As our wild winter weather has recently shown, we never know when there will be a natural disaster or other emergency, which is why it is so critical to be prepared in advance.
According to Sage Singleton, a home and community safety expert for SafeWise, here are 10 ways to ensure your home and family are safe in the event of an emergency.
1. Protect your home from break-ins. A home invasion occurs every thirteen seconds in the United States. Investing in a home security system is the primary way to protect your loved ones, home and valuables against burglars.
2. Inspect your outdoor lighting. Speaking of burglars, well-lit homes help deter burglars as well as prevent accidents. Make sure to check your outdoor lights to see if any need to be added or replaced.
3. Know potential threats and emergencies relevant to your location. If you live in the Midwest, tornados are a bigger threat than floods. If you live in California, earthquakes (and more recently, flooding, mudslides and downed trees) are a real danger. Educate your family about the natural threats common to where you live and create a plan on what you will do if one of these issues happens. Having a plan and instinctively knowing what to do can save your life in the event of a disaster.
4. Perform regular home safety checks. Every month, inspect your home for signs of broken or damaged items. Make sure your roof, basement, attic, pipes, and foundation are in good condition. Check your door locks, garage door, and windows for any broken parts. Regularly fixing up your home will help maintain its value and keep it in great condition.
Other things to look for:
- Rotting wood
- Water heater-if it's gurgling or making strange noises, it's time to drain it.
- Sloppy wiring in electrical boxes
- Foundation cracks
- Damp areas in attics and basements
- Missing shingles or roof tiles
5. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. An average of $12 billion in personal property is lost to house fires every year. Protect your home and personal items by routinely testing your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Not only will this protect your home and property, but it can also save your life.
6. Inspect your fire extinguisher. Check the pressure gauge to see if the needle is in the green, and replace or service it if it isn’t. Also examine the hose and nozzle for cracks, and you’ll need to replace your fire extinguisher if the handle is missing the locking pin or is broken. Should a home fire occur, you will be prepared to handle the situation because your fire extinguisher will be in great working condition. Don't have fire extinguishers in your home? Get some. Keep one in the kitchen, laundry room and garage, all key areas where fires can start. (It's also wise to keep one in the trunk of your car.)
7. Create an emergency communication plan. Discuss what everyone in your home will do in case of a disaster. Talk with each family member about their responsibilities, where you will meet, and how to communicate with one another. It's important to have a central meeting location established so everyone can meet and regroup, especially if phone lines are down. Discuss different disaster scenarios and come up with a communication and action plan that everyone knows and can enact if necessary. Be sure to review your plans on a regular basis to keep it fresh in everyone's mind as well as to modify if needed.
8. List relevant contact information and make it easily accessible to everyone. Keep contact information on hand in case of an emergency. While you may keep phone numbers in your cellphone, it's smart to keep a hard copy of key contacts in your home. (How many of us even know people's phone numbers these days?) This list can include your primary care physician, poison control, and a trusted neighbor. Post in a visible place in your home, keep copies in your cars and have your children keep copies in their backpacks.
9. Keep 72-hour emergency kits in your home and car. The Center for Disease Control recommends putting together an emergency kit that includes the following.
- One gallon of water per person, per day
- Non-perishable food that is easy to prep
- A can opener
- Important medication
- A radio
- Toilet paper
- Extra clothes and shoes
- Blankets (space blankets are ideal for cars as they fit in your glove compartment)
10. Compile and regularly update your home inventory. If you need to file an insurance claim after a blizzard or burglary, it’ll help to have an itemized inventory for your valuable home goods. Store instruction manuals, serial numbers, and important receipts in files that you can access easily when needed. Take photos of valuable items, or do a video walk through of your home. Keep these photos and videos on the cloud.
By implementing these ten safety tip into your to-do list and you’ll be able to safeguard your home, property, and family should a disaster or emergency occur.
Article from RISMedia's housecall, written by Sage Singleton.