Important Tips for Home Safety

​[Pool & Deck Safety] [Grill Safety] [Safe Exit] [Electrical Cords] [Fire Safety]

Important Tips for Backyard Safety

Pool & Deck Safety

  1. Make sure all gates on the isolation fence for your pool are self-closing and self-latching.
  2. Remove all chairs, tables, large toys or other objects that would allow a child to climb up or reach the gate latch or enable the child to climb over the pool isolation fence.
  3. Reaching and throwing aids like poles should be kept on both sides of the pool.  The items should remain stationary and not be misplaced through play activities.
  4. All pool and hot-tub drains (suction outlets) must have a cover or gate that meets industry standards for suction fitting marked to indicate compliance with ANSI/ASME a112.19.8 2007.  Check to see that these covers are not broken or in disrepair, and that they are anchored firmly over the drain openings.
  5. Install a pool alarm to detect accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water.  While the alarm provides an immediate warning, it does not substitute for the fences, door alarms and safety covers required by the code.
  6. Install either an automatic or manually operated, approved safety cover to completely block access to water in the pool, spa or hot tub.  Never allow anyone to stand or play on a pool cover.
  7. Check for warning signs for an unsafe deck, including loose or wobbly railings or support beams, missing or loose screws that connect a deck to the house, corrosion, rot and cracks.

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Grill Safety

  1. Place the BBQ grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.  It is also unsafe to use grills in a garage, porch or enclosed area that could trap carbon monoxide (CO).  Never grill on top of anything that can catch fire.
  2. When grilling, have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose or at least 4 gallons of water close by in case of a fire.
  3. Keep children away from fires and grills.  Establish a safety zone around the grill and instruct the children to remain outside the zone.  A chalk line works great for this purpose.  Never leave the grill unattended.

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Make a Safe Exit

During a home emergency, such as a fire, it is important that all occupants are able to get out -- and emergency personnel are able to get in -- as quickly and easily as possible.

Safe Exit Paths and Passages:

  • Keep hallways clear of obstructions.
  • Do not block or obstruct emergency escape windows and doors.
  • Make sure all family members know how to unlock and open windows and doors.
  • Be sure window security bars release from the inside in case of emergency.
  • Develop and practice a fire escape plan.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, it takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to burn completely out of control and turn into a major fire.  Within minutes, a house can fill with thick, black smoke and become engulfed in flames.  Building safety codes designate minimum window and hallway sizes so occupants will be able to get out in case of emergency, and provide access to first responders to get in.   Contact your local building safety department for more information.

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Electrical Cord Safety

Don't let electrical cords create a danger in your house!

Overloaded outlets and undersized electrical cords can cause a fire or electrocution danger.

Use Electrical Cords Safely:

  • Never overload electrical cords or power strips.  Be sure the total amount of energy used by appliances plugged into the strip does not exceed that capacity.
  • Use only listed power strips that have integral overload protection and have been tested by a product safety laboratory.
  • Do not use appliances that have damaged cords.
  • Extension cords should not be used as a substitute for permanently wired outlets.

Electrical cords must have the proper wire size for the load they serve.  Overloaded cords will become hot and can start a fire.  Avoid permanent use of extension cords.  Appliance cords and extension cords are susceptible to physical damage from foot traffic, furniture, house pets, swinging doors and many other causes, so protect them from damage. 

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Fire Safety and Awareness

  1. Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and room and on each level of your home.
  2. Practice an escape plan for every room in the house.  Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from the fire and never to open doors that are hot.  Select location where everyone can meet after escaping the house.  Get out then call for help.
  3. When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased.  Sprinklers are affordable -- they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
  4. Test your alarm each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
  5. Portable heaters need their space.  Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  6. Install noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on attic/soffit vents and around elevated wood decks to keep out embers.  Install approved or listed spark arrestors on chimneys of solid fuel or liquid burning appliances.
  7. Consider installing protective shutters or heave fire-resistant drapes.
  8. Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  9. Maintain a "defensible" space around your home by clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around all structures.  Clear dead leaves and branches to leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees.
  10. Plan fire prone trees and shrubs sway from your home and far enough apart so they won't ignite one another.

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Combustion Air

Don't let your Gas Appliances Starve for Air!

Gas appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers, need plenty of air to operate safely.  Otherwise they will produce excessive, deadly carbon monoxide (CO).  Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and toxic, which means you can't see, taste or smell it.  It causes headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.  Carbon monoxide can kill, so be sure to maintain you gas appliances.

Safely Operate Your Gas-Fired Appliances:

  • Schedule an annual appliance inspection, cleaning and tune-up by a qualified specialist.
  • Have vents and chimneys inspected by a qualified expert at least once a year.
  • Have a technician check the combustion air provisions for your appliance.
  • Store combustibles and flammables far away from gas appliances.

Building safety codes require specific venting sizes and combustion air provisions for gas appliances to ensure safe operation.  Contact your local gas company or building safety department for more information.

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Disaster Safety and Mitigation

  1. Develop a family action plan and share with everyone in your family, so you will know where to go if an evacuation is called.  Review at least two exit routes from your home or neighborhood to a designated meeting place for your family.  Plan ahead for your pets as many shelter will not accept them.
  2. Create a disaster supply kit that will allow you to remain in your home after a disaster or for use after evacuation to a safer location.  Be sure the necessities in your kit are fresh and restored every six months.
  3. Stay tuned to radio, TV and NOAA Weather Radio for official updates and critical life saving weather information.  Remember, reception is usually best if placed near a window.
  4. Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters.  never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads.  Do not attempt o cross a flowing stream.  It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.
  5. If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, temporarily protect you doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 5/8" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place.  Visit for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board up.
  6. Secure lawn furniture and any other loose outdoor items that can become windborne and can cause injury or damage during storms with high winds.  Don't forget trash cans, grills, toys and potted plants.
  7. Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado safe room in your home.  Follow ICC/NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.
  8. Use Surge Protection Devices (SPD) in your home to protect electronic appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges or direct strikes.  The devices should be installed to afford the highest level of protection.
  9. In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire.  Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks and walkways. 
  10. Before a winter storm, insulate all exposed water pipes outside the home.  It is important to allow a slow trickle of water to flow during a winter freeze especially of the faucet is on an exterior wall.  Remember, wrap and drip your pipe for the ultimate protection in a freeze.

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Courtesy of ICC Foundation