Do you know where the hidden dangers in your home are located? (image via google)

When it comes to keeping our homes safe and secure, we all know the basics.  Don’t leave candles unattended, test your smoke detectors, and clean out the lint tray in the dryer.  But there are many other dangers lurking in our living rooms and cavorting in our kitchens that can be even more dangerous because we don’t think of them and therefore, don’t take the steps to protect against them.  June is Home Safety Month and to help you create the safest and most secure home possible, here are some of the most common hazards that may be hiding in your home.

Smoke Detectors without Batteries

It is great to have smoke detectors, but they need to be operational.  More than two-thirds of all home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke detectors according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.   Note: this fact doesn’t say homes without smoke detectors; it says homes without working smoke detectors.  Check your smoke detectors to ensure that they contain batteries and that the batteries are working.

Clutter

Clutter can drive you crazy but it can also endanger your life.  It might sound strange but there are several ways that living in a cluttered environment can pose a danger.  First, you increase your risk of tripping and falling when the pathways through your home are not clear.  Second, clutter can provide a great source of fuel for home fires.   Third, clutter can make it difficult to navigate through your home in situations with poor visibility.  This can impede your ability to evacuate in the event of a fire or find a flashlight if the power goes out.

Blocked or Permanently Closed Windows

Take a minute to look around your house from the perspective of having to get out of the house in the event of a fire.  Pay particular attention to the windows.  Could you get to at least one window in every room, get it open, and get out of it if there was a fire?  Blocked windows and windows that have been nailed or painted shut can pose a danger by blocking an intended evacuation route from a room. Make sure each room has an accessible window that provides an exit in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Frayed Cords on Electronic Equipment

When was the last time you routed around behind your entertainment center to ensure that all the cords coming out of your various pieces of electronic equipment are in good working order?  Odds are the only time you think about the cords plugged into your outlets is when you plug something in or unplug it.  Unfortunately, cords can become frayed over time which creates a very dangerous situation.  Add checking your cords to your annual safety check.

Combustible Kitchens

Stand facing your stove and look at what is within 3 feet of the heating sources.  If your house is like most houses, you will see paper towels, pot holders, recipe cards, magazines, papers from your child’s school, and several other combustible materials.  This may explain why almost half of all home fires start in the kitchen.  Keep a combustible free zone around the stove and oven to decrease your risk of becoming a fire statistic.

Dirty Dryers

Everyone knows that cleaning out the lint tray in the dryer helps prevent house fires.  However, just cleaning the lint tray isn’t enough.  Dirt and lint still builds up inside the machine increasing the risk of fire.  Clean this out at least once a year and have it professionally cleaned on a regular basis.

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Double check these items to make sure your home is safe (image via Arrow Fence Co)

June is National Home Safety Month and the National Safety Council, in conjunction with partners across the country, is encouraging everyone to participate by doing their part to make their home a safer place to live. 

Here are 8 things you can do this month to reduce the risk of preventable injuries and property damage.

1.     Check Your Smoke Alarms

This is something you are likely to hear several times a year, but there is a reason that it comes up so often – it is important.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, two thirds of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms.  Check that each alarm has good batteries and that the alarm itself is in good working condition. Make sure you have enough smoke detectors to provide proper protection for all members of your family.

2.     Have a Fire Drill

Your family needs to practice escaping from a home fire for the same reason that children practice evacuating their school building in the event of a fire; practice makes it easier to do what you need to during a crisis.  The best way to protect your family in a fire is to make sure they know what to do and how to get out of the house.

3.     Make a List of Emergency Phone Numbers

We sometimes take for granted that everyone knows what to do and who to call when there is a crisis but this isn’t always the case.  Make a list of important phone numbers including the police and fire station, close family members, the poison center, neighbors, and family doctors and dentists.

4.     Create a Basic Emergency Plan

Make a plan for basic emergencies that lets all family members know what to do and where to go when something happens.  Your basic plan should include an outside meeting place, the location of basic emergency supplies like flashlights, and the process for shutting off utilities like water and electricity.

5.     Do More than Spring Clean

Clean all lint out of your dryer and exhaust hose.  Have your furnace cleaned and inspected.  Get your septic system pumped.

6.     Keep Things Grounded

Make sure all major appliances like refrigerators, dryers, washers, and dishwashers are grounded.  Locate and test all the GFCI outlets in your house and make sure other family members know where they are.  Don’t overload outlets.

7.     Place Emergency Supplies Throughout the House

You don’t just need a fire extinguisher in the kitchen or near the woodstove.  To be safe, put a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, flashlight, and first aid kit on each floor of the house.  Make sure all family members know where these supplies are located and how to use them.

8.     Eliminate  or Mitigate Risky Areas

If you have a swimming pool, make sure there is a solid fence around the pool that is locked when you are not paying attention to it.  If you have a hot tub, keep it covered when it is not in use.  Protect your family and your neighbors by making it difficult to use these things without you being present.

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