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House Tour – Surviving Your Home

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02/01/2012 - Over the next few months, taking us to the unofficial start of summer, we will take a 'house tour.' The purpose of this tour is to identify common, yet oftentimes hidden, hazards that we encounter every day inside our 'castle' walls and yet, continue to stay alive by somehow avoiding mayhem and death.

The tour begins with a general hazard overview around the house. As you enter your front door, what do you see? Is the entry way clear of obstacles and toys or do you have to walk into the house with both eyes peeled to the floor to avoid skates, balls, the dog, or other trip and fall hazards? Check to see if there is enough lighting at the door and easily accessible inside the door as you enter. You may want a motion-type sensor switch so the room or entry light comes on as you enter. If it is also light-sensitive, it will only come on when it is dark so you can just leave it on.

Head for the kitchen and see if you can quickly locate the kitchen fire extinguisher and that you can actually get to it without removing half your closet of clothes hanging from it. Look to ensure the gauge is 'in the green,' fully charged and ready to go. Look up and make sure your smoke alarm is in place and working. Uh-oh – you don't have a fire extinguisher or smoke alarm in the kitchen? Get one for under $20 and call your insurance carrier to say that you have one. It could give you a discount on your homeowner's insurance.

Do you have leftovers on the counter or some in the refrigerator you can no longer identify? Toss them! Don't forget to look under the sink to see how easily your three-year-old or dog can access all of your toxic goodies; then either relocate them elsewhere or find a way to secure your floor-level cabinet door to keep kids and pets out of there.

The living area should be free of multiple-plug extension cords, cables, candles, or 'stuff' around your electric baseboard heat. Do you walk through the house still wearing your shoes? If so, what might you be carrying onto your carpet fibers from work or out on the street? Kids should be positioned at least three feet back from the television and check the volume to ensure you are not causing deafness in the family.

Moving on to the most popular part of the house – the bathroom – check to see if you have a secure bath mat near the tub rather than just slippery wet flooring when you step out of the tub or shower. You should have GFCI electrical receptacles so you won't get electrocuted plugging in the hair blower or shaver and don't forget to push the 'test' button from time to time to make sure it actually works.

From here we'll take a closer look at each room. See you next time.

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