Home safety is something that may not be in the forefront of your mind, but it should be. Statistically, more accidents and injuries occur in the home than in any other place you might be, not including moving vehicles.
We know that you want your home to be a safe and peaceful place. So, we’ve put together a list of 13 home safety tips that you might be forgetting.
1. Store Prescriptions Safely
Keep all prescription and nonprescription drugs stored safely in a secure area. Even if you don’t have children in the home, it’s good to keep an eye on your controlled substances. Random folks who are in and out of your home ― home inspectors, cleaning crews, laborers and so on ― could be looking for pills to swipe or prescription bottles to refill.
Make sure you know which prescription medications you have on hand and how much is in each bottle. When you are finished taking a particular medication, dispose of the bottles or any leftovers properly. Most hospitals and pharmacies will gladly accept your medications and discard them responsibly with their other biohazards and medical waste.
2. Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy
Do you have an oven, stove or cooktop in your kitchen? If the answer is yes, you also need a fire extinguisher. According to the United States Fire Administration, more than half of all residential building fires are started while cooking.
Sharon is taking care of her two children and working on dinner for the family. Just after she begins to heat the oil to pan-fry some vegetables, one of the kids calls for help with his homework in the next room. Sharon anticipates the problem will only take a few seconds, so she leaves the pan to continue heating. Several minutes later, Sharon and her son are knee-deep in algebra when they smell something burning. Sharon bolts into the kitchen to see the pan of oil ablaze on the stove, threatening to ignite her chocolate cake recipe taped to the upper cabinet:
- Ending number 1: Sharon grabs the fire extinguisher from the kitchen wall, pulls the pin and sprays to eliminate any flames effectively. Crisis averted, the family goes back to algebra and dinner prep.
- Ending number 2: Sharon frantically searches the kitchen drawer to find baking soda, or is it flour that helps smother a grease fire? Meanwhile, the chocolate cake recipe catches fire, causing flames to also ignite all of the notes along the side of the refrigerator. The upper cabinet is black and beginning to burn. In over her head, Sharon calls 911 as she and the kids exit the front door.
A fire extinguisher in your home can mean the difference between a nonissue pan blaze and a full-on house fire. At the very least, employ one fire extinguisher in the kitchen. If you have a fireplace, also keep an extinguisher within a few feet of it. For best results, keep another extinguisher on every additional floor of your home.
3. Do You Have a Second-level Escape Route?
Let’s pretend an intruder is coming up your stairs, or a fire has blocked the stairway. How are you going to get out of the home safely? You can try your luck and jump from the window, hoping to break only a few bones in the process. Or, you can spend about $30 and purchase a window fire escape ladder to keep on the second story of your home. These useful escape ladders are available online and in local large-scale retail stores. When folded, these handy, retractable escape ladders can be stored easily under a bed or in a drawer near your bedroom window.
4. Store Your Firearms Responsibly
Owning firearms comes with a huge amount of responsibility. Even if you live alone and you’re an expert sharpshooter, keep those firearms in a locked safe. Thieves break into homes specifically looking for guns to steal. Choose a sturdy, secure safe for your weapons to keep them secure and accessible only to you and those you authorize. A biometric safe is particularly useful and secure as it requires your fingerprints to open.
5. Keep Your Smoke Alarms Connected and Operational
If you’ve got a particularly sensitive smoke alarm that seems to start screeching every time you bake something, it might be tempting to disconnect it. However, smoke alarms save lives. According to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, “Over 60 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms.”
If your smoke alarm is a nuisance, it may need a good cleaning. You can also replace it with another model or reposition it until it no longer goes off unnecessarily. The important thing is that your smoke alarms are connected, and the batteries are refreshed regularly.
6. Designate a Meeting Place
If there is more than one person residing in your household, the designation of a common meeting place is essential. During any type of emergency situation, there should be a place that all of you can go to reconnect with each other. My kids are small, so our meeting place is the driveway of our neighbor’s house, which is across the street from our home. Every now and then, I ask my children to tell me the location of our meeting place as a refresher. That way, none of us will forget easily.
(Image credit: American Association of Poison Control Centers)
7. Post the number for Poison Control
When someone ingests poison, you’ve got a small amount of precious time to get help. Having the phone number for poison control posted in a prominent spot and saved in your phone is extremely important.
Take a moment to save the number in your phone right now. It is 800-222-1222 in the U.S. If you’re outside of the U.S., search online for the correct local poison control number to call and save it in your contact list. It’s also wise to boldly write it out and post it on the refrigerator or another prominent location in the home.
8. Use This Simple Trick to Secure Your Door
On your front door frame, there is a small metal plate where the latch from the deadbolt is secured into the frame when it’s locked. Sadly, most of the time, these strike plates are flimsy and installed with two short screws. One good kick and your door is busted open.
You can bolster the security of your front door easily by replacing the flimsy strike plate with a stronger one and using longer screws to secure it in place. This job takes only a few minutes. However, the replacement will ensure that your door will withstand a few strong kicks and make things more difficult for someone trying to break into your home.
9. Let Others Know Your Home Is Secure
Whether or not you have a complete home security system, put a sign in your front yard and decals on your windows. If your home is armed, your security company has probably provided you with signs and decals. Use them.
While you’re still shopping for the best security system for your home, order some security signs online to make criminals think twice about robbing your house. The signs and decals are inexpensive and will give everyone notice that your home is secure.
Similarly, if you have a dog, advertise it with a “beware of dog” sign on your fence.
10. Make Your Street Number Visible
If there is an emergency in your home and you need assistance, first responders need to be able to identify the street number on your house easily. Consider buying a street number sign that is backlit to provide easier visibility. Also, make sure your trees and shrubs aren’t covering your sign. The next time you drive home, take note of how easy it is to spot your street numbers from the road. If you have trouble seeing them, an ambulance driver may also have a tough time.
11. Stock Your First Aid Kit
Do you have a first aid kit at home? If you’ve got antiseptic in one drawer, bandages in another and gauze in the downstairs medicine cabinet, that doesn’t count.
When there’s a need for quick first aid, it’s best to have all the necessary items together in one spot. Every member of the family should know exactly where the first aid kit is stored and how to use the items contained therein.
Here are some basic first aid items that should be in your kit:
- Multiple sizes of adhesive bandages
- Antiseptic spray, liquid, wipes or ointment
- Gauze roll
- Single-use ice packs
- Sling or fabric to make one
- Eyewash solution
- Activated charcoal
- Sterile medical gloves
Take the time to assemble a basic first aid kit just for your home. Then, show everyone in the house where it is and explain how to use each item in the kit.
12. Keep a Flashlight on Each Level of Your Home and Near Your Bed
No one wants to have to fumble around in the dark during a middle-of-the-night power outage. Buy an economy pack of flashlights and fresh batteries. Make sure you have a flashlight in an easily accessible location on each floor of your home. Also, keep a flashlight in the drawer of your bedside table and one near all the beds.
13. Check Appliance Wires
When is the last time you even looked behind the appliances in your home? Use one of those handy flashlights to take a peek behind your oven, washer, dryer, refrigerator and other major appliances to ensure that the wires are intact and not fraying. Also look to make sure that the plugs are firmly in the outlet socket, rather than hanging out a bit. Taking the time to check your appliance wires can help prevent an electrical fire.
Stay safe at home. Look at these tips with your home in mind. Are there areas in your home where you need to tighten up the safety? Put these tips into practice to ensure that your home is a safe place.
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Han, G. (2013). 5 ways to burglar-proof your front door. Retrieved from: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-secure-monitor-your-front-door-193987
Smoke alarms. (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://www.mc.uky.edu/kiprc/Fire/satips.htm
U.S. fire statistics. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/