House To Home Moving Blog

Home Safety Assessment

Here’s a step-by-step guide to assessing the safety of your home.

Evaluate the Perimeter of the Property

Walk around the outside of your home and carefully consider how it might appear from the street. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are my valuables visible?
  • How many entry points are there at ground level and are they secure?
  • Is the property well lit, including pathways and any entrances?
  • Are any gates, garage doors, and storage sheds on the property locked down?
  • Are any hazardous materials or areas (like window wells and pools) secured?

Pay extra attention to your front door too. A weak lock can be a target for intruders, guests can trip on unlit walkways, and waiting packages can attract thieves.

Smart locks, motion-activated flood lights, outdoor cameras, and door and window sensors can help you secure each area. Depending on how many security measures you have in place, installing a home security system can let you control everything from one device and receive alerts when you’re away from home.

Update Your Fire Safety Measures

Obviously, you want to ensure smoke detectors are functioning in each hallway, the kitchen, and every bedroom. However, your fire safety precautions shouldn’t stop there. Make sure fire extinguishers are stored on every level of your home, and consider installing carbon monoxide detectors. Update any escape plans you’ve made, and teach all family members what to do and where to meet in case of an emergency.

Finally, check appliances in the house that could be fire hazards, like blocked dryer vents and malfunctioning dishwashers. Set up emergency alerts should be evaluated and cleaned yearly by a professional to verify they’re safe to use.

Look for Common Safety Hazards inside Your Home

Finally, it’s worthwhile to walk your home with a critical eye for several common safety hazards. Don’t forget these items as part of your home safety assessment:

  • Look for falling hazards like slippery showers, unsecured rugs, and uneven floors.
  • Evaluate that each room has adequate lighting, especially frequently trafficked areas like hallways and stairs.
  • Secure common choking and tripping risks like window blinds and dangling cords.
  • Lock up firearms and any prescription medications.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Set up emergency alerts.

If you have children in the home, you’ll want to conduct a more thorough baby proofing assessment to make sure your little one avoids the pitfalls of sharp edges, steep stairs, and cabinets full of dangerous items.

Be Prepared

Once you’ve secured your home from known risk factors, the next step is to be ready for the unexpected. Set up emergency alerts in case of natural disasters, and have an updated and well-stocked emergency kit on hand. When the time comes, you’ll be grateful you’ve invested not only in securing your home but also in taking care of the people you love.

Fire Safety Tips

This winter, make fireplace safety your number one concern. When temperatures dip we turn to our fireplaces to create heat as well as a cozy atmosphere for our home. But an increase in fireplace usage means that every homeowner should be aware of the hazards of unplanned fires and understand how to create a safe fire.

Sadly, 14,000 house fires each year start from fireplaces. Nearly 6,000 injuries occur from these fires and a whopping 65% of these injuries are inflicted upon children under the age of 5. Accidental fires also cause $893,000,000 worth of property damage each year. Following these safety tips can not only save lives, it can help save your home from damage.

Before you start using your fireplace, make sure that you’ve had it professionally maintained. If you have a wood burning fireplace you’ll want to hire a chimney sweep to inspect the inside of the fireplace as well as the outside. Gas fireplaces can be maintained as well – check with your manufacturer about licensed professionals. Remember that fireplace professionals are very busy in the cooler months, so it’s a great idea to call for an appointment a month or two before you want to use your fireplace. Not only will you have time to get the right appointment at the right time, you’ll allow for additional time if repairs are required.

Top 7 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

#1. Clean dryer vents and duct system: Thoroughly blowing out the dryer duct system is important to help make your appliance function better as well as reduce the risk of dryer fires. The incidences of this type of fire increase in the winter months so get this task done this month.

#2. Test smoke alarms: Thanksgiving turkey dinners and distraction from entertaining guests mean more accidental cooking fires. Add the possibility of unattended candles and fires in the fireplace and you have a recipe for danger. Stock up on fire extinguishers and check the batteries in your alarms.

#3. Get winter storm ready: November windstorms can easily knock out power. Check and replace the batteries in your flashlights and place them in easy-to-find areas of the home and service your backup generator system. While you’re at it, stock up on extra water and canned goods just in case.

#4. Call and schedule a heating service pro: Make sure your heating unit is in good working order and change the filters every 3 months.

#5. Call and schedule a gutter cleaner: November brings downed leaves, needles, and branches which can quickly clog your gutters and downspouts. Protect your roof and foundation by having clear gutter drains. And make sure you use common sense when climbing your ladder.

#6. Stock up on firewood: If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, make sure you have plenty of seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is wood that has been dry for at least a year. Unseasoned wood can produce more smoke or creosote buildup within the chimney.

#7. Keep lawn clear of leaves: Continue to rake leaves and remove heavy, fallen branches off of the lawn this month as wet leaves can suffocate the grass blades. Rake leaves and compost them or use them as mulch around shrubs and bushes in the yard.

Here are 5 energy-saving smart home devices

Intelligent Thermostats
The best smart thermostat will have an outsize impact not only how comfortable you are in your home, but also on your household budget. Heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly half of the average home’s utility bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

A programmable thermostat can help reduce those costs by turning your HVAC system on when you anticipate being home, and off when you don’t think you’ll need indoor climate control. A smart thermostat goes far beyond relying on a simple schedule. It will not only enable you to create more sophisticated schedules for every day of the week, and give you complete control over your HVAC system, even when you’re away from home. We continually test and evaluate smart thermostats and can help you find the right one for your home.

Automatic Blinds
During the warm summer months, your air conditioning can kick into overdrive trying to keep your home cool. When the sun streams through the window, it can heat up your home even more. Smart blinds sense when window temperatures rise and automatically adjust to help maintain your desired indoor temperature.

Home Energy Monitoring Systems
If you’ve ever taken a close look at your electricity bill you know that it’s pretty light on information. Your bill will tell you 1) how much electricity you have used and 2) how much you’re being charged. Unfortunately, that’s about it.

Let’s say you want to cut your energy use to save money or reduce your carbon footprint. To do that you either have to try to axe your unnecessary consumption as a whole, or simply guess which devices are heavy users. Energy monitors exist to eliminate this guessing game. They connect to your circuit breaker and allow you to track your energy consumption with much finer detail, allowing you to put the axe away and cut your energy consumption with a scalpel instead.

Magnetic Refrigerators
Conventional refrigerators work by compressing and expanding a gas as it flows around the cooling unit, but this process is not especially efficient. Refrigeration currently accounts for 25% of residential and 15% of commercial power consumption in the US In the past it has also used gases harmful to the environment.

In contrast, magnetic refrigeration devices have high efficiency even at a small scale, enabling the development of portable, battery-powered products. In fact, Stephen Russek of Aeronautics Corporation, estimates that when magnetic refrigerators are fully developed, they could reduce energy usage by approximately $10 billion per year, along with significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, magnetic refrigeration doesn't use ozone-depleting or global warming gases.

Environmentally-Conscious Clothes Dryers
A traditional dryer works by heating air, blowing it into the drum chamber (where it absorbs moisture from the clothes), and then exhausting the now moisture-laden hot air out of the dryer and out of the house.

A condensing dryer, on the other hand, works by heating air, blowing it into the drum chamber and then pulling that warm moist air from the drum and cooling it to the point that the moisture condenses and drips into a collection tray. The cool dry air is then heated and recirculated back into the drum where it again picks up moisture and the cycle continues.

The tricky thing with a condensing dryer is how to cool the air being pulled from the drum. Some condensing dryers use a metal plate that is air-cooled and some use a scheme that requires a steady supply of cold water. Neither of these systems results in a dryer that is any more energy-efficient than a traditional dryer, and the appliances are much slower. The market for condensing dryers has typically been for apartment buildings where running an exhaust vent isn’t feasible.

A heat-pump dryer is a kind of condensing dryer. Like pretty much every heat pump device, the heat pump in a heat pump clothes dryer has a cold coil and a hot coil. This works out perfectly for a condensing dryer as the cold coil can be used to cool the warm moist air coming from the drum (and to provide a condensing surface for the moisture in the air) and the hot coil can be used to heat the air before sending it back.

Heat pump clothes dryers use 40% to 50% as much electricity as a traditional electric dryer and dry clothes much faster than condensing dryers that don’t use heat pumps, while still being slower than a conventional gas or electric dryer.

Properly Maintaining Your Dryer

You may know to clean out the lint trap after every load. But did you know that lint can build up in the giant dryer vent tube as well? Excess lint is flammable and creates blockages in the ventilation system, making your dryer work inefficiently. Fires relating to dryer vents are very real. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2006-2010.” The leading cause of these fires was the failure to clean the dryer.

Annually cleaning out your dryer vent is recommended, but if you do a lot of laundry, you may want to do this twice a year. It’s easy to clean this yourself with just a vacuum cleaner and a screwdriver. If you also have your washer and dryer regularly inspected, ask your appliance professional to clean the vent as well. Follow these tips for a successful cleaning.

  1. Always clean the lint trap after each load
  2. Pull out the dryer away from the wall
  3. Unplug the dryer
  4. Detach the vent hose
  5. Vacuum the lint out of the dryer
  6. Vacuum both ends of the vent tube
  7. Reattach vent
  8. Plug it back in and move everything back
  9. Do this annually

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