Archive for the 'Home Safety' Category

Jul 14 2011

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Electrical Safety: What is a GFCI? – The House Plan Shop

Filed under Home Safety

GFCI ReceptacleIf you are building a new house, you may have heard your builder, contractor or electrician mention a GFCI. Do you know what a GFCI is and why it is necessary it install them in your home?

 

A GFCI is a ground fault circuit interrupter. It is a device designed to protect people from electric shock and electrocution. This simple device constantly monitors the electricity flowing through an electrical circuit and will quickly switch off power to that circuit if any loss of current occurs.

 

GFCI receptacles are required by electrical code and standard in areas of the home where water may come into contact with products and appliances that require electricity to operate such as the toaster, hair dryer and power tools. The areas of the home where the use of GFCIs is standard include bathrooms, the kitchen, garage and basement.

 

If you are not sure if GFCIs are being used in the construction of your new home, find out immediately by checking with your builder, contractor or electrician. Make sure your home doesn’t become a fire hazard.

 

For more safety tips and advice about home safety, check out our Home Safety Blogs.

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Feb 23 2011

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The House Plan Shop: 6 Reasons to Use a Safe at Home

Home SafesMany people use a home safe to protect valuables from burglars. With home burglaries, burglars generally break into a home and leave within minutes taking all the items that are easily accessible like money, purses, jewelry, small electronics, wallets, guns, and anything else that is easy to “grab and go.” Many of the most commonly stolen items would be inaccessible to burglars if they were securely stored away in a home safe. But other than keeping your valuables safe from criminals, there are a number of other reasons to keep your things locked away in a home safe.

 

Below is a list of other good reasons to use a home safe:

 

1.    Safes are a great place to store prescription medications, especially when they are purchased in large quantities such as a three-month supply.

2.    They are a great place to store valuables and keep them out of the reach of children.

3.    Home safes provide a secure place to store important documents such as passports, health records, insurance policies, bank account information, etc.

4.    Some home safes are large enough to store guns allowing you to have access to your firearms without compromising the safety of the occupants of the home.

5.    Safes can protect important documents and valuables from fire and flooding.

6.    Wall safes offer reliable storage that can be hidden completely out of site.

 

Today’s home safes are available in a variety of models offering convenient entry systems that do not require keys. They come in a range of sizes allowing you to select the one that is right for your needs. With a home safe, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your valuables are securely stored in an easy-to-access place. Think of a home safe as a more convenient safe deposit box because you have 24-hour access.

 

Don’t let a potential burglary at your home become a crime of opportunity. Burglars usually take only the items that are left out in the open and easy to carry. Home safes help prevent “in-and-out” burglaries and deliver an all-purpose, secure containment solution for all your important belongings and documents.

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Jan 19 2011

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11 Bathroom Safety Tips – The House Plan Shop

House Plan 053H-0054 Masterbath PhotoDangers exist all around the home. Unless you have proper safety precautions in place, you, your family and your guests might be in danger. Besides the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in your home, and it is necessary to practice bathroom safety to ensure everyone’s well being. The bathroom safety tips listed below shouldn’t be ignored. Recognizing potential bathroom dangers and practicing bathroom safety will prevent accidents in your home. The House Plan Shop recommends reviewing the following 11 bathroom safety tips:

 

1.    Make sure all of your bathrooms have adequate lighting during the day and a nightlight to illuminate the room at night preventing trips, slips and falls.

2.    Electrical items in the bathroom can lead to deadly accidents. Do not plug in electrical items in an area where water is present including outlets near the sink, toilet, shower and bathtub. One wrong move could send your plugged-in electrical item into the water causing electrocution.

3.    Mop or dry up accumulated water on the floor or counter tops and inspect both surfaces after bathing, brushing teeth and washing hands. Puddles on the floor can cause someone to slip and fall. Standing water on the floor or counter top is cause for electrocution as mentioned in Tip 2.

4.    Use ground-fault circuit interrupters in areas where water is present. (This is a good idea in the kitchen too.)  An electrician can install them for you. They will prevent you from being shocked should electricity and water meet.

5.    Prevent burns by setting the water heater at or below 120 degrees F. Also, consider installing anti-scald faucets in sinks, bathtubs and showers.

6.    Use slip resistant mats in and around wet floors and in the bathtub and/or shower. Purchase mats with a non-slip backing to prevent slips and falls on the bathroom floor or when stepping in an out of the bathtub and shower.

7.    Consider installing grab bars near the toilet, shower and bathtub. They make it easier to stand after using the toilet and get in and out of the tub and shower safely particularly for seniors and disabled people. Do not use a soap dish, towel rack, or door knob as a grab bar.

8.    If small children are in the home, keep the toilet lid closed as well as the bathroom door. You might even want to install a lock on the outside of the bathroom door out of reach of small children and keep the bathroom locked at all times. It doesn’t take much water to drown a child. Children have been known to drown in no more than an inch of water and an open toilet is looming hazard to a curious child.

9.    Cleaning supplies should be kept out of reach of children. Most cleaners can be poisonous to children, so keep cleaning supplies under lock and key.   

10.  Likewise, do not keep medications in the medicine cabinet if there are children in the home. This includes prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Child-proof lids may deter a child in most cases, but a very determined child can still manage to get medicine bottles and containers open.

11.  Don’t forget about tweezers, manicure scissors, pointed nail files, nail polish remover, etc. Keep these items out of reach of children.

 

With a little common sense and these bathroom safety tips, you’ll be able to keep family and friends safe when using your bathroom.

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Jan 10 2011

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The House Plan Shop: Crash-Testing Residential Construction to Improve Strength and Safety

You’ve heard of the crash-test dummies used to test the safety of automobiles. Home insurance companies recently began using this concept to “crash-test” residential construction. The goal is to provide insight, feedback and concrete evidence about home construction that will help devise new disaster-proof construction practices for home building. Home insurance companies can sponsor a test chamber that simulates severe weather conditions and the effect they have on model houses. For example, tests can simulate Mother Nature’s harshest weather conditions by inflicting gale-force winds, torrential rains, hail, fire and debris. The chief engineer for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, Time Reinhold, says “This is an opportunity to create demand for better construction.” The IBHS lab is designed to subject model homes to simulated weather conditions typical of a Category 2 or Category 3 hurricane such as 140 mph winds produced by fans, hail created by freezing water in different size molds, fire produced by blazing embers (burning mulch hurled by fans), open gas lines and burning shrubs and trees, and rain with up to 8” per hour produced by sprinklers.

 

The IBHS’s test facility debuted in October of 2010 with two test homes side-by-side. One was built to typical building codes used in the Midwest. The other one incorporated structural reinforcements and more durable materials. The results were impressive with the reinforced home suffering only cosmetic damage while the standard-code home collapsed in minutes.

 

The results were clear. It is worth investing in reinforced construction when it comes to durability and safety. For more information about cost and additional details, review this “crash-test” article.

 

Source: Crash-Test Homes Show Value of Better Construction, by Clare Kaufman

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Jan 05 2011

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9 Important Garage Security Tips – The House Plan Shop

Filed under Home Safety,The Garage

053H-0021 House PlanHomeowners often forget about garage security. The garage is often overlooked when in fact, it is one of the most vulnerable parts of the home when security is considered. It is important to note the garage is an easy target for vandals and thieves. Whether you use your garage for parking the cars or for other things, chances are your garage holds valuable items from the cars and the riding mower to power tools and other expensive equipment and recreational items that may catch a burglar’s eye. Below are nine tips to help you keep your garage and everything inside of it safe and secure.

 

1.    Make a habit of locking garage doors and windows when you are not inside. Quality locks on doors and windows will deter potential break-ins.

2.    If your overhead garage door has an interior lock, lock the door from the inside whenever possible and especially at night. Criminals are getting smarter. Even with a quality garage door opener, criminals can still get inside your garage with little effort by rolling the door up. If the door has interior locks, use them.

3.    Check your garage door for damage and weak points. If you find any cracks in the door, broken window panes or loose panels, have them repaired immediately or replace the garage door. Any weak points in the door make it easy for criminals to pry it open.

4.    Deter criminals and thieves by using outdoor lighting. Burglars know most garages are unoccupied at night making it easy to break-in the garage and steal or damage items without being noticed. Install motion lights and landscape lighting to light up the garage, doorways and walkways at night. Also consider installing security cameras. These will make burglars think twice about breaking-in.

5.    Stolen garage door openers are becoming a growing problem. Keep your car doors locked at all times even when you are home. If you discover your garage door opener is missing or has been stolen from your car change the frequency and code for the garage door opener immediately.

6.    Do not leave your garage door cracked for ventilation. The slightest crack at the bottom of the garage door offers an opportunity for a criminal to break-in your garage.

7.    Only keep the garage door open when necessary. If it is not necessary, be sure the door is closed. An open garage door allows any passer-by to see just what you store inside your garage. If they see something valuable, they might come back and steal it at another time. In the same way, leaving the garage door open puts your belongings at risk to be vandalized. You never know when someone might come back later and ransack your garage or damage your new ski boat or the restored vehicle you keep inside.

8.     If your garage is attached to your home, lock the door between the garage and the living space of the house. This door is an entry point to the home for criminals and most homeowners don’t recognize the threat because it is considered an interior door. Protect yourself at this entry point with a sturdy door and quality locks.

9.    If you protect your home with a home security system, be sure the garage is included in the security system.

 

While garage security is often overlooked by homeowners, you can help protect yourself and the things in your garage with these handy tips from The House Plan Shop.

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