a little bit of time out of your day and learn how to use the safety items in your home that you are not familiar with. It wall pay off exponentially if you ever need to use them.
Here’s hoping for a safe and happy future in your home!