Follow these basic guidelines to keep your home safe for the entire family.
- Cordless Window Coverings: Loose cords can strangle children in an instant. Switch out all corded blinds and curtains for cordless versions. If this is cost prohibitive or not possible, make sure all cords are stored out of children’s reach and without loops or knots.
- Smoke Detectors: Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms outside every bedroom, as well as on every level of your home (including the basement) and in furnace areas. Buy dual alarms that use long-life lithium batteries. Test your smoke alarms at least once per month to make sure they’re working properly and replace the batteries every year.
- Extension Cords: No cords, including extension cords, should run across doorways or under rugs. If you’re using an extension cord as a permanent fixture, consider having new electrical outlets installed.
- Outlet Safety: Once a month, do a hand-check on all outlets; if they’re warm, call your electrician. At all times, make sure you stay within manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage per outlet, and never plug more than one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet.
- Sweep Your Chimney: Schedule an annual flue and chimney sweep (inspection and cleaning) before firing up your first logs. And while we’re on that topic, only burn dry or seasoned wood, which produces less creosote (soot) – a fire hazard.
- Water Heater Safety: Your water heater should be set for a maximum 120° to prevent burns (especially if you have children). Always keep flammable or combustible materials (including household chemicals and aerosol cans) away from your hot water heater.
- Fire Extinguishers: You should have a fire extinguisher in at least the kitchen and on every floor of your home. Replace extinguishers as directed by the manufacturer.
- Escape Route: Establish a plan of escape in the event of fire. You should map out at least two exit routes, and should purchase a rescue ladder if your home is multi-level. Practice your escape plan at least twice per year, with at least one time at night.
- Emergency Numbers: Compile a list of emergency phone numbers, from the local police and fire departments to who to call in case of emergency. Print several versions to post throughout your home (at least one per floor).
- Pool Safety: If you have a pool (or any source of water on your property), surround it or block access with a 4-foot fence. The access gate should open out, and should close automatically (without slamming shut) and employ a self-latch system that positioned out of reach of little hands.
- Poison Control: Keep all poisonous chemicals and other products behind locked doors. Additionally, controlled substances like alcohol and tobacco should be kept in a locked cabinet.
- Babyproofing and Childproofing: Keeping your home safe for a baby or young child is essential. Learn more about baby proofing and childproofing (for toddlers+).
Also read: Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
Part of keeping your home safe is keeping it secure, so double-check your home for these basic security measures. For a more in-depth approach to burglarproofing your home, read up on the best burglar deterrents and other home security tips.
- Use Deadbolts: Use a sturdy deadbolt on every exterior door. If any doors have windows, also install a floor lock.
- Motion-Activated Floodlights: Install motion-sensor floodlights around your home, and make sure their bulbs are in good, working condition.
- Sliding Doors: Sliding or track doors require a solid bar or dowel in their tracking system to prevent break-in. This bar should measure almost the exact length of the track (within 1/4″ of the total length).
- Spare Combination: Do not store your spare key under a rock or on the doorframe – thieves know all about these hiding spots. Either give your key to a trusted neighbor or install a small combination safe somewhere on your property.
- Visible House Number: In case of emergency, your house number should be clearly visible from the street. Consider using reflective numbers or installing a light over the area, so your home can be identified even in the dark.