Renos & DIY

The Guide to Home Safety

By Mia Rodak, Website Manager

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The Guide to Home Safety

Nobody is 100 per cent protected all the time. That's a fact of life. But are you as prepared as you can be to prevent disaster and protect your family? Is your home safe? Most of us would answer yes, but there are always things that we can do better, be more aware of and inform our family and friends about. So even if you think you score a perfect 10 when it comes to protection — read our tips on fire safety, childproofing, and outdoor safety — because what you don't know can hurt you.

Fire Safety

15 Tips for Fire Prevention

The easiest way to protect yourself and your family from fire is by never letting one happen. Follow these 15 tips and make your home as fireproof as possible:

1. Talk to your family, especially kids, about the dangers of fire. Children can be fascinated and curious about fire and it's easy for them to make a devastating mistake if they aren't totally aware of how deadly it can be.

2. Matches, lighters and any other flammable materials should always be stored in a safe place - out of children's reach. Make sure that your kids know that these things are never to be touched, except by an adult. In order to enforce this important rule, never allow your kids to light candles, even on birthday cakes.

3. Remember that kids aren't the only family members who start fires - you should never allow smoking in your house, but if you do, never smoke in bed and never dump ashes into the garbage without wetting them first.

4. Never leave candles, or your fireplace (wood or electric), unattended.

5. Every fireplace should have a protective, fireproof screen that remains closed at all times.

6. Have your chimney cleaned regularly, at least once every year.

7. The kitchen is a common place for fires to start, so be mindful of electric appliances such as toasters, coffee-makers, tea kettles and the stove. Never plug more that one appliance into the same electrical outlet and always unplug when not in use.

8. While cooking and baking are great family hobbies, make sure that young children know that they should never touch the stove in your absence.

9. Always turn pot and pan handles inwards on the stove while cooking so that they can't be grabbed by small children or knocked over by passers-by.

10. Never run cords under carpets in high traffic areas and make sure to inspect old cords for wear and tear as often as possible.

11. If a cord has worn out in places and the wires are exposed, unplug and replace immediately.

12. Lamps and light bulbs can get very hot. Hot enough to start fires in your home. Always keep combustible material away from lamps, always turn lights off when not needed and always be sure that you are using the right bulb wattage in your lamps.

13. Pay attention to the outside of your home as well as the inside. Never let old brush or garden clippings pile up around your yard. Keep your lawn, driveway and porch free from papers and garbage. These are prime targets for a stray match or cigarette.

14. Every floor of your house or apartment must be equipped with a working fire alarm. Make sure that the batteries are changed regularly. Make sure that everyone in your family knows what the fire alarm sounds like and what they should do if and when it goes off.

15. Make sure that you have at least one fire extinguisher in your home and that every family member that is big enough to use it knows how to use it.

In Case of Fire: Is Your Family Ready?

No matter how many precautions you take, or how fireproof your home is, fires do happen. Are you and your family prepared if it happens to you? Here are 10 steps that you should take to ensure that you and your family will be safe in the event of a fire.

1. Make sure that emergency numbers are posted in an easily accessible spot close to the telephone.

2. Make it very clear to all family members that the single most important thing to do in the event of a fire is to get everyone out of the house as quickly as possible.

3. Make sure that every member of your family knows two ways to escape from every room in the house in the event of a fire. One normal exit and one emergency exit (through a window or a fire escape). If the second escape route is an upper story with nothing to stand on, you should consider investing in a fire ladder and showing the family how us it. Make sure to practice the emergency exits at least once a year with the entire family.

4. Designate one member of the household to be in charge of getting small children, disabled people and pets out of the house. That person must know that if a pet runs away or refuses to leave the house, they will have to leave them behind. Never run back into a burning building!

5. Decide on a meeting place for the family outside of the house where everybody should go in the event of an evacuation. This can be a neighbour's house, or a tree across the street from your home.

6. From an early age, kids (and parents) should learn to sleep with their bedroom doors closed. It's an important way to prevent fire from spreading into their rooms.

7. In the event of a fire, you should always remain calm and let other members of your family know that you are okay by calling out to them and telling them how you are going to get out of the house and how they should get themselves out.

8. Make sure that your kids know that they should never hide in closets or under the bed if there is a fire. Firefighters may not be able to find them.

9. Keeping low to the ground can save your life. Sometimes smoke is the deadliest part of a house fire. Teach kids to crawl on the ground and cover their nose and mouth with a damp cloth or their t-shirt.

10. Stop, drop and roll! This can save your life should your clothing catch fire. Make sure that you practice this technique with you kids.

Childproofing At Home

There are a million things that new parents need to do to prepare themselves and their homes for the arrival of a new baby. Commonly, soon-to-be parents take a lot of time and precautions preparing the house for safety. Still, accidents can happen even when parents think that they have done everything that they can to make their home safe. We've listed 10 important steps that parents should take around the house before the new baby arrives — and maintain as long as there are small children in the house.

1. There are a number of valuable products on the market that can help you to protect a new baby or toddler. These are just a few: safety gates, latches and locks for cupboards, window guards, corner/edge bumpers, door stops, anti-scalding devices, electrical outlet covers, and of course smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices. Always be sure that the devices you buy are good quality. Looking them up in consumer report magazines or websites should give you a good idea.

2. Buy a cordless phone if you don't have one already. Number one in child safety is constant adult supervision. Eyes off for even a minute can be dangerous. A cordless phone will allow you to answer calls without leaving the room that the baby is in.

3. Keep window blind or curtain cords cut short to help prevent strangulation. Toddlers who are just learning to walk can quickly become tangled in a long, dangling cord. Same goes for phone wires and other electrical cords.

4. Medications, cleaning products and any other potentially hazardous material should be kept up high and in a locked cupboard. Before bringing baby home, look at everything that you are unsure about as a potential poison. Better safe than sorry!

5. Don't forget about plants and flowers; some varieties can be poisonous for small children. Remember, if they can get it in their mouth, they will eat it.

6. Sometimes even toys can harm your baby. Check all new toys carefully for small parts that detach and can get ripped or bitten off easily by baby. Choking is a serious hazard for toddlers.

7. Plastic bags can be deadly. Keep out of reach of children and watch for things like the plastic from your dry cleaning. Children are attracted to its texture and sound and can quickly suffocate on this material.

8. Set an example of safety for your child at an early age. Don't allow them to play inside cupboards or other small spaces and you'll decrease the risk of them getting trapped or inured.

9. Teach toddlers to go up and down stairs on their stomachs and always keep the gates locked.

10. Finally, water is a hazard in all of its forms. It only takes a tiny amount for a baby to get into trouble. Always keep toilet seats closed. Never, ever leave your child alone in the bath and secure backyard pools with all the necessary safety devices, including a fence!

Outdoor Safety

When considering how safe your home is for your family, don't forget to look outdoors as well. Workshops, garages, driveways, gardens and pools can all hold obvious, and not-so-obvious, dangers for your family. Here are 5 important things to watch out for.

1. Outdoor playtime is an important part of every child's day. Make sure that kids of all ages are as safe as they can be when they are playing outside. When using bikes, skateboards, scooters or any other riding toy, your kids should always wear a helmet.

2. If you have a pool, creek or pond in your backyard you absolutely must take every precaution to ensure that it is safe for your family and pets. You should install a protective fence around the area. While young children should always wear life preservers while playing in or around the pool, they are not a second line of defense to adult supervision! Always supervise your family by the pool.

3. Your beautiful, prize garden can contain some serious hazards for small children and pets. Take the time before planting to research all the plants you've chosen and ensure that they are safe!

4. Workshops, garages and car doors should remain locked and inaccessible to children at all times. Even if you think that you have everything out of harms way, there are so many dangers in these places that the only way to absolutely guarantee safety is to keep kids out! Open car doors are a dream come true for kids and their friends and it is easy for them to become locked inside, a serious risk for suffocation. Even worse, they could get a hold of your keys and what seems like a cool game can turn deadly very fast.

5. Apartment dwellers and home owners with decks and balconies have an added area of concern. Ensure that your balcony is safe by adjusting railing so they don't have any openings anywhere that are wider than 4 inches. Covering the entire inside of the railing area with strong Plexiglas is a safe option because it will also prevent children from climbing. Keep patio furniture away from edges so kids won't be tempted to climb. And always keep doors and windows, leading to the balcony or deck, securely locked.

No home will ever be complete free of hazards, nor can we go through life being deadly afraid that something terrible will happen. Instead we do as much as possible to ensure the safety of our homes and families. Build trust with your children by talking openly about safety and it will put your mind at ease, while making them more aware of how they can prevent accidents. For another great resource on home safety and child safety visit www.esafety.com.

Topics: Safety, Renos & DIY

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