Last fall, all of us were inundated with news about hurricanes and wildfires. This winter, it has been nor’easters and erratic weather patterns. While these calamities received a lot of media attention, did you know in the United States there is a house fire every eighty-two seconds? That fire and inside water damage are the two biggest insurance claims, more so than the before mentioned Acts of God?
Here are the twelve biggest safety threats to your home and what to you can about them.
- No smoke detectors or missing or dead batteries.
Stated by the National Fire Prevention Association, 60% of all fire-related deaths occur in homes with either no alarms, detectors installed to faulty wiring or units that were installed incorrectly.Per today’s code, smoke alarms must be installed inside every bedroom and on every level of the home.
- If your home is in violation of the code, install more smoke detectors today.
- Remove and swap out devices more than ten years old. Consider adding a smart system that can alert your smartphone when an alarm triggers and remind you to change out dying batteries.
- Replace batteries twice a year; a good way to remember is when daylight savings time changes in the fall and the spring.
- No carbon monoxide detectors.
CO poisoning contributes to over 20,000 emergency room visits and 400 deaths per year.
Install CO monitors on every floor of your house and be sure they are at least fifteen feet from fuel-burning appliances.
- Cracked pipes.
A pipe that freezes and cracks can release over 250 gallons of water in one day.
- Insulate exposed pipes with form sleeves.
- Before winter hits, turn off the water supply to outside faucets and leave the taps open to alleviate internal pressure.
- Put a first-aid kit on the first floor and let people know where it is.
If you have overnight guests, babysitters or caregivers, let them know where the kit is located. Check it occasionally and replace things that are expired or supplies that are running low.
- Roof has runoff that goes beneath shingles due to wintertime warming trend.
This can shorten the life on your shingles, or even a hole in your roof if not addressed in a timely manner.
Add attic insulation and make sure there is outside ventilation to keep roof cool and intact for many years.
- Gutters get clogged, water pools around foundation and brings leaks to basement.
This can easily be remedied by cleaning your gutters twice a year.
- Gas grill has a leaky supply hose and it is too close to the house.
- Check your hose for cracks regularly and replace when it is worn.
- Keep the grill at least ten feet away from the house.
- Electrical wiring is faulty.
The three ways you can tell if your wiring is problematic are: 1) your home is experiencing frequent blown fuses 2) your lights flicker or 3) you experience a tingling feeling when touching a wall, switch or appliance. To remedy this, do the following:
- Replace old circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters.
- If your home is more than forty years old, replace all the electrical wiring.
- The above should only be done by a licensed electrician.
- Fireplace can have creosote buildup and/or embers can fly out of hearth.
- Get your chimney swept once a year, in the late fall.
- Keep your screen closed or use only very dry wood to prohibit wood popping and risk of falling embers.
- Leave your flue open until the fire has completely burned out.
Kitchen: Roughly 40% of Fires Start Here
- The stove is the number one culprit.
- Never leave burners unattended while they are in use, not even for a minute.
- Don’t place combustibles, like paper towels and pot holders, near the stove.
- Have a fire extinguisher and heavy blanket within reach. Have the extinguisher certified by the fire department annually.
Laundry Room: Roughly 40% of Fires Start Here
- The washing machine has an inlet hose that bursts, sending water all over your laundry room floor.
- Replace rubber hoses with braided steel ones.
- Check them twice a year for leaks and loose connections. Replace if leaking occurs and tighten up any wobbly hoses.
- The dryer has lint build up inside dryer cabinet next to heating element.
- Brush or vacuum out buildup around lint filter twice a year.
- Hire a professional to clean out cabinet every two years.
- Have a fire extinguisher and heavy blanket within reach. The extinguisher needs to be certified by the fire department annually.
- Do not run the dryer when you are not home.
Preparing and inspecting your appliances and home often can keep many problems at bay. Focus on all of these safety measures to avoid a fire or flood that could be just as devastating as a wildfire or hurricane – because it happened to you!
Brought to You by Gail Royster
As an experienced Hudson Ohio real estate broker, it is my job to ensure the homes that I list are as safe as possible. While it is my hope that the tips listed above are helpful, a credentialed home inspector can identify all safety hazards on your property.
Call/text me (330) 608-4647 for a free, in-home market analysis, and to recommend professional services for any of the above.