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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Home Insurance

Is your home protected?

No homeowner wants to have to file a claim against their homeowner’s policy.  Whether the claim is a result of Mother Nature or a stroke of bad luck, filing a claim means you have suffered some kind of loss.  Even something that seems superficial can impact our sense of security and if there is any place on the planet where we should feel safe, it is in our own homes.  Our homes hold more than just our possessions.  They also hold the memories of days gone by and dreams of days yet to come, none of which can be replaced by an insurance company, no matter how great a policy you have.

As a homeowner, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of loss and safeguard the safety and security of your family.  While some seem like common sense, we often overlook the most common things that would keep our homes whole and our families safe.  For example, everyone knows that it is very important to have a smoke detector on every floor of your house and to check the batteries regularly.  However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, two-thirds of the deaths caused by house fires in the years between 2005 and 2009 occurred in houses without a working smoke alarm.  Additionally, the majority of smoke alarm failures can be tied back to missing or dead batteries.

Below are 5 tips all homeowners can take to safeguard themselves against loss.

1.     Assess Your Risk of Water Damage

Many people think the only cause of water damage is flooding but water damage caused by plumbing problems, leaking roofs, broken pipes, and other non-flood related events is far more common.   If you have a basement, make sure you have a floor drain or sump pump to remove any unexpected water.  If you use the basement for storage, make sure valuables are stored in such a way that unexpected water will not cause damage.  You should also have your plumbing inspected annually.

2.     Check Smoke Alarms and Fire Prevention Equipment

Verify that all smoke alarms are working and that fire extinguishers are easily accessible throughout the house.   Keep track of fireplace, wood stove, chimney, and heating system inspections and cleanings so you know they are occurring on a regular schedule.  Replace any frayed or damaged cords and be sure you know how to shut-down the power in the house if there is an emergency.

3.     Be Prepared for Storm Season

Here in Arizona, monsoon season brings high winds that can cause serious damage.  Minimize the risk of tree damage by inspecting your property and taking care of loose limbs and dead trees. Make any necessary repairs to siding, windows, and roofs to prevent further damage from high wind and torrential rain.  Create an emergency plan and stock emergency supplies to ensure your family’s safety in an emergency.

4.     Deter Would-Be Home Invaders

One of the best ways to prevent a break-in is to make your home unappealing to thieves.  Installing a home alarm system, exterior motion-sensor lights, and deadbolt locks are all ways to make it harder and therefore less appealing to get inside.  Keep track of all house keys and make sure windows and doors are locked when you leave and when you settle in for the night.

5.     Complete a Comprehensive Home Inventory

In the event that you do experience a loss, it can be very challenging to remember exactly what was lost and to be able to establish the value of all possessions.  Completing a home inventory prior to experiencing a loss ensures you will have the information if it is ever needed. Be sure to include receipts, appraisals, pictures, and video with your inventory and store the physical inventory offsite.