Spring is here. As we look forward to longer, warmer days, it’s a good time to look around your home or apartment and identify the elements that might pose a danger to you or others. You might also eliminate conditions that could cause unnecessary damage.
Here are five simple things that can make your home or apartment safer.
1. Prevent break-ins. Did you know break-ins increase in the spring and summer? The Justice Department says a home in the U.S. is burglarized every 20 seconds. Many of these are crimes of opportunity from thieves looking for an easy target. Simply locking doors and windows, not leaving garage doors open and installing extra lighting and a security system can reduce the risk. Trimming back bushes from around the home, having a dog and joining a neighborhood watch group are also good ways to deter a burglar.
2. Fire-proof your home. Many of us may not know that fires burn hotter and faster than in the past. New tests show the open floor plans of modern homes, synthetic furniture and tons of electronics can cause a spark or a flame to flash into a major blaze in just three to five minutes. It’s important that we eliminate clutter, install smoke detectors on all levels of the home and in all bedrooms, have fire extinguishers available, and have an escape plan. It’s also essential to create defensible space around your home in case of a wildfire. Remember, too, that smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths.
3. Eliminate trips and falls. While you can’t prevent all of them, you can make certain that stairs are in good repair with firm handrails, toys, newspapers and other clutter are picked up, rugs have a non-skid backing and bathrooms and showers have safety handles and no-slip bathmats. Adequate lighting inside and outside also helps. Not only will these actions protect your family, but they help prevent you from being sued if someone hurt themselves at your home or apartment.
4. Prepare for natural disasters. This is the beginning of storm season. Do you have a safe area in case there is a tornado or earthquake? Do you know your risk for flood, fire or weather events? Now is the time to make certain your home is as disaster proof as possible, that you have an evacuation and communications plan, and prepare an emergency kit with extra food, water, medicines, etc.
5. Check appliances, pipes and wires. Water from broken pipes, loose fittings and clogged drains can cause serious damage to your home. Inspect the backs of refrigerators, washers and other water sources for cracked pipes or rusted connectors. Frayed wires and clogged vents can cause fires, as can fireplaces and heaters that haven’t been cleaned and checked.
No matter how well you plan, you need home or renters insurance to protect your most valuable asset and your possessions. Homeowners and renters insurance also provide temporary housing and additional living costs while your home is repaired, as well as liability protection in case you get sued. Don’t forget that earthquakes and floods are not covered under your homeowner or renters insurance. You need separate policies for those.