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Is Your Home As Safe As It Can Be?

When we think of home safety, we immediately think of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  Although these items are a large part of the equation, when it comes to being safe in our homes, there’s much more to consider.

Stop fires before they start.  True, smoke detectors save lives, but do you have enough of them, and in the right locations?  Smoke detectors should be installed on every floor, near stairwells and especially near bedrooms.  Kidde’s Nighthawk Premium Smoke and Fire Alarm is a great unit with hush and test buttons and a visual blinking “on” light to ensure your family is protected.  Each floor of your home should also have a carbon monoxide detector, such as First Alert’s battery operated unit, the average lifespan of which is about 10 years.  If you’re unsure about the age of the unit, replace it to avoid false readings or malfunctions.  And remember to change the batteries in all units regularly.  Need an easy way to remember?  When you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time, change the batteries in your detectors.

Fire extinguishers should also be located on each floor, in the garage and in the basement.  Become familiar with how to operate one, even if it means buying an extra and testing it in the backyard (always read the directions carefully).  The typical lifespan of an extinguisher is about three years.  If the unit is older, replace it – even if the pointer is still in the “green” portion of the dial.

Despite your efforts to prevent fire in the home, accidents can happen, and being prepared means having an escape plan and a predetermined meeting place to ensure the safety of your family.  If your home is a two story, consider purchasing escape ladders so loved ones can exit from second floor locations.  First Alert’s Fire Escape Ladder is a 14-foot ladder with two-story homes, with each rung individually rated at 350 pounds.  Inform family members where the ladders are stored; their space-saving design can be stowed under a bed or in a closet, out of sight.

“Lighten up” in the name of security.  Home safety includes more than just the basics to prevent fires.  Your family will be able to function better in a home that is well lit.  Proper outdoor security lighting will make it safer to approach your home and can help reduce the chance that your home will be the target of a break-in.  And when it comes to security, you don’t have to sacrifice style.  Ace’s Motion Sensor Lights are a great addition to your home’s exterior, adding the safety and convenience of a motion-activated exterior light.  Landscape lighting can also transform the look of your home in the evening and will provide extra security.

Put your space on lockdown.  Check your door locks and entry handles regularly to ensure they are in good working order, and use deadbolts on all entry doors.

Safety on the ground level.  Check to see if your floors transition smoothly.  For example, if the kitchen floor is higher than the living room floor, you’ll want to make them level – and install thresholds accordingly to avoid tripping hazards.  Completely even surfaces across the landscape of your home’s interior are especially important if you have small children or elderly residents living with you.  If you use area or accent rugs, install anti-slip pads underneath them to keep your loved ones “grounded”

Finshing touches.  Give your home a safety check with in-home testing kits.  There are a variety of water quality, lead and even asbestos test kits to ensure that your home is operating in the safe zone.  Many of these kits also have a lab component that will give a scientific analysis to help you make an informed decision on how to proceed if your levels are higher than normal.  Simply follow the instructions and send the sample to the lab in the included packaging. 

I hope this helps to shed some light on the importance of security in your home.  For more safety and security advice, email me at asklou@acehardware.com or visit the helpful folks at your neighborhood Ace Hardware store. 

Article by Lou Manfredini Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man” from the Ace Homeplace Fall 2005.

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