Safety should be a top priority for homeowners. Yet, more often than not, people believe that their home is completely safe just because it passes a home inspection. Yes, a home inspection is great for determining if the electrical, heating, plumbing, and structure of a home will cause any immediate danger. However, to be certain that your new home is livable, you need to make sure that everything is in proper working order and that some form of security is in place. Here are some safety tips that will help ensure that your new home is as safe as possible.
Fortify Your Defenses
The first thing you need to do after getting the key is change the locks. All of them. You never know who else has been given a key just like yours. You may even want to consider installing a new security system just to be safe. Also, check that all potential entry points are secure. This includes windows, garage doors, chimneys, crawl spaces, skylights, and doggie doors, all of which have been used in burglaries throughout the country.
Look over your yard and the outside of your home as well, since these areas arent normally examined during a home inspection (except for irrigation). Make sure your yard, entryway, and all walkways are well lit and easily visible from the street, which should help discourage thieves from targeting your home. If possible, install motion sensor lights that will go on whenever anyone gets close to the house.
Also check for holes in the lawn, driveway, and walkways, and fill them in to prevent falls. Trim away dead branches that might fall, and make certain there are no poisonous plants in your yard. Additionally, position your garbage bins away from the house to keep insects and critters as far away as possible.
Prevent Indoor Accidents
Since you and your family will be spending most of your time inside your home, youll want to make sure to practice every kind of accident prevention method there is. For starters, check that all doors and windows function properly. Doing so is good for privacy reasons and is essential if you need an escape route. To prevent any trips or falls, replace all loose flooring or carpets and cover all slippery areas with a rug, mat, anti-skid tape, or a non-slip flooring treatment. Installing extra lighting to poorly lit areas of the house will also help, as will keeping all hallways and walkways unblocked.
Ensure Good Wiring
Although a good home inspector will check the houses electric wiring, which includes checking the circuit breaker, the type of wiring, the grounding, and all outlets, receptacles, and lighting fixtures, the inspection is superficial. For your own safety, its best that you do your own, more extensive check. First, make sure you know where the circuit breaker is located and that it is labeled correctly. Check for any loose wires the inspector may have missed, and that all outlets and light switches have faceplates. If you notice that a faceplate is discolored or warm to the touch, or if any lights flicker or dim, you should check the wiring or have an electrician do it for you.
When it comes to using your electricity, know the limits of your circuits, and dont overload your outlets. Never plug in more than one heat producing device or major appliance in the same outlet, and make sure the appliances are not directly against the wall. This includes refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, coffee makers, etc. Another thing to remember is not to run cords or wires underneath the carpet or along the floor where people are likely to trip over them.
Practice Fire Prevention
Whether your home is new or old, using fire prevention measures can keep you, your family, and your home safe. Each state has its own regulations when it comes to smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, so take these into account and install whatever is needed. Once installed, test the batteries and familiarize yourself and your family with how each one sounds. Youll want to know the sound difference between each system so you can tell what the danger is if either one goes off. As an extra precaution, place properly working fire extinguishers strategically around the house, or consider getting a sprinkler system.
Make Sure All Systems Are Go
As mentioned before, a home inspection is more of a visual examination than anything else, so its best to double check that the homes plumbing and other systems and components are functioning the way theyre supposed to. To start, find out where the gas and water shut offs are located and how to turn them off and on. You should also consider getting your water tested to be certain there are no contaminants in your pipes.
The inspector most likely checked that all heating and cooling systems are working, but you should make sure theyre clean and that filters are replaced if needed. A buildup of dust or debris in or near any type of heat producing element can cause a fire, so keep flammable materials at least three feet away. Dont forget to check the kitchen exhaust, dryer vent, all outside vents, the chimney, and the fireplace (which should have a screen or barrier in front of it).
Employ General Safety Habits
With all these security measures in place in your new home, you should also get in the habit of performing general safety practices. For example, its a good idea to get to know your neighbors so you can look out for each other. Likewise, familiarize yourself with the neighborhood to know which areas are safe and which ones to avoid.
Talk with your family and come up with an emergency plan and escape route in case of a disaster, like a fire or earthquake. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit and emergency kit in a place the entire household knows about and have a list of medical and emergency contact numbers by the phone. Lastly, if you have any children or pets, take any extra measures needed to ensure their safety.
As the homeowner, you are ultimately responsible for the well-being of anyone living in or visiting your new home, so its important to ensure that its as safe as possible. This will save you a lot of hassle and heartache in the long run. To make things better, though, use these tips as a starting off point, and continue to maintain and improve on your safety measures as things pop up.