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A complete home safety checklist

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It is incumbent upon all of us to do our best to ensure that our home is a safe place.
Here are tips that may prove to be invaluable:
•Set your water heater at 120 degrees to prevent burns.
Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm near each sleeping area.
Keep gas appliances properly adjusted and serviced.
Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune up your home's central heating system.
Fireplaces and woodstoves should also be inspected each year.
Patch cracks, repair uneven surfaces on walkways and remove hoses and other trip hazards.
Mark the edges of steps with reflective tape or consider a ramp.
Make sure handrails are available and secured properly.
No clutter
•No piles of books or paper on the floor to slip on or trip over.
No loose throw rugs.
Tape area rugs to the floor.
Keep all floors wax-free to avoid slipping.
Place cords along walls where they will not trip anyone. Do not run the wires under carpeting.
Good lighting
•Install timed and motion-sensor lights outdoors.
Inside, have bright lights over stairs and on landings.
Use the highest-watt bulbs possible for fixtures or lamps.
Install night lights in hallways.
Replace traditional light switches rocker-style switches.
•Fix all broken steps.
Handrails should run the entire distance of the stairs.
Handrails should be on both sides of the stairway and anchored to the wall framing. Set handrails 2 to 3 inches from the wall to allow a good grip.
Keep stairs clear of clutter.
Make sure carpeting on stairs is well secured.
•Good lighting over the tub will make it safer.
Install grab bars in the tub and shower as well as outside the tub and shower.
Anchor grab bars to the wall framing.
Use nonslip mats in the tub and shower.
Use long lever style handles on faucets.
Be surebath mats have nonskid backing.
If bathing is done while sitting on a bath bench install a hand shower.
Ensure all electric outlets are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected.
Use plastic glasses, soap trays and other accessories.
Remove the lock from the bathroom door to allow full access in case of an emergency.
Consider installing a cordless telephone in the bathroom.
•Kitchens need especially good lighting for food preparation and clean up.
Clean up spills immediately. Wet floors are slippery.
Ensure all electric outlets are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected.
Make sure all wires, cords and plugs on your appliances are not frayed and that the plugs have three-prong grounded connections.
Don't use extension cords in the kitchen or other wet areas.
Get rid of any appliance that is broken or damaged.
Don't leave the kitchen with cooking on the stove.
Make sure to turn off burners as soon as you take the pot off.
When cooking, avoid wearing loose sleeves, sweaters, bathrobes or tops with big sleeves that can catch on fire.
Keep dishtowels, potholders and oven mitts away from the stove.
If using candles in the kitchen, don't leave the room (or home) while they're burning. Better yet, invest in some flameless candles.
Check furniture, curtains and dishtowels to be sure they are not blocking heaters or vents.
Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen, but not near the stove or the heater. Learn how to use it.
Make sure all drawers have stops on the guides to eliminate the chance of a drawer crushing a foot.
Fire safety
•Never smoke in bed or leave burning cigarettes unattended.
Do not empty smoldering ashes in a trash can, and keep ashtrays away from upholstered furniture and curtains.
Never place portable space heaters near flammable materials such as drapes or curtains.
Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of children.
Install smoke alarms on every floor of the home.
Use long-life smoke alarms with lithium-powered batteries and hush buttons, which allow persons to stop false alarms quickly. If long-life alarms are not available, use regular alarms, and replace the batteries annually.
Test all smoke alarms every month
Devise a family fire escape plan and practice it every six months. Describe at least two different ways each family member can escape every room, and designate a safe place in front of the home for family members to meet after escaping a fire.
If possible, install or retrofit fire sprinklers into your home.
This list can be a lot of work and may require your attention over a considerable period of time. Tape this article to your refrigerator and ask your family to help by encouraging you to make your home safe.
For tips from James and Morris Carey, go to or call the listener hot line, 800-737-2474, ext. 59. The Careys are also on KRKO (1380-AM) from 6 to 10 a.m. every Saturday.
Story tags » Home Improvement

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