Archive for the 'Home Safety' Category

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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Dec 07 2010

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The House Plan Shop: 5 Holiday Safety Tips

Step StoolThe holidays are approaching quickly and it is easy to get caught up in the festivities of the season, but this is no time to let your guard down when it comes to following safe practices. The House Plan Shop has five holiday safety tips for you to review. Keep them in mind this holiday season.

 

1.    Practice Fire Safety – Most residential fires occur during the winter months and with extra activities to attend and plenty of family and friends stopping by to visit, it is easy to forget about fire safety. If you burn candles in your home, keep them away from holiday trees, curtains, blankets, and walking paths such as the hallway and other high traffic areas. Most importantly keep them out of reach of children and pets. Do not leave fireplaces, space heaters, candles and stoves unattended. Do not use grills, generators or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, including the garage and basement. Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

2.    Prevent Injuries – Injuries can occur anywhere at any time including during the holidays. Use a step stool instead of furniture when hanging holiday decorations. Make sure your ladder is secure before climbing to the rooftop to hang holiday lights. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

3.    Keep an Eye on the Kids – With so much happening during the holidays, it is easy to get caught up in a conversation with Aunt Jane whom you haven’t seen since last year or have fun participating in the events at a holiday party. But remember if the kids are with you, you must keep a watchful eye. Whether they are eating, playing or watching a movie with their cousins in the other room, you should know what your kids are doing at all times. Keep potentially dangerous items such as toys, food, drinks and other hazardous household items out of reach. Make sure toys and game pieces are used properly. If your kids have any food allergies, make sure to check out all food items and drinks that are served at any holiday gathering you attend and help your child make healthy decisions about what to eat.

4.    Practice Travel Safety – Whether your holiday travels take you across town or completely across the country, practice safe travel habits. Do not drink and drive. Always buckle up. Make sure your child is properly fastened in his/her car seat, booster seat or just buckled in properly according to child safety laws. Also, make sure your car is in good working order and be prepared for inclement weather.

5.    Be Healthy – The holidays can make it hard to follow your normal daily routine, so make sure you continue to practice good habits for your health. Wash hands often. Dress warm in cold climates and stay dry. Cook foods to their proper temperatures. Make sure to schedule some down time in your busy schedule to relax and regroup. Most importantly make sure the whole family gets plenty of rest.

 

These simple tips will help ensure you and your family will enjoy a safe holiday season.

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Dec 01 2010

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The House Plan Shop: 7 Tips for Protecting your Home During the Holidays

020H-0003 House PlanWith the holidays quickly approaching, our focus turns toward celebrating the joys of the season making it easy to forget the holiday season is also a time or opportunity for potential burglars. So, while you are preparing for upcoming dinner parties and holiday gatherings, don’t forget to take time to protect your home. According to a retired veteran of the police force many people let their guard down during the holiday season thinking crime won’t happen to them. In reality, all of us are at risk.

 

So what can you do to protect your home? Below are seven tips to help protect your home and belongings during the holiday season.

 

1.    Get in the habit of changing your view on safety every year when you start changing your everyday home décor to holiday themes. And better still, modesty and simplicity is the best policy. Expensive holiday decorations and elaborate holiday light displays can signal to criminals there may be valuables inside your home making it worth the criminal’s time to break-in. Furthermore, leaving wrapped gifts under the tree in full view from exterior windows and doors make a welcome invitation for thieves. Instead of placing packages under the tree, keep them tucked away in closets and attics out of sight until the last minute. This is one of the easiest safety precautions to follow.

2.    Keep your home well-lit and well-groomed inside and out. Not only will your home look nice from the street but it is an important safety measure. The more lighting you have in your home and yard, the less places for criminals and thieves to lurk and hide. In addition, tree branches should be trimmed up at least six feet off the ground and shrubs and bushes trimmed down to no more than three feet tall. This allows a clear view of your yard from inside the house and from the street minimizing places for burglars and thieves to hide.

3.    Whether you are at home or out on a quick trip to the grocery store, keep all windows and doors locked including the garage door and the service door between the garage and the home. Burglars know the holiday season is an opportune time for breaking-in as many homes have extra valuables inside not to mention extra cash on hand.

4.    If you plan on traveling for the holidays take advantage of a home security system if possible. If you already have one, you’re in good shape. If you don’t have a home security system, consider installing one. It is a worthwhile investment. If you cannot afford a security system, set your lights and TVs on timers. Have them turn on and off in various parts of the home throughout the day and evening. Ask a trusted neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally to give the appearance that someone is coming and going from your home. Also ask a neighbor to collect the mail and newspapers or stop these services during the time you will be traveling. Notify your local police department and them know the dates you’ll be gone. Ask them to drive past your house occasionally. If you decide have a neighbor park in your driveway, identify the vehicle to the police.

5.    If you are traveling during the holiday season, only mention your trip to those who absolutely must know you’ll be gone. Likewise, do not post this information via social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t take much legwork for potential burglars to identify you and figure out your address.

6.    In a similar manner, do not mention valuable gifts using social media. A post like, “Got a 52-inch flat screen,” becomes common knowledge instantly. If a criminal is watching your house, the minute you leave to go to work, the post office or a holiday party, your new flat screen is as good as gone.

7.    And for those who don’t use social media, don’t be so sure the public doesn’t know about your 52-inch flat screen. As soon as you put the empty box next to the trash can at the curb, the whole neighborhood will know what is inside your house. Be cautious when throwing away packaging from “big ticket” items. Burglars know what to look for. If they notice any packaging from valuable items with your curbside trash, you are inviting them inside. Instead of throwing away the whole box, break the box down. Cut it up in smaller pieces and dispose of it a little bit at a time as not to draw attention to it. If you can, recycle a few pieces of the box each week instead of throwing it away.   

 

While you may be looking forward to celebrating the holiday season, The House Plan Shop recommends you add these home safety precautions to your holiday “to-do” list.

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Oct 06 2010

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The House Plan Shop: 5 Fire Safety Tips for Fire Prevention Week

Fire ExtinguisherThis week is fire prevention week. The House Plan Shop has some safety tips to share with you helping to protect you, your family, your home and your pets from potential. Be smart and follow fire prevention practices.

 

1.    Install and Maintain Smoke Detectors: Smoke detectors are an important tool in helping save lives in home fires. Install them on every floor of your home and right outside the sleeping areas. Install the smoke detectors according to the manufacturer’s directions and test them on a weekly basis. Batteries should be replaced two times a year. A good rule of thumb is to replace batteries when daylight savings time begins and ends (each time you set your clocks back or forward one hour.) Also replace batteries when the smoke detector chirps signaling the battery is dead. Never remove batteries from the detectors or disconnect them.

2.    Create an Escape Plan for Your Family and Practice: When a fire breaks out in your home it is necessary to get out fast. Spend time with the entire family planning two ways to get out of every room in the event of a home fire. Decide on a meeting place outside of the home whether it is a neighbor’s driveway or the bus stop on the corner and instruct the entire family to meet at the designated place should a home fire occur. Once you are out of the house, DO NOT go back inside. Practice your escape plan with the whole family at least twice a year.

3.    Get a Fire Extinguisher and Know How to Use It: Purchase a fire extinguisher for home use and learn how to use it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Sometimes, in the event of a small fire, having and using a fire extinguisher can make a huge difference in saving your home and belongings until the fire department arrives. (Note: Do not expect a fire extinguisher to put out large house fires. Instead, exit the building immediately and wait for the fire department.) If you have a large house with multiple levels, you might consider having a fire extinguisher on each level. Put it/them in places that are easy to access but out of reach of small children.

4.    Know and Practice the STOP, DROP and ROLL Rule: This is a simple rule even small children can learn. If your clothes or body catch on fire, do not run. Stop where you are, drop to the floor and roll over and over to smother the flames. Cover your face with your hands to protect it and help prevent smoke inhalation or lung damage.  

5.    Crawl Low Below Smoke: If you should encounter smoke using your primary exit route in the event of a fire, use your alternate route instead. If you must move through smoke to exit, get down on your hands and knees and crawl to the exit. Clean air will be several inches off the floor. 

Following these fire safety practices will increase your chances of escaping death or injury in a fire. Look for more information about fire safety and prevention in another upcoming blog.

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