Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season

Fall is the perfect time to start planning and preparing your home for the upcoming winter season. With winter comes significantly cooler temperatures and poor weather conditions (snow, ice and freezing rain). This affects your water systems, heating systems and your home’s energy efficiency. Preparing a few months ahead of time is the best way to plan for a disaster before it happens and keep your home and family safe. Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for the winter season.

Update your water systems. Winterizing your water systems is an important task that most homes require in some form. These water systems that should be dealt with include faucets, sprinkler systems and pools. A home in a mild climate may not need their faucets to be dealt with, however colder regions may need some attention. In this case, shut off the water system and then pull off any attachments. Open up drain valve and leave the faucet in the open position for the winter season. For your sprinkler system, turn off the automatic timers first. Then open the pressure valves and drain out water from any section that might freeze. Lastly, if you have a pool you will need to do a few things. This includes removing any loose parts, lowering the water level and draining the pumping system.

Check windows and doors for drafts. In order to keep your heating bill from going off the charts, it’s important to check your windows and doors for drafts. Make sure that the edges of windows and doors are properly sealed and that the caulking has no cracks, gaps or holes. If they do, seal them with new caulking.

Inspect and clean your fireplace. In the warmer months, fireplaces are rarely used. Once winter rolls around and the temperatures begin to cool down, it becomes a frequently-used item in the home. During the fall, you should inspect and clean out your fireplace to make sure there is no build-up of debris. This debris, creosote, builds up and could start a chimney fire when you least expect it. Wood and gas fireplaces should also be swept once a year before winter and inspected as a precaution. This is also a great time to check for any cracks in the brick or mantle and have those repaired as well. Lastly, clean up any smoke marks or discoloration for a nice and clean appearance.

Inspect your furnace. Having a professional come in to service your furnace before winter is a very smart idea. They will clean various parts, check for carbon monoxide leaks and make sure that everything is running smoothly. Every few months you should change the air filters to keep the furnace clean year-round.

How to Boost Your Home’s Security

Improving certain areas of your home can help it look more attractive or functional, but it also is a great way to increase the level of security in and outside of your home. One of the most common threats to your home is burglary, and since you can’t always be there to watch out for it, it’s important to take the proper precautions. Here are some easy and affordable options to help keep burglars out of your home.

Lock your windows. You would be surprised at how many people lock their doors but not their windows. Windows are another easy way for intruders to get into your home, so make sure to protect them with the proper locks. Closing blinds or curtains can also help prevent burglars from seeing any of your valuable items, such as purses or wallets, that are left in plain sight in your home.

Lock your doors. It is estimated that 81% of burglary offenses occur through the first floor of homes. This means that it’s more important than ever to make sure your primary and back doors are securely locked with the proper bolts, latches and guards. To instantly strengthen any door from being kicked in, add a deadbolt lock and a reinforced metal box strike. Don’t forget about your patio doors if you have them- some sliding doors can be lifted off their tracks, so an anti-lift device can help prevent this from happening.

Protect your indoor items. Even with all of the safety precautions in place on your windows and doors, your valuables inside your home are still at risk. Your home and office include drawers, cabinets, doors and mailboxes that contain private or personal information and belongings. Protect these items with drawer, cabinet and mailbox locks. Safes also are a great option for storing your valuables and keeping them protected from intruders or unfamiliar house guests.

Invest in an alarm system. This is a crucial step if you live in a high-crime neighborhood. Most alarm systems can be installed fairly quickly and are paid monthly. They help to increase the fear of being caught and will deter burglars from trying to enter your home. Alarm decals on your windows and signs on your lawn or outside of your home will increase this fear.

Befriend your neighbors. Your neighbors are a second set of eyes to watch your home when you aren’t there. After you’ve built trust and a friendship with them, establish some sort of system where they will watch your home for you while you are gone. On vacations or trips, have them pick up your mail, water your plants, etc. to show burglars that someone is watching the home.

 

Keeping Your Kitchen Safe for Children

magnetic cabinet lock

The kitchen is a place for cooking, eating and spending time with family and friends. However, these happy activities can turn into a disaster when poor safety comes into play. It”s important to keep your kitchen safe, especially if there are young toddlers and children in your home. The following tips and tricks will help to prevent any mishaps and continue to keep your home a safe and relaxing place.

An easy way to keep your kitchen safe is with locks. Locks prevent children from getting into items such as cleaning chemicals or sharp kitchenware. There are a variety of locks on the market today, many aimed at preventing children from getting into cabinets. There are even innovative options such as magnetic locks that are placed inside the drawer to keep the door tightly shut, preventing any pinched fingers from an attempted entry.

Slider stops are another item that can make your kitchen more secure. These prevent the cabinets from being pulled entirely out of the counter, resulting in items falling upon a child.

As simple as it sounds, making sure your cabinets and appliances are properly installed will also keep your kitchen safe. Loose screws can fall and end up in a child”s mouth and cabinets that aren”t properly secured can tip or break if a child tries to climb them or explore.

Having a toy bin in the kitchen with either kitchen toys or regular toys will provide children with a distraction. They are less likely to explore restricted cabinets if they have a cabinet or bin of their own to play with.

Moving hazardous items to top shelves is another simple way to prevent any mishaps. Rearranging the contents of your cabinets won”t take long and will benefit you in the long run.

Other options include safety gates, which help to prevent children from entering the kitchen or certain parts of the kitchen, and outlet covers to to prevent children from electrical hazards.