6 simple ways to make your home safer

Simple measures around the house or through your phone can ensure your home’s safety so you’re free to focus on other issues. (Photo: Shutterstock) Whether your insurance clients own a house or rent an apartment, there’s no excuse for not making home safety a priority. Along with the peace of mind, these steps will go a long way in mitigating potential liabilities and avoiding costly insurance claims. Taking some quick and easy steps can do wonders for increasing the safety and security of every person’s home. Check out our list of simple solutions to make sure your residence is as safe as it can be: Related: How well do you know condo insurance exclusions? Smoke alarm batteries should be replaced at least once a year. (Photo: Shutterstock) 1. Check your smoke detectors. Per the National Fire Protection Association, three out of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%) between 2009 and 2013. Dead batteries caused one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures. To ensure this doesn’t happen in your home, make sure smoke detectors are present and check them regularly by pressing and holding the test button on the smoke detector. After a few seconds, if a loud, piercing sound has not begun emanating from the smoke detector, either the battery or the smoke detector needs to be replaced. If a sound comes out but is weak, the battery should be replaced. Smoke alarm batteries should be replaced at least once a year — a good rule of thumb is to do this along with other safety precautions at the “Spring Forward” time change each year. Related: Top 100 U.S. cities with the highest risk of home fires, ranked by The Hartford [infographic] Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and knowing how to use it, is highly recommended. (Photo: Shutterstock) 2. Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher. Between 2010 and 2014, almost half of reported home structure fires (46%) involved cooking equipment. Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and knowing how to use it, can help you keep grease fires and other kitchen fires contained with minimal damage to your home. When you purchase a fire extinguisher, contact your local fire department for training on how to use the extinguisher, and remember the word PASS when using the equipment: Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you; aim low, pointing the extinguisher at the base of the fire; squeeze the lever slowly and evenly; sweep the nozzle from side to side. Related: 10 dos and don’ts to prevent home fires Be sure to protect children from inappropriate media content. (Photo: Shutterstock) 3. Take safety measures for TV and internet service. If you have young children in the home, making sure they cannot access dangerous media content through your television or internet service is essential. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, children between 8–18 spend an average of seven and a half hours a day using various forms of entertainment media, including TV and the internet, and the time spent interacting with various media surpasses all other activities, excluding sleep. Choosing the right TV package and using parental control software on computers and devices in the home can protect children from inappropriate content. Related: Top 10 smart home technologies for homeowners over 50 Protect young children from electic shock by covering all electirical outlets in your home. (Photo: Shutterstock) 4. Cover your outlets. When childproofing your home, one of the simplest solutions for a common danger is to cover electrical outlets in your home. American Academy of Pediatrics research shows that young children, particularly toddlers, most often experience electric shock when poking metal objects into unprotected outlets or appliances. Many more tips along these lines are covered in Safewise’s Room by Room Safety Guide. Related: 5 factors to minimize home-related risks Water damage can cause extensive and costly damage. (Photo: Shutterstock) 5. Use water detectors in rooms likely to flood. Water from both inside (plumbing leaks) and outside (flooding) the home can cause damage that is both severe and severely expensive to fix. The Insurance Information Institute found that the average damage claim was $7,958 for water damage, freezing, and mold between 2010 and 2014. Using water detectors in rooms likely to be affected can prevent large insurance claims and save money in the long run. Related: Have a backup generator? Make sure you do these 13 things Having working locks on your doors may seem like the simplest solution for home safety, but smart locks take that safety and protection to a whole new level. (Photo: Shutterstock) 6. Install smart locks. There is a wide range of smart locks available, from those where you still use a key to those that are entirely digital, operated through apps on your mobile phone. Through your mobile phone, provided you’re connected to the internet, you can make sure your home is locked even when you work down the road or you’re on vacation halfway across the world. Having working locks on your doors may seem like the simplest solution for home safety, but smart locks take that safety and protection to a whole new level. Related: Help clients protect their homes during the summer travel season Taking just a little time and effort makes a world of difference when it comes to the safety of your home, and the money you spend to keep your home safe far outweighs the cost, in the long run, of not taking these simple precautions. Sage Singleton is a home and community safety expert for SafeWise. She can be reached at sage.singleton@safewise.com.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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