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Home Safety Tips | Protecting Against Floods | Swimming Pool Safety

Home Safety Tips

When it comes to safety, you are your home's first line of defense. There is a lot you can do to prevent fire and avoid accidents and injury.

General

  • Keep electrical and phone cords out of traffic paths and avoid putting them under furniture and rugs.
  • Check cords regularly and replace any that are damaged or frayed.
  • Do not attach electrical cords to walls or woodwork with nails or staples.
  • If you have to use extension cords, do not overload them.
  • Make sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant. If they are not, use carpet tape or rubber matting.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement and attic. Make sure they are in working order. For added protection, consider installing one in every bedroom. Test batteries monthly.
  • Make sure you have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. Place it close to bedrooms.
  • Check electrical outlets and switches on a regular basis. If they are warm or hot, there may be a problem. If you have small children, use safety plugs to cover outlets.
  • Use light bulbs that are the right size and type for the fixture.
  • Do not overload circuit breakers or fuses.
  • If you own a firearm, keep it unloaded and locked away. Keep shells in a different locked area.
  • Keep emergency supplies like flashlights, a first aid kit and emergency phone numbers close by.
  • Have an emergency escape plan in place before you need it.
  • Keep stairs and porch and deck railings well-maintained.

Kitchen

  • Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure you and other family members know how to use it.
  • Keep towels, curtains, combustibles and other things that can catch on fire away from the stove.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep electrical cords and appliances away from wet sink areas.
  • Whenever possible, use the back burners of your stove. Always keep pot handles turned to the back. Inspect pots and pans for loose handles.
  • If you have children, keep harmful products in their original package and out of reach. Use safety latches for drawers, cabinets and appliances.
  • Do not stand on furniture; use a step stool.

Living areas

  • If you have a chimney, clean it on a yearly basis.
  • Keep halls and doorways clear and well-lit.
  • Make sure stair railings are secure.
  • If you have young children, install safety gates to block the top and bottom stairways. Avoid accordion-style gates with large openings.
  • Keep furniture children can climb on, toys, and throw rugs away from glass doors and windows.
  • Check furniture for sharp edges, especially coffee tables and other short items.

Bedroom

  • Have a lamp or light switch near each bed.
  • Keep candles and ashtrays away from the bed. Do not smoke in bed.
  • Do not sleep with a heating pad on.

Bath

  • Dispose of unwanted or out-of-date medications. For disposal instructions, please refer to your state specific Department of Environmental Protection.
  • If you have children, keep medicine and cleaning supplies out of reach in safety containers. Use safety latches. Never leave a small child alone in the tub.
  • Keep electrical appliances unplugged and put away when you are not using them.
  • Use non-skid mats or abrasive strips in tubs and showers.
  • Set your water heater to no more than 120 degrees.

Garage and storage areas

  • Keep dangerous substances and flammable liquids in their original or well-labeled safety containers. Keep them out of children's reach. The latter holds true for tools and power equipment.

Outside

  • Safeguard swimming areas with adequate adult supervision, four-sided fencing, gates, and child-proof locks.
  • Install child car seats or booster seats correctly in the back seat of automobiles and use properly.
  • Anchor home playground equipment firmly in the ground; cover exposed bolts, screws or sharp edges with plastic cups or tape; install play equipment at least six feet from fences or walls and on soft or grassy ground.
  • Check your neighborhood for water hazards, construction, unfenced pools, irrigation canals, and storm drains before your children find them first.

Protecting Your Home Against Floods

You can't stop a flood, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your home. If you do not know already, find out if your home is in a flood-prone area. Your insurance agent can help you with this.

Next, make sure you have the right insurance. Homeowners policies do not include flood insurance. You need a separate policy, which is available through the Federal Government's National Flood Insurance Program.

In addition to insurance, there are other steps you can take that help minimize flood damage to your home – especially if you are building a new home or renovating an existing one.

  • Add waterproof veneer to the outside walls of your home. This can help reduce interior damage in areas where floods are generally two feet or less.
  • Keep your home's electrical systems at least 1 foot above the 100-year flood level.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. Unanchored tanks are easily moved by flood waters and can cause a lot of damage.
  • Elevate air conditioning and heating systems to upper floors or attics. If this is not possible, consider surrounding it with a concrete or masonry floodwall.
  • Install sewer line backflow valves. These help prevent sewer lines from backing up into the house in a flood.

Swimming Pool Safety

There is nothing better than a refreshing dip on a hot day. Keeping your pool a fun place for friends and family to gather, means making safety a priority. Here are some simple things to remember.

  • Enclose your pool with a secure fence that children can't climb over or squeeze through. Generally, fences need to be at least four feet high – but check with local code officials to get requirements in your area. Fence gates should be self-latching and self-closing with handles that are out of reach of small children.
  • Use non-slip material on decks and ladders. Steps on pool ladders should be at least three inches wide with handrails.
  • Do not leave children unattended.
  • Make sure people who use the pool are familiar with how deep it is. Injuries frequently result from diving or jumping into shallow water.
  • Do not drink and dip.
  • Be careful on ladders and the pool deck. They can be slippery.
  • Remove toys from the pool when kids are finished playing with them. This eliminates the temptation to reach in and get them.
  • Stay away from drains, grates and other coverings with openings. Small changes in pressure can create suction that can trap unsuspecting swimmers – especially small ones.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Make sure you have rescue equipment close to the pool.
  • Do regular pool maintenance. Check for sharp edges and loose bolts. Make sure ladders and drain covers are secure. Check electrical equipment regularly.
  • Consider alarms (underwater or surface) and pool safety covers if you have children.
  • Keep glass and electrical devices away from the pool area.
  • Stay out of the water in thunderstorms.