One of the most important conversations we may ever have is in regards to your home’s safety. When it comes to accidents and hazards, everyone knows they exist, but most don’t believe it can happen to them: until it does. These days, homes are built according to regulations to maximize safety across the board. As a homeowner, it is still your responsibility to make sure your home lives up to these standards on a consistent basis. Do you know what to look for? Here’s an overview.
When it comes to a safe home, there are a few target areas to keep tabs on. All of them should be inspected annually, at a minimum. We will look at: Electrical, heating and fire safety, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and protection from burglary.
Most of us aren’t electricians, and for a good reason. Electrical work can be very dangerous for someone who is not properly trained. While nearly everyone uses electricity on a daily basis, there are important safety guidelines you should be following. The first is to make sure you are not overloading your system. There is a maximum voltage that outlets are designed to maintain. A rule of thumb is to only have one high-wattage appliance in use per outlet. While you can use multiple smaller items such as lamps and alarm clocks, some appliances require a significant amount of energy. Additionally, at least once per year every outlet should be checked. Feel the surface of every outlet to check for warmth. If you feel heat coming form an outlet, it needs to be checked by an electrician. When using outlets, cords needs to be properly attended. Frayed, exposed, or loose wires on any electrical device can be hazardous. Cords also need a clear path to travel along, and should never be allowed to hide underneath rugs, or run through doors where they can be trampled. Electrical safety is extremely important. It can turn into a hazard to young children and pets, or a fire hazard.
In addition to electrical safety, your home heating system can become a fire hazard if ignored. The first step as a homeowner is to have your fireplace, chimney, and heating equipment inspected once a year by a professional. As the weather is beginning to change and the cold season is not far off, this is the time to have them checked. When it comes time to heat your home, whether you are using built-in heating, a space heater, or fireplace, always use caution and best safety practices. This includes never leaving anything to burn or heat while unattended, never allowing anything that can burn near a heating device, and only burning proper wood. All outside vents should be checked annually and after any snowstorm for obstructions that may lead to carbon monoxide buildup. Finally, water heaters need to be checked and never allowed to exceed 120 degrees.
Even with safe heating practices, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be checked regularly. Smoke alarms should be tested regularly and batteries changed yearly. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that is odorless, and can only be detected by a carbon monoxide detector. If you do not have one in your home already, go to your local hardware store and purchase one. A small amount of money can potentially save your family from a deadly leak. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher in it as well. Extinguishers come with schedules and instructions from the manufacturer, which should be followed to ensure it’s ready when you need it.
Another safety target for your home is protection against burglary. It is important to have a reliable security system installed in your home. In addition to this, there are other practical steps you can take. First, consider having a neighbor or friend that you trust have a house key rather than hiding one near your door. Thieves who intend to break in may already know where you hide a key, if you have one. It’s also important to know what you have on display. Your home’s address should be easily identifiable in case police or firemen ever need to arrive. Your name, however, should not. Have your house numbers on your home and on your mailbox, not your last name. If for some reason you cannot have a home security system installed, consider putting a sticker on your window anyway. Burglars may be deterred if they believe an alarm will sound upon entry. Finally, always have your home appear occupied. If you are not home, leave a light or radio on.
While this is not a complete or all-inclusive list, and accidents can happen no matter what your level of preparedness is, you can still take steps to increase your home’s safety. Some steps you can take on your own, for others it’s wise to call in a professional. If any of these need to be done, don’t hesitate to call! To find a professional for your home, visit us online at www.responsiblecontractors.com!