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Top Home Safety Tips for Homeowners

01/24/2018 Kristin Demshki

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The holiday season is a time of joy for many—but with extra people and extra responsibilities around the home, it’s easy to overlook certain safety measures. With the holiday season behind us, start thinking about how you can “holiday-proof” your home for the next get-together, including everything from proper food preparation to safe package deliveries!

Follow the easy, expert tips below to improve your home safety and ensure a happy, healthy holiday.

Home Safety: From Simple to High Tech

Enjoying a safe holiday season or get-together in your home starts before you hang a single decoration. From cleaning and organizing your home, to planning any new security upgrades, here are some great ways to keep you family and guests safe.

Simple Steps for Holiday Safety in the Home

Professional organizer Ben Soreff created House to Home Organizing to help his clients improve their quality of life. He recommends homeowners start planning by taking inventory of your home before you pull out your decorations.

One thing we see especially during the holidays are trip hazards due to clutter. We tend to see clutter build up on the stairs (the stairs to the basement are usually cluttered). Clutter doesn't just create trip challenges, clutter can lead to head trauma when it falls usually from a top closet shelf.

We want to first get our surfaces clear and our paths open, before even getting up the decorations. Think about where the tree will go and other large awkward decorations. It is not hypothetical—these items will be taking up space potentially blocking exits and covering heat sources or electrical outlets.

Additionally, think about if you will be having friends and family over before you place decorations. If kids are involved, there will be excitement and running around. Paths need to be clear. Remove items you won't be using in winter and store more remotely.
– Ben Soreff

Laurie Brown is a veteran green cleaning expert and entrepreneur who opened one of the country's first eco-friendly stores. Today, as the CMO of Earthstone International, she reminds homeowners that keeping their guests safe also includes how they clean their home.

Safety around the home during the holidays is important for everyone, but it's even more so for those with children. Often there are the more obscure and obvious things that are easily overlooked as potential safety hazards as we all rush to get everything done in time.

While many will be concerned about electrical issues for festive displays and Christmas tree lights, heavy objects placed in volatile places or the fire threat of burning candles, your first thought about holiday safety should really start early on with what you use to do your holiday cleaning!

Every year, 87,700 children alone are treated in hospital emergency rooms—and on average 39 children die every year—after unintentionally ingesting toxic household chemicals like hydrochloric acid found in many products to clean the toilet bowl, for example. That's why there's always a DANGER warning on these product labels.

Holiday safety should include non-life-threatening but effective cleaning practices using non-toxic cleaning products for everything from your oven and toilet bowl to your BBQ grill, especially if you're using it to cook a turkey, ham, fish or veggies as many do this time of year.
– Laurie Brown

New Tech Can Make for a Safer Home

Anu Herranen is a product marketing, strategy and branding professional with years of experience in smart devices. As the Director of Marketing and Branding at Nortek Security & Control, she has several tech-based home security tips for homeowners.

It’s important to make sure that your fire safety is up to date. Check your smoke detector and CO2 detector by checking batteries at least monthly, and operational soundness also before the holidays. Many smart home and home security companies, like Nortek Security & Control, enable smartphone notifications—alarm triggers when there is an alert and instantly pushes notifications to your phone. Those features are even more important when travelling and when the house is empty.

Winter holidays are also a good reason to upgrade your security system, whether you are staying at home or traveling. Also consider your elderly relative or your college student when they leave their house/apartment empty for the holidays. The options today are easier to both install and use for multiple needs and life situations.

Most of the systems are wireless, which enables you to add and complement your system later with digital doorbell cameras or electronic locks, and some systems, like NSC’s 2GIG Rely, are designed to be mobile so you can take the security system with you when you move.Many people utilize Amazon type of delivery services nowadays for easy and carefree Christmas shopping, but porch side thefts are increasingly common. Digital doorbells are a great way to make sure that you know when a package arrives, and you can even advise the delivery man to store the package in a safe place.
– Anu Herranen

Home Safety in the Kitchen

Many of our biggest celebrations and favorite holidays involve food. Whether it is a special dessert or a huge turkey, special dishes prepared at home are common. You might not think of these activities as being risky, but they can be dangerous, particularly when surrounded by the distractions of holiday guests and activities.

John Espenschied, the Agency Principal and Owner with Insurance Brokers Group in St. Louis, Missouri, has more than 18 years of personal and commercial insurance industry experience. He reminds homeowners that festive holiday decor (and dinners) can have risks that may not seem obvious at first, but are easy to avoid with the proper precautions.

Most home fires occur during the winter months, so keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves or candles unattended. Don’t use generators, grills or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.

When it comes to kitchen safety, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness as you prepare holiday meals. Make sure to wash hands and surfaces often. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. Make sure to cook foods to the proper temperature and do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
– John Espenschied

Bob Gordon, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Boulder, Colorado, is an Accredited Buyer Representative and Certified Residential Specialist. His best holiday home safety tips include taking care in the kitchen; extra caution will make sure that no one gets hurt or misses dessert this year.

In the kitchen, when baking with little ones, be careful with mixers. When I was a kid, my sister leaned over a mixing bowl and her hair was snagged. It happened so quickly and was terrible.

Another time, someone left a [stove] burner turned on. And then my mom placed a pie to cool on that same burner. The resulting explosion of glass ejected blueberry filling everywhere, much like a volcanic explosion. Mixed with glass. On both occasions, no dessert.
– Bob Gordon

Enjoy a Safe Home All Year Long

Decorating your home, preparing a special meal, and enjoying the festive atmosphere with your loved ones is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Take the time to plan ahead with a few simple precautions, and you will enjoy these memorabletimes safely.

Do you need more space to safely accommodate all your holiday guests? If you are ready to start looking for a new home for your family, contact a PennyMac Loan Officer today.

The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PennyMac Loan Services, LLC and its employees.