Ensuring Your Home against a Fire

Fire safety is something that you should be prepared for at all times of the year but as we get into the winter season, and some of the coldest months of the year, it’s important to be vigilant about protecting our families and our home.

Our home is filled with loved ones and personal belongings that often time carry a sentimental value so safeguarding what’s closest to us should start from the moment you move in. During the final walkthrough with your realtor, test and make sure the smoke alarms in the residence you’re about to close on are working.

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Owners of one-and two family residences must have installed in their home a working smoke detector that provides an audible alarm within each sleeping area. This sound provides an early warning to those sleeping that there is a fire and a greater chance of getting out of the home immediately. It is a requirement for every home in New York State.

Did you know that if a fire starts you have less than two minutes to get out safely? In such a short amount of time you have to be ready to spring into action and one of the ways to do so safely without wasting a moment is to already have a fire escape plan in place that has been practiced on a regular basis. Once you move into your new home, formulate that plan early on and make sure everyone is prepared in the event a fire breaks out.

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Escape Plan

  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • A closed door can stop the spread of gas, heat and smoke.
  • Have a meeting place outside your home.
  • Know how to call 9-1-1 from outside to report a fire.
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone who lives in your home at least twice a year

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While there are many different reasons why fires break out here are the top five:

  • Kitchen – Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. It takes only seconds for a pot or a pan to overheat and grease to splatter. Most kitchen fires start because people get distracted; never leave an open flame unattended.
  • Heating Equipment – Have your furnace checked annually and if your home has a fireplace, make sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected. During the colder months many people use portable space heaters; these can be dangerous if used improperly. Keep them away from anything that can burn and never use them to dry clothes or shoes.
  • Smoking – If you must smoke, try and do it outside. Your bedroom should be off limits; how many times do you get drowsy, just lying in bed, watching TV. A lit or improperly extinguished cigarette is dangerous. And never put an ashtray on or near anything that will burn.
  • Electrical equipment – With all of the gadgets and electronics that are out there these days it’s easy to overload outlets with plugs; do not overuse extension cords. Also, be careful of do-it-yourself electrical projects. Sometimes it’s best to leave those in the hands of a professional electrician. And check to ensure your appliances do not have loose or frayed cords/plugs.
  • Candles – Who doesn’t love the smell of a scented candle! But they be dangerous if not used properly. Keep all candles on a level surface in a sturdy holder away from combustible materials and out of the reach of children and pets.

Remember… only working smoke detectors save lives.

  • TEST your smoke detectors at least once a month. Push the test button or blow smoke into the detector.
  • CLEAN your detectors at least once a year to remove dust.
  • REPLACE the battery every year. Better yet, twice a year – when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. Replace the smoke detector after 10 years.

9 Tips For Summer Security While On Vacation

Departing the city shouldn’t lead to parting ways with your prized possessions. Here’s our guide to keeping your home safe so you can be on vacation with good faith – thanks to Oprah and Independent Traveler.

150604 - unplugUnplug to unwind
Disconnect appliances. Unplug all appliances, large and small.

Travel lightly
Leave your lights on timers. Timed lighting in main living areas simulates occupancy. Consider connecting your home to Nest or Lutron so lights, television and music can be switched on by tapping your smartphone to outsmart the curious.

150604 - answerLeave the city, not a trail
Don’t broadcast your absence. A burglar can easily be tipped off to your absence by social media posts, detailed out-of-office email messages and an unanswered phone. Turn off your home phone ringer and keep your everyday answering message in play – not one that says you’re on vacation.

Leave blinds and curtains in their usual positions wherever possible, taking care not to expose valuables that’ll attract prying eyes. Noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore – especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks. Move expensive items, like jewellery or computers, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.

I-D your valuables
It’s not just your jewellery and tech gadgets you need to keep safe – it’s your paperwork too. Potential burglars already know your address so a few other important documents could complete the puzzle for them to steal your identity too. Shred any bills and receipts you no longer need. Unplug your computer and make sure it’s disconnected from the Internet.

Close up of a security alarm keypadArmed with an alarm
Activate your alarm system and be sure to notify the home security company of your days away and provide interim contact information.

Lock. Lock. Who’s there?

Ensure that all windows and doors are securely locked before you leave for vacation. This may sound elementary, but all it takes is one of them ajar to welcome an intruder and threaten home security.

150604 - mailFriendly favors
Ask a friend to drive by your home every other day to check in. With a copy of your keys, they can bring your mail in (unless you’ve requested for mail to be stopped), feed your pet/s, water your plants and more. You may also need to give them your car keys to move your car for street cleaning and alternate side parking. They should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies. If you have more than one watcher – keep them in contact so that one doesn’t accidentally startle the other.

Outside matters
Plan maintenance. Have your outdoor services covered. Mowing and manual watering will prevent overgrowth and faded plantings that could give away your absence.