We plan for retirement, vacations and home improvements, so why not take some time to put a plan in place for dealing with a home emergency? As the old adage goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it’s important to make sure safety precautions are in place to keep your home and family safe.
Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly. Change the batteries at least once a year, and if you need help remembering when it’s time, choose a special date every year such as a birthday, anniversary, holiday or daylight savings. Experts recommend replacing the whole unit every ten years. Smoke alarms should be placed on every floor of the home, including the basement, and make sure each family member can hear the alarm from their bedrooms. For further precaution, replace regular alarms with interconnected alarms, which will set off all alarms, instead of just one, should smoke be detected. Keep fire extinguishers located in an easily accessible place and ensure that family members know how to operate one safely. Periodically check that the gauge on the extinguisher is still pressurized and the unit doesn’t need to be replaced. Most household extinguishers are multipurpose and can be used on all three (A, B, and C) classes of fire, but it’s important to check the label just in case. For example, it’s dangerous to use an extinguisher that is labeled for only a “Class A” fire on a grease or electrical fire.
Home Security Protocol
If you have a home security system installed, you should also test it on a regular basis. Check the owner’s manual for suggested testing intervals, as every system is different. Each family member should know how to arm and disarm the system, and perhaps keep a simple instruction sheet nearby, just in case. Consider a security system with a motion sensor that can detect movement within the home, rather than just detecting when a door or window is opened. This type of system is great for larger areas such as attached garages, basements and enclosed patios. Forgot to turn the alarm on before heading out? Many systems can now be remotely armed and disarmed through your smartphone and other mobile devices. If you don’t have a wireless system, make sure all wiring is concealed. Don’t “invite” an intruder into your home. Leaving notes on the door for delivery people or other family members is like a welcome mat for a burglar. Go outside your home and take in the view. Make sure you can’t see any expensive items through the windows that would entice someone on the prowl. You might be really excited to share that you’re leaving for your upcoming vacation on Facebook, but think before you post it. You don’t want to risk having the wrong person see it. Same goes for uploading photos while there-you can always post your fabulous vacation photos after you return. While you’re gone, set a timer to turn on a few lights each night. Also, keep the volume on the phone turned down, as a ringing, unanswered phone can be a red flag to someone that you’re not around.
Practice Makes Perfect
Having a home escape plan can be key in helping everyone exit safely if an emergency were to occur. For a well-thought-out plan, draw a diagram of the home and mark the location of the doors and windows, and practice two ways to exit from every room in the home. Make sure to set up a meeting place outside where everyone can be accounted for. Although the kids may groan, practicing the drill with all family members on a regular basis will help it stay fresh in everyone’s mind. Homeowners with a two- or three-story home should have a portable escape ladder that can be stored easily under a bed, but an arm’s reach away in case of an emergency. If stored in a child’s room, use it as part of the drill, but practice from a first floor window. We hope that these precautions won’t ever be needed for a real situation, but it’s best to live by the Boy Scout’s motto: “Be Prepared!” If you would like more information on how to better protect your family and home, your local police and fire departments are a great resource. If interested in installing a home security system, perhaps we can recommend a home security expert.