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Home Safety Indoors and Out

You have built the home of your dreams and plan to enjoy it, but you'll have to do your part to enjoy continued happiness in your new home. Your new house includes all the features for comfort and functionality that you have always wanted. Now, it is up to you to keep it safe and comfortable. There may be hidden dangers in any home, but a little planning ahead and logical thinking will put your mind at ease.

Child Proofing Your Home

Anyone living with small children will agree without hesitation that it is nearly impossible to have a home that is 100% child proof, but there are several things that you can do to make your home a safer place for children to live.

  • Use safety latches and knobs on cabinets and doors that are not safe for children to open such as lower level kitchen cabinets, kitchen drawers containing knives or scissors, basement doors, cleaning supply closet doors, back yard gates, and gates for fenced areas such as a pool.
  • Remember to use the top shelf. Keep hazardous and poisonous materials out of the reach of children. If you have storage shelves in your garage or basement, place items such as paint cans, lighter fluid and cleaning supplies on the top shelf. The higher, the better, if children cannot see it, they will not reach for it.
  • Prevent choking by keeping unnecessary cords out of sight and out of reach. For instance, shorten cords on mini-blinds so children cannot reach them when they hang down and run cords for lamps and computers under couches or desks so children cannot get to them.
  • Prevent fire and electrical hazards. Cover electrical outlets, keep matches out of reach and use a stove guard preventing children from touching a hot stove. When you use these things, make a habit of reminding your children not to use or touch them. Remind children these items are for adults only.
  • Put tools and small appliances away when you are not using them. When your children are older, teach them how to use them properly.
  • Use child safety gates in hallways and near stairs that are dangerous for children.
  • Install temperature controls on all faucets to prevent scalding.
  • Properly install railings on decks and porches to prevent accidental falls.
  • Use corner guards on sharp corners such as brick fireplaces and coffee tables to prevent to head injuries from accidental falls.
  • Consider fencing your yard providing a safe area for your children to play outdoors.
  • Supervise your children as often as possible. When child safety is concerned, there is no substitute for good supervision. 

Preventing House Fires

There is no doubt that a residential fire can be one of the most costly, destructive and devastating disasters to your home. Residential fires are commonly caused by either a heat or electrical source. There are many tips that will help prevent a house fire and still others to help you prepare in case such a disastrous event occurs.

  • Store and keep combustible materials away from fireplaces, water heaters, stoves, furnaces and other appliances. Also, be sure to install these items in well-ventilated areas.
  • Install grounded electrical outlets and remember to use GFIs in areas near water such as, bathrooms, kitchens and the outdoors.
  • Be sure power sources are adequate for appliances to run efficiently.
  • Label each circuit breaker noting which area of the house it serves. Learn how to switch the breaker in case of an emergency.
  • Install fire and smoke detectors on each floor of the house near the living areas and in each bedroom. Change the batteries on a regular basis.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it effectively. Make sure everyone in the home knows where it is located.
  • Avoid using extension cords whenever possible.
  • Develop an escape plan and practice with your family.
  • Purchase and install escape ladders for all second floor exits.
  • Learn how to shut off gas and electrical sources. Also, practice closing dampers on wood burning stoves and fireplaces.

Protecting Against Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas responsible for a fair number of illnesses and deaths each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. These simple tips will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and replace the batteries on a regular basis.
  • Hire a professional annually to check fuel-burning appliances and ensure they are functioning properly. These include your gas stove, water heater, furnace and fireplace. Gas grills on covered patios and porches should be checked as well.
  • Allow fresh air to flow throughout your home as often as possible. This can easily be regulated by turning on a ceiling or attic fan or just by opening windows.
  • Contact your local poison control center for more information.

Testing for Radon

Radon is a toxic, colorless gas. Soil and rock under a home, well water and some building materials can be sources of radon. It is important to have your building site tested for radon and fixed by a professional before you begin building. Contact your local poison control center for more information.

Pest Control

Most of us have experienced an occasional spider in our homes, but there is a lot you can do as a homeowner to protect your new home against any unwanted pests.

  • Clean up your lot. Remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, yard waste, etc., around your home. They create perfect places for pests to live including rodents and snakes.
  • Have your lot pre-treated for termites. Call a pest control specialist to do a chemical soil treatment.
  • Eliminate any wood-to-foundation contact, and when landscaping, remember to keep mulch from touching the siding of your home. Both of these create an expressway for termites to enter.
  • Store firewood away from your home. If the termites find your wood at least they will not find your house too.
  • Check for cracks in your home's exterior. Seal or repair them to help keep pests like ants and spiders from getting inside.
  • Be sure all doors and windows are properly sealed with tight-fitting screens and weather stripping preventing unwanted critters from entering your home. Do not leave doors propped open.
  • Be sure the attic and crawlspace are properly and sufficiently ventilated. Proper ventilation creates an unsuitable home for cockroaches and other pests forcing them to move elsewhere.
  • Have your home checked for termites and sprayed for pests annually.

Home Security

You have good information to protect your family against may home hazards and accidents. Now, it is time to consider protecting your home against intruders. The most valuable protection you can have is a home security system. These systems protect your home around the clock while you are home and away. There are a variety of security systems available, so determine your needs and shop around for the best deal. Security systems can be complex or simple consisting of any combination of elements such as motion detectors, contact points at windows and/or doors, siren, lights and keypads. Typically, the security system will signal a monitoring service that will contact and send law enforcement officials to your home. There are also home security systems available for medical emergencies. In some instances it is as simple as pressing a specific button on the keypad to call for medical attention. The monitoring service will send a paramedic to your house. In the event of any type of emergency, a security system will allow you to call for help or send help as quickly as possible whether you are home or not.

Your home is brand new. It seems silly to have to worry about protecting it and your family while inside. Most of us would rather be thinking about decorating, color schemes, installing a sound system in the media room or landscaping. In all matter-of-factness, if you want to enjoy all of those things for a long time, you need to think about home safety indoors and out right now. Spend as much time making your home safe as you did to shop for your home plan.

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