Practical Ways To Make Your Home Safer
Home Sweet Home is presented by The Washington State Housing Finance Commission
You fasten your seatbelt when you get in the car, and you wear oven mitts when you grab cookies out of the oven—so, what should you be doing as a homeowner to keep your house and family safe?
We’ve compiled a list of 10 simple home safety tips that can protect you and your family and give you peace of mind.
Check Your Detectors
Set a reminder to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month. All it takes is holding down the test button for a few seconds and listening for the alarm. If the alarm doesn’t sound or sounds weak, replace the batteries and test it again. If you have a large home, it’s a good idea to have another member of your family stand at a distance from the detector to ensure you’ll be able to hear it no matter where you are in the house.
In cold climates, being weather-ready means having ice melt (“salt”) tucked away for an icy day or being prepared to shovel as soon as it snows. These quick solutions prevent what could prove to be a painful fall.
If heavy rains are a weather issue in your area, make sure to prune dead branches away from the sides of the house. Clear gutters regularly to avoid costly leaks and the potential for mold.
Hang Fire Extinguishers
Ensure you have a fire extinguisher available in the most vulnerable areas: kitchen, garage, and next to the fireplace. It’s a good idea to have a 10-lb extinguisher in the garage and a 5-lb extinguisher in the kitchen. Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers? There are extinguishers for fires started by combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical issues – however, you can buy a combination extinguisher that can take on any of these types of fires.
We all rely on our indoor and outdoor handrails—especially if you have children and/or older family members living with you. It takes just a few minutes to ensure all screws and fasteners are secured to the walls, posts, and railings. Make a point to check their security every year as they can loosen again with heavy use.
Add Grip to Slippery Surfaces
Stairs and bathtubs are the biggest culprits for slips and falls in the home. It’s simple and cheap to add treads and bathtub mats to provide traction in these areas to prevent injury and add peace of mind. Keep in mind that if you use a rug for this purpose, it needs to have a rubber bottom to hold firmly to the floor underneath it.
It may seem simple, but even unplugging your toaster when it’s not in use makes your home that much safer. A quick power surge could overwhelm your small appliance and spark a fire in an instant – but if the appliance isn’t connected to the wall, it won’t be susceptible to the power surge.
This is especially important for households with small children, but falling furniture can hurt anyone! And it doesn’t have to be cheap, light furniture either – a sturdy bookcase or dresser can topple just as easily with the right leverage. Furniture anchors are often nylon or plastic straps that loop through pieces attached to both the furniture and the wall. They’re quick and easy to install and prevent accidents from turning into injuries.
Install Lighting in Dark Areas
If you have a particularly dim hallway or staircase, a light source can prevent everything from a stub of the toe to a more serious slip on stray clutter. You might choose to add a lamp in the corner or attach a motion-sensing LED puck to the ceiling. Your local hardware store will have multiple options for you to choose from.
Clean Your Dryer Vent
Did you know that lint trapped in your dryer vent can cause a fire? Cleaning your vent at least once a year can help prevent this issue. Simply unplug your dryer, disconnect the duct, and vacuum and brush out the vent and duct.
Lock Away Cleaners, Paints, and Medicines
Again, this tip may seem the most obvious for families with small children, but even adults can absentmindedly mistake one medication for another or assume cleaner in an unmarked bottle is something it’s not. If all your cleaners, paints, and medicines are locked away, you and your family will be intentional about using them.
Make these safety checks part of your routine and spend an afternoon updating your house to promote the highest safety standards. They’re some of the simplest ways to protect the ones you love the most!
Home Sweet Home is brought to you by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Homeowners Assistance Fund helps homeowners who have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic. Call 1-877-894-4663 for more information on how they can help.