Some home maintenance tasks are obvious. When a lightbulb burns out, you've got to replace the lightbulb. But we forget about things like smoke alarms until one goes off or our heating and cooling system stops working. That's why we've created a home safety checklist to help you take proactive steps to avoid problems before they happen.
We assume we're safe at home, that injuries only occur outside our homes. While it's true that more injuries happen during sporting activities away from home, people do get hurt at home like my friend who broke her foot stepping out of the shower. Our home safety checklist focuses on inspecting and correcting problems to reduce injuries and other health issues.
Table of contents
Home Safety Products Every Home Needs
You know how many band aids you use so we won't try to tell you what should be in your first aid kit. Just know that they're always inventing new things like the liquid bandages my son is trying to get me to use … and they're waterproof!
Here are the basic home safety products every home needs.
|Have?||Product||Home Safety Checklist: Products for Every House|
|First Aid Kit(2)||Check this Red Cross list annually for recommended products and don't forget to put one in each car. Like the mini-CPR keychain with a breathing barrier … really.|
|Covid Cleaning Products||Now that we understand how easy it is to transmit viruses, add Covid cleaning products to your cleaning schedule.|
|Fire Extinguishers||With a home structure fire reported every 89 seconds, fire extinguishers (one for the house, a second one in the garage) help you control small fires before they get out of control. Make sure you buy extinguishers that work on all three types of fires (class A, B and C).|
|Water Shut Off Wrench||Every homeowner needs to know how to shut their main water supply off, and often it will require a special wrench which you should keep nearby.|
Safety Checklist to Avoid Tripping & Falls
Poor lighting is one of the most common reasons people fall. They simply don't see an uneven walkway or toys left on the stairs. And some people fall down stairs because they're carrying too much so they can't hold on to the handrail … that's me, LOL.
Here's how you can improve the lighting in your home (outdoors too) to reduce the risk of falls.
|Done?||What||Home Safety Checklist: Exterior Lights|
|House Numbers||Make sure your house number is easy for guests to read. Large reflective numbers make this easy (options on Amazon).|
|Exterior House Lights||Make sure all your outdoor lights are working, those used by your family and guests. Consider adding more lights and/or replace old fixtures with today's solar lighting fixtures.|
|Security Lighting||You can swap your exterior house lights to new, decorative motion sensor lights (adapter kits available) or add an LED motion sensor light over the garage.|
|Sidewalk & Driveway Lighting||Consider adding small lights along walkways and/or your driveway where people walk at night. There are lots of inexpensive solar choices that make these very affordable.|
See how motion sensor lighting has evolved from traditional flood lights (#1) to LED motion sensor lights (#2) and now these dusk to dawn coach light fixtures (#3) that turn on automatically. They're now on my shopping list.
How many times have you walked past a missing stone in the walkway or a large hole in your driveway? You might know where these problems lurk but what about your guests? Maybe it's time to identify and correct these problems before someone falls … please!
|Done?||What||Home Safety Checklist: Walkways, Driveways & More|
|Outdoor Walkways||Inspect and repair sidewalks where people walk, for anything that might cause someone to fall, especially when wet or covered by snow.|
|Driveways||Identify and repair cracks that may freeze and get larger. Consider using snow melt mats and driveway cables to melt snow and reduce slipping.|
|Outdoor Stairs||For locations with snow and freezing rain, use eco-friendly alternatives to salt as rock salt erodes concrete (lots of repairs done by my handyman business).|
We seldom notice how things accumulate in our homes day-to-day and it's hard to let go of things we might need in the future. That's why we often don't realize the tripping and falling hazards around us.
While my mother was in rehab, I had to prepare her apartment for a walker. That was a huge wakeup call because she'd lived there for 22 years. My mother had added bookcases in her hallways for storage … making them too narrow for a walker.
That's why I like to recommend visiting your home as a guest, sometimes one with a small child and other times a senior with a walker or wheelchair. This will help you identify small problems that can result in major accidents.
|Done?||What||Home Safety Checklist: Indoor Hallways & Stairs|
|Hallway Storage||Check hallways for things lying around like jackets, school backpacks, etc. Add baskets and hooks so everything has a home and won't cause someone to trip.|
|Hallway Clutter||Find new homes for furniture that narrows hallways to less than 36 inches. Dimensions.com says “A corridor with a width of 60 inches (5 feet) allows enough space to add furniture and for two people to comfortably walk.”|
|Handrails||Handrails are important on stairs, to keep people safe and here's why you should use them. So check them periodically to make sure they're secure, especially if you have young children playing on them.|
|Grab bars||Seniors need grab bars but they don't want to admit this. For older guests, it's probably time to install them (read: Where and When You Need Grab Bars).|
|Electrical Wires||Electronics are taking over our lives. Our homes weren't wired for all the new devices so we have too many power strips and some are in unsafe places where people can trip over a wire or the strip itself. Please find and fix these now.|
Safety Tips to Keep Indoor Air Healthy
When we talk about home safety, we can't ignore problems that make the indoor air we breathe unhealthy. This is critical because we're making our homes more airtight to reduce home heating/cooling costs without compensating for less air circulation.
Here are some of the most critical topics to learn about to keep your home's air healthy.
- Protecting Indoor Air Quality at Home – outlines the most common air quality problems in each room of your house. The article also offers tips for cleaning your home's air, along with links to government resources.
- Breathe Healthy INSIDE Your Home – is a new article that talks about the Air Quality Index that can be used to monitor air quality outside your home. This helps learn how the growing number of wildfires are affecting
- What We Touch in Our Homes – reviews the cleaning tips we learned during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. We've since learned that transmission is airborne but some of these tips will remain with us forever.
- How Mold Can Affect Your Health – provides an overview on mold in our homes, including how it occurs along with tips to prevent mold growth in our houses.
- Why Lead Paint is Everyone's Problem – provides some background on the history of lead paint and how it can affect the health of your family. If you have young children, this is a must read because of the serious problems (behavioral and educational) that will affect you and your children for their entire life.
Home Safety Tips to Prevent Fires
You might not know anyone who's dealt with a home fire but they really happen. There are more than a half million residential years each year to it's important for every homeowner (and renters too), to learn more about how you can prevent home fires. And that's why states have laws regulating the installation of smoke and CO alarms in homes.
Here are resources for you to review, that will help you create your personal home safety checklist.
- Protect Your Family from Fire – gives you a list of solutions that can help you deal with home fire emergencies, including an escape plan for your family. Found another great resource, How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan, from the National Fire Protection Association.
- FEMA's Fire Safety Checklist for Homeowners and Renters – offers tips on smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, cooking safely, electrical and appliance safety, and candle safety.
- Kidde Fire Safety – is a website that offers lots of information about home safety, along with products to make your home safer … from smoke detectors, to fire extinguishers and more.
Security Products to Keep Your Home Safe
Home security is becoming more important in the US as our world reacts to the pandemic and social unrest. The timing is good with many affordable products available to help you keep your home more secure. That's why we've included it here as security is an important component of any home safety checklist.
There are companies that do nothing but home security so I'm not going to pretend I have expertise in this area. I simply want to make you aware of the components involved in putting together a home security system for your home and family.
- PC Magazine's Best Smart Home Security Systems for 2021 provides a great overview of today's choices. It covers security cameras (interior and exterior), smart locks and video doorbells and do-it-yourself systems.
- What Smart Lighting Means – offers a glimpse into how various components of an electronic system connect. Like lights, security systems connect cameras, doorbells, motion sensors, door/window entry sensors and more.
- How Smart Homes with Automation Save Us Time & Money – explains how a home automation system can tie together various smart solutions for security, lighting and more, to give you one control point.
What's important to understand is when picking your first “electronic control system”, you'll ultimately want:
- Ability to integrate and manage all home systems from one dashboard.
- Maximum flexibility in the products you connect, so watch out for brand restrictions.
- To control what data is shared outside your home. Here's a recent article by the Washington Post, Amazon may be sharing your Internet connection with neighbors. Here’s how to turn it off, that illustrates how companies like Google can offer extremely low pricing … because they're gathering your personal information and that's part of the price you pay!