Home Safety Concerns

Falls, fires, poisoning, suffocation, and drowning are the leading source of accidents and death in homes. Shocks and electrocutions are potentials that have been reduced through improvements to household appliances and electrical systems.

Exterior:

  • Legible and lighted house numerals. Emergency equipment cannot easily locate properties with hidden or missing numerals.
  • Staircases and steps do more harm and injury than any other item in a home. Proper tread widths and riser heights with proper handrails.
  • Trip hazards from loose and worn carpeting. These should have non-slip backings, especially in bath areas
  • Walkways and patios need to have no rapid changes in elevation to form a trip hazard. Ideally walkways and steps should have a light source.
  • Stoops and steps should have appropriate handrails and proper tread width & riser heights. All exits should have a switched lighting source. Exit doors and storm doors should never swing outward nor “sweep” the step area.
  • Use ladders safely in all instances
  • Keep yard care equipment properly maintained and store gasoline in ventilated places in proper containers
  • Decks are often hazardous due to the lack of required permits. Decks are to be properly attached and supported with proper railings having no lateral rails and no rail or stair openings wider than 4 inches.
  • By using a 2X4 block of wood the garage door openers should be tested monthly. Place the block below where the door touches the floor. The door is to have two seconds from touching the block to reverse. There should be a warning label at the control switch and the switch should be at least 60 inches above the floor.
  • Garage door springs should have a safety cable within the spring. If the door has an electronic eye sensor, that sensor is to be no higher than six inches above the floor.
  • Attached garages should have no openings through the separation walls. Garage entrance doors are never to have glass. Garage floors are to slope to the exterior.
  • Retaining walls should not be failing and should have railings if more than 4 feet tall
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs should have appropriate fences with self-latching gates
  • Doors and windows should have appropriate locks and latches.
  • Gas grills and BBQ equipment must be used appropriately and safely with proper clearances from combustibles and siding.
  • Gutters need to be maintained and properly sized to reduce overflows and mold potentials
  • Siding materials should never be below soil and all material changes should be flashed or sealed weather tight
  • On wooded lots have the trees evaluated by a consulting arborist periodically and prune dead timber
  • Do not allow water to pool around the exterior of foundations otherwise a wet or flooding basement or crawlspace may/will result
  • Crawlspaces should have a reasonable access, have reasonable clearances, have a vapor barrier, a shielded lighting source, and proper ventilation
  • TV (and other type) antennas should be properly grounded re lightning potential

Interior:

  • Know the locations of main water valves, gas valves, and electrical disconnects
  • Keep poisons and cleaning chemicals properly stored and secured
  • Have a pest control evaluation at least every three years looking for WDO
  • In older homes evaluate for asbestos, lead paint, etc
  • Protect glass areas that are close to a floor elevation and confirm safety (tempered) glass is in all necessary locations such as shower stalls and bathtubs
  • Staircases once again with proper hand and guard rails, proper tread depth, riser heights, proper head clearances, sufficient lighting and be 36 inches wide. Stair landings are supposed to have a minimum of 9 SF of landing surface.
  • Keep flammables away from water heaters and furnaces
  • Appropriate fire stopping is needed at floor and wall penetrations
  • Have all combustion equipment e.g. water heaters, furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc cleaned and adjusted annually. Each year people suffer illness and death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Have the ductwork and vent ducting cleaned at least every five years for respiratory health
  • Keep the heated water set no higher than 125° maximum
  • Test homes for Radon. Keep Smoke detectors on each level with active batteries. If there are fossil fuel appliances have Carbon Monoxide detectors in use. Test the devices at least monthly to assure proper operation and keep them clear of obstructions and occlusions.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in garages, carports, automobiles, basements, and kitchen areas
  • Homes with electric baseboard or portable heating of any sort should have proper clearances from combustible materials
  • Flue pipes are to have proper clearances from combustible materials and have a proper pitch to prevent spillage. Fireplace and wood stove flues should be swept and evaluated regularly, usually after each cord of burned wood.
  • Furnaces are to have redundant safety switches. Oil appliances are to have remote shut off switches.
  • Gas fired furnaces, water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers are to have proper shut off valves
  • Gas and oil fired furnaces and water heaters must have proper air sources
  • Attic level heating and cooling systems must have proper access, service platforms, and overflow pans if used for cooling. The equipment and pan need appropriate drains
  • Stairways and hallways should have proper light switches.
  • Electrical panels are to be fully accessible. The circuit directories are to be accurate. There are certain panel manufacturers that have known defects and should be replaced. Panel and service amperages ideally should be matched. Ideally the panel should have only one main switch to shut off all power.
  • Houses having aluminum branch circuit (120Volt) wiring need special outlets and switches. It is recommended by the CPSC that this type of wiring be improved through the use of Copalum high-pressure splices, never by pigtailing.
  • Licensed electricians should be the only ones to ever install power generators. Temporary units are very hazardous because they can electrocute a lineman unless properly used
  • Test Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFI) circuit breakers and outlets at least monthly
  • Never use worn or old extension cords and never place any cord below carpeted areas. Extension cords should never be used with motorized devices such as sump pumps, garage door openers, refrigerators/freezers, or clothes washers.
  • Bath switches should never be on a “wet wall”
  • Bathroom, kitchen, and laundry faucets should have hot on the left and cold on the right and should shut off properly.
  • Bathroom, kitchen, and laundry areas should have proper non-slip floor surfaces. Keep all bath areas sealed water tight.
  • Bathroom, kitchen, and laundry areas should have proper ventilation and/or fans
  • Upper level laundry areas should have overflow pans for the washing machines and preferably with a gravity drain
  • Attic fold or pull down type stair access hatches need to be properly anchored and installed.
  • Anyone walking in an unfloored attic must keep their feet on solid lumber.
  • Attic area should have proper and effective ventilation
  • Kitchen appliances should be properly anchored and dishwashers should have proper drain connections with a vent gap
  • Keep clothes dryer vents and lint screens clean. Plastic vents are fire hazards. Bath and dryer vents cannot be interconnected. Bath and dryer vents are to discharge to the atmosphere. Both have a maximum run distance, the shorter the better.
  • Homes with sump pumps should have stand-by pumps available
  • Sewage ejector pumps should have alarm systems and a stand-by pump available