Home Safety – Avoid Disaster

While your home might seem like the safest place in the world, it is still important to protect yourself and your family against disasters that might happen inside it. Creating a safe environment for your family should be one of every homeowners’ priorities, so here are some tips on how to keep a home secure:

Fire safetyFire safety

Fires are one of the most disastrous things that can happen to your home. It can start so suddenly and spread so quickly, endangering your assets and your families’ lives. Fires can be caused by different things, but here are simple guidelines on how to prevent them and how to lessen damage if ever it breaks out.

  • Install smoke detectors and fire alarms. It’s best to install smoke detectors at least on each floor of your home and a central fire alarm with a long-lasting battery, like those lasting up to ten years.
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your house. Put them in a place where it can be easily accessed, and make sure everyone in your household knows how to use it. It is recommended that you pick a multi-purpose fire extinguisher and keep it in the kitchen since this is the most fire-prone place in the home.
  • Plan a fire exit and keep it clear and unobstructed at all times. Make sure your household knows the escape route.
  • Do not overload extension cords and electrical outlets.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Keep an eye on open fires on the fireplace and heaters, especially if you have children around. It’s better to cover the fireplace with a large metal frame.
  • Keep lit candles, incense or other portable lighting and heating materials away from wood and loose cloth like blankets and drapes. Also, place them only on places out of reach of young children and pets.
  • Keep flammable/inflammable substances (such as gasoline, paint thinners, varnishes, etc.) away from fire sources such as the fireplace. Store them away and out of reach of children and pets. In addition, do not smoke around or while using these substances.
  • Never leave a fire- or heat-inducing appliance unattended. When cooking, keep an eye on any stove or cooker you are using, and never leave it on for periods longer than normal. Always unplug items like clothes iron and hair straightener after using.
  • Make sure fire- and heat-inducing appliances are not blocked and given enough space as breathing room. Don’t let them overheat. Avoid draping some curtains, toys or other items over them.
  • Choose fire-resistant materials, especially in flooring, walls, and ceilings. You can also apply intumescent paints for your home’s exterior and interior walls – it helps in slowing down the spread of fire, preventing them from completely damaging your home’s structure.
  • Don’t dry clothes near a fire.
  • Avoid smoking inside the house.

Electrical safety

Electricity has caused many accidents and fatalities already. While many wirings, appliances, and devices are safer now, you still have to be careful with handling those to avoid electrical shock, fires and electrocution. Here are some practical reminders:

  • Avoid using appliances with damaged flexes. If an appliance is not working properly anymore, discontinue use and have it checked and repaired, if needed.
  • Look for the CE mark when buying electrical appliances and equipment. Also, buy only from trusted merchants and brands as much as possible to avoid substandard devices.
  • Follow appliances’ instructions for use carefully.
  • Keep electrical appliances, especially the power cords from water and sources of water such as sinks, tubs, pools or dripping vents.
  • Before using old appliances, check cords for signs of wear, cracks or frays.
  • Use cords only for their intended purpose. Never use them to serve as a dog’s leash, a clothesline or a jumping rope.
  • Keep your hands dry when operating electrical devices, especially when plugging a cord. Don’t also operate them while standing in water. This would prevent electrical shock from happening.
  • Unplug cords from the outlet; avoid tugging on the cord itself.
  • If you are not a trained electrician or expert, it’s best if you would avoid trying to repair or upgrade your electrical devices and appliances.
  • The use of extension cords should be as minimal as possible. Also, use proper cords labeled appropriate for outdoor use when you need to use it outside – not all extension cords are safe for that.
  • Never overload outlets and extension cords. Plugging too many electrical devices or items like chargers on one outlet might overload a circuit, which might cause an electrical fire.
  • Have a ground fault circuit interrupter, or residual current device, installed in wet or damp locations such as pools, bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas.
  • Keep the outlets covered with plates. Never let wirings on the outlet remain exposed, like for instance, after having it repaired.
  • For lighting fixtures, choose only those bulbs with matching wattage requirements.
  • Before changing light bulbs, make sure to turn off or unplug the fixture first. Screw them tightly in place, because leaving them loose may cause sparks or short circuits.

Plumbing safety

Perhaps, all of us might have experienced plumbing problems in the home like dripping faucets, running toilets, clogged drains and all that. Learn how to prevent these by keeping these in mind:

  • Always install the highest quality plumbing materials you can afford. Cheap faucets, toilets, pipes and the like are most often substandard and are prone to leaks and malfunctions even after just a few months of buying.
  • Know where and how to shut off the water valve so you can turn them off in case of an emergency.
  • Never let grease or hair down the drain. Use sink mesh for preventing hair, grease or food scraps from clogging your shower drain.
  • Prevent kitchen and bathroom clogs by periodically flushing the drain with boiling water to melt away any grease, soap, and food particle accumulations on the drain and pipe walls. It would help in clearing slow drains, and also aid in cleaning it up.
  • Never flush your hygienic products (such as sanitary napkins) and any other things in your toilet.
  • Drippy faucets are wasteful on water. Dripping indicates leaks, so you should have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
  • For drains you are not using a lot, keep it from drying out by pouring a pail of water once in a while. This will help prevent sewer gas from entering the house.
  • Do not ignore funky smells coming from the drains. More often than not, it indicates a blockage. If you’re smelling gas, there could be a leak; immediately call your local plumbing or gas company.
  • If you are capable of plumbing repairs, do it alongside somebody to help you in turning off the water in case a leak breaks out.
  • Do not use tools on jobs it is not meant to do. You might end up becoming hurt or you might break the tool, or worse, creating more damage than what was originally there.
  • Wear protective goggles whenever you’re drilling, sawing, filing down a pipe or snaking the drain, to prevent anything from flying up to your eyes. Protect your hands too with latex gloves, especially when dealing with chemicals.
  • Always check out leaks on the faucets, hoses, and toilet. These need immediate repairs. If you are a DIYer in this area, then good for you. If not, call a plumber.
  • If you are not sure how to do plumbing repairs or installing fixtures, don’t risk yourself in attempting to fix them and instead leave the job to the experts. One wrong move could lead to another set of problems.

Kitchen safety

The kitchen is where most home accidents occur, especially fires and injuries. Ensure safety with these tips:

  • Never leave sharp objects like knives as well as tools and utensils lying around, unattended and misplaced.
  • Electrical cords of kitchen appliances on the countertop should not be draped across or under each other.
  • Always follow your appliances’ and devices’ instructions for use.
  • Gas flames are normally blue. If a gas flame turns into orange, this might be an indication of carbon monoxide build-up. Have the cooking device checked immediately.
  • If there is a gas leak, turn off the gas tank and open the windows to prevent suffocation. Call your gas supplier.
  • Take extra care with hot and boiling water to avoid burns.
  • To prevent burns while cooking on pots, use the back burners as much as possible. This will make it difficult for kids to touch it accidentally.
  • Keep an eye on what you’re cooking or heating. If it’s okay to leave it for a while and if you have to, quickly attend to it when the timer signals (if the appliance has one) or set a timer for yourself to avoid kitchen disasters. Always be mindful whenever you are cooking or heating something.
  • Store your products and items strategically. Store frequently used items within easy-to-reach shelves, while those you use sparingly can be stored on upper shelves. Do not store heavy items on high shelves.
  • While cooking, keep the pan handles turned inward to prevent accidentally knocking it over.
  • Always keep an eye on young children and the elderly whenever you are using appliances and devices that make use of fire and heaters.
  • Keep the dishwasher latched at all times to keep it from accidentally being opened. When it goes at the end of a cycle, it might cause burns from steams when opened accidentally.
  • Put on some stove knob covers, especially when you have little kids. It will prevent them from trying to turn on the burners, and it also helps even grownups from accidentally knocking it over and creating a fire.

Bedroom safety

Bedrooms might seem to be the safest and the most comfortable part of the home, but there are also hazards and dangers that can happen.

  • Don’t smoke on the bedroom, especially when you’re on the bed. The most number of fires that started in the bedroom are caused by cigarette dropping on the blankets, mattresses, and carpets, where it burns until a fire starts.
  • Choose fire-resistant mattress covers.
  • Put everything away from a source of fire or heat. Beddings, rugs, drapes, and curtains must be at least three feet away from space heaters.
  • Avoid putting a fabric material over a lampshade and keep it away from curtains and drapes.
  • When using candles, blow them out before going to sleep.
  • Keep your phone and flashlight within reach during bedtime. If your security is threatened, also keep a weapon near you. You are most vulnerable whenever you are sleeping, so keep them handy in case an intruder, burglar or any dangerous people breaking into your home.

If you have babies, toddlers and elderly people with disabilities living with you, here are more bedroom safety tips:

  • Keep the bedroom door clear from any obstruction.
  • Always keep away toys after use to prevent falls from accidentally stepping on them.
  • Provide a nightlight or a bedside lamp for those who are prone to get up during the night.
  • Put up safety rails to the walls and bedframe of seniors or people with walking or cognitive disabilities.
  • Ensure the stability and strength of cribs. Make sure you would purchase or use those that are at par with the current safety standards.
  • Keep heavy blankets and large stuffed animals out of the crib. Also, keep the crib away from curtains and blinds.
  • If your child is already trying to climb out of a crib, it’s time to get rid of the crib altogether and move him or her to a bed.

Bathroom safety

Bathroom safety is a concern, mainly because people can slip, trip and fall inside a bathroom, causing minor to serious injuries. Here are some tips to avoid bathroom accidents:

  • Make sure surfaces are non-slip. Choose only skid-proof materials for floor, tubs, and walls.
  • Put on non-slip strips, mats or tiles in your shower area or tub to avoid falls, especially if you have young children and seniors around.
  • Secure rugs on the bathroom by using non-slip stickers. However, it’s better to place them at the doorstep outside the bathroom since the surface is always dry there, or ditch rugs altogether.
  • Keep tubs and bathroom floors clean to remove molds and soap scums, which are slippery.
  • Provide adequate lighting to prevent accidents in the dark.
  • Choose a shower with a handheld or adjustable head so that you can minimize movement while showering and just move it anywhere you want it.
  • Set your hot water tank or shower heater only to reasonable temperature ranges to avoid scalds and burns.
  • Make sure that your cabinets, racks, and shelves are securely attached and tightly installed.
  • Keep electrical appliances such as curling iron, electric razor, and hair dryer away from sources of water to avoid electrocution. Always store them in cabinets or high shelves.
  • Store razors and other grooming tools like nail pushers and cuticle scissors on your bathroom shelves away from the reach of small children.

Garage safety

Since the garage is home to your car/s, as well as some of your useful and valuable stuff, you have to make sure it is safe.

  • Make sure you have a safe and secure garage door that also works properly. It’s preferable to install a smart garage door opener.
  • Keep your space neat and organized. Avoid putting too much stuff near the driveway.
  • Keep garage tools in proper storage places, especially those that are sharp and heavy.
  • Put away toxic substances like paint and rat poison in safe storage locations. Keep it out of reach of children and pets.
  • Before using chemicals and flammable liquids, be careful and follow instructions. When storing them after use, keep them away out of reach of children and pets.

Safety against intruders

More than home hazards, most homeowners are wary about outsiders who may steal valuables or worse, may do harm to your loved ones.

  • Install a good and reliable home security system. There are affordable alarm systems in Toronto area. It’s better if it can be concealed.. If you have a faulty alarm, get it fixed immediately.
  • Get yourself a guard dog. They are natural alarm systems that bark whenever you have an unexpected “guest.”
  • Whenever someone knocks or rings your doorbell, always check through a peephole or window first before opening the door.
  • If somebody comes to your door claiming they are from the police or the government, always ask for identification.
  • Make sure that your lock and alarm systems are working properly.
  • Keep your doors closed even if you are around. Never leave your garage doors open even when you are at home.
  • Store your valuables such as cash, jewelry and important documents in a safe or in a good hiding spot. One good spot would be your children’s room. Just make sure it’s out of reach of children. Most burglars tend to search the master’s bedroom, thinking that valuables are always there.
  • Don’t announce – whether on social media or during a real conversation – that you are leaving home for vacation. Burglars targeting your home might take advantage of your absence and try to enter your home.

Speaking of leaving home, here are more tips to prevent burglary, trespassing, and other unwanted home situations while you are away:

  • Obviously, you need to lock up. Before leaving, make sure that all windows and doors are locked.
  • If you need to leave keys for other members of your household or for a serviceman, don’t keep them under the doormat or in a flower pot – these are the expected places to hide keys. Hide your keys in a secret place that only you and your family members know.
  • Pull the plug on most devices like the computer, the charger connected to gadgets, washing machine – especially those appliances on the kitchen. This will not only save energy but will also help prevent any fire breakouts, power surges causing malfunction or even explosions.
  • Don’t leave notes on the door or on the porch for some other family members, neighbors, maid, handyman or whoever. Just text, call or leave them a personal message. Leaving notes outside your home is like announcing to everyone who would see that “Hey, there is nobody here!”
  • Lower your telephone’s ringing volume before vacationing. The incessant ringing of the telephone or the message you left on your voicemail would signal that nobody is home.
  • Make an illusion that someone is home. You may leave a stereo and/or exterior lights on. If you have a smart home, this would be easier – you may leave interior and exterior lights on and turn them off anytime you like by controlling from your smartphone or by using a timer.
  • When leaving for a longer period of time, don’t cancel your mail delivery. People targeting your home might pick up on that. Just entrust deliveries to a friend or a trusted neighbor.

Safety for children and pets

To avoid the many mishaps that may happen to your innocent little children and pets, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Never leave children unattended whenever they are near water or fire. Always keep your eyes on them when taking them to swim or to bathe.
  • Keep these things out of their reach: chemicals, cleaning products, personal products, medicine, fragile items, choking hazards, heavy objects, and sharp tools.
  • Secure your furniture. There are instances wherein children died because a heavy drawer or shelf fell down on them and they were not rescued immediately.
  • When there are infants, keep beds and cribs comfortable, but as bare as possible. Too many pillows and blankets might cause suffocation if they accidentally fell down on the baby’s face.
  • Lock away from old refrigerators, car trunks, vaults or any other places where children could get themselves locked in to prevent suffocation.
  • Only choose safe toys for your child by picking those appropriate for their age and by checking what chemicals can be found on them. Too much exposure to lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are dangerous for your kids.