10 Ways To Make Your Home Safer For Older Family Members

You want to have a home that is seen as a place of refuge by all members of the family, regardless of age. As our loved ones age, you will need to make some changes to how your spaces are laid out to keep everybody happy, healthy, and safe. Whether you are preparing your home for the coming of elderly family members or just want to ensure that their visits are enjoyable, there are simple and easy updates you can make to ensure security.

One of the most common issues that ageing people face is limited mobility. Thus, when revising your home, you should focus on home safety measures that also preserve their independence. Here are 10 tips on upgrading your house to make each room senior-friendly.

  1. Secure all your rugs

Use grip tapes or non-slip backings to secure area rugs to their place. There are plenty of affordable solutions that are a breeze to install. In addition to ensuring that your rugs don’t move, gel-based grippers also help in keeping them from curling or running. These items can be reactivated using water if you need to remove it temporarily when cleaning. Gel grippers are a popular choice for backing loose rugs because they do not leave residue and marks on the floor. They also work on rugs that are placed on top of carpeting.

  1. Replace or fix dangerous flooring

Elderly members usually drag their feet when walking and have balance issues. Thus, slick surfaces like tiles and hardwood, as well as high-pile carpets, are a huge no-no. These potentially hazardous elements can cause slips and falls. If your parents or grandparents are moving to your home, you might want to redo your risky floors. Replace carpets with low-pile varieties and take note of the slip rating of certain floor materials to ensure that those areas that see high traffic are as safe as can be.

  1. Make the stairs easier to climb

Avoid stair-related accidents by adding elements to your stairs that add extra grip. You can install grip tape to bare stairs. There are also non-slip mats that work nicely on the steps with or without carpeting. If an elderly family member is moving in, it is unavoidable that he or she uses the stairs. If your budget permits, you can install a stair-assist chair or stair lifts with adjustable seats to help make going up and down so much easier and faster for the seniors.

  1. Make passageways well lighted

Ideally, senior citizens will not have to climb and down the stairs. If you have a spare room at the ground level or can convert your TV room to accommodate guests, that’s where they should be. In any case, you must provide adequate lighting on all staircases, hallways, and passageways so they can clearly see where they are going, even without glasses on. You can install motion sensor lighting that turn on only when movement is detected. These types of lights are easy to install and will not put a huge dent on your electricity bill.

  1. Install hand rails and grab bars

Handrails and grab bars are two of easiest ways to boost your home’s safety for elderly members. Hallways, stairs, bathrooms, and even bedrooms should have these because it will help keep the seniors moving around more securely. Grab bars are made of different materials and can accommodate varying weights. They provide additional stability in the shower, in the bath, near the toilet, or anywhere else. They are also easy to install at any angle of your choosing.

  1. Add a shower bench to bath

A shower stool or bench lets your elderly members enjoy a bath independently while lowering the risk for slips and falls. Many bench models can stand on their own in the bathroom, but a transfer bench provides added security as the user gets inside or exits the shower. Before buying a bench, check first its maximum weight capacity to ensure that your senior family member is accommodated safely. This bench is also useful for individuals with limited mobility or those just recovering from an injury or surgery.

  1. Change the tub to a walk-in type

If your elderly family member is staying for an indefinite period (or permanently) you might want to consider upgrading your regular bathtub to a walk-in type. It also affords your loved ones a safe and convenient way to bathe independently. Before buying a new tub, make sure that is compliant with the guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Walk-in bathtubs are also great for the rest of your household.

  1. Install bed rails

Bed rails assist elderly members as they get in and out of the bed. There are plenty of accessory options in the market, most of which are very easy to install. Most rails are simply fit between mattresses and box springs. Some even come with pockets to hold magazines, books, or anything else that seniors need to have on hand. Bed rails are also useful for people with limited mobility who need to change sleeping positions on their own. Whether it’s installed for permanent support or as a temporary acessory following a surgery, this will help ensure safety during bedtime.

  1. Install a security system

It might seem too much, but you can’t really go wrong with the added comfort that you and your elderly family members need. There are security systems that project videos in real time to your smartphone so you can check on your loved ones anytime you want. You can also pre-set the system to send out alerts in case somebody unexpectedly leaves your home or steps on the yard. Security devices are particularly useful if your senior members are prone to wandering off or have memory loss problems.

  1. Use home automation

An automated home is not just for your convenience, it also helps secure your elderly members. For example, a smart thermostat controller can automatically adjust the air conditioner or heater to keep your loved ones comfortable. Automated lights can also be remotely operated or pre-set to turn off and on at specific times of the day. If you’re unsure what type of home automation device to get, you can start with simple systems that offer both temperature and lighting features to turn your home into a safer space for everyone.

Overall, keeping your home safe is crucial if you have elderly family members. Set your home up to make them feel welcome and calm by taking into consideration the kinds of assistance they need. Start by applying simple home upgrades and then you can decide to fully automate next time as you get more accustomed to the technology.

8 Ways To Ensure Your Kitchen Is Safe

With all the cutting tools, flames, and scalding hot grease that is common to kitchens, it is not surprising that government safety boards list it as the most dangerous room in the household. Every year, emergency rooms log thousands of Americans rushed to the hospital because of kitchen-related injuries. This is why it is imporant for you to put safety measures in place to protect you and your family. Whether you’re a veteran chef or a budding Martha Stewart, the safety tips we will discuss here will give you sound advice on preventing accidents from happening to you.

You don’t want to be the ER’s next kitchen injury statistic. Here are eight ways to ensure that it is a safe space.

  1. Practice Claygo

Clean up immediately everytime you prepare anything in the kitchen, whether it’s a full meal or just a bowl of cereal. If you have kids in the house, or even just clumsy people, it’s very easy to spill something. When it does happen, be sure to wipe the mess up immediately to prevent an accident. Even a small spill or a bit of food presents a risk of falls. Oil and grease are equally dangerous. Make Claygo, or clean-as-you-go, a habit and make sure the rest of the household practices that, as well.

  1. Understand how fire works

Fires are exacerbated with exposure to oxygen, so don’t fan it out or expose it to air even more. What works instantly is smothering it with a pot cover or a wet rag. If you’re facing a fire caused by grease, covering the pan, or putting salt or baking soda will put it out. Never ever use water to put out kitchen fires. If it happens in the microwave, you can manage it by pulling the plug. If it’s in the oven, you can use baking soda or, if you have one, a fire extinguisher.

  1. Believe in the power of your fire extinguisher

The fire extinguisher is probably the most important part of your kitchen, so you don’t downplay its role. In fact, all kitchens should have one. There are smaller fire extinguishers that are suited for small kitchen use. It’s doubly important that you also know how to use it. Don’t just put it on display and not bother to learn how to operate it. Store it in a space that can be easily accessed in the event of an emergency.

  1. Test your smoke detector

According to the US Fire Administration, households that do not have smoke detectors installed have a higher chance of catching fire — and most of these accidents start in the kitchen. The USFA records more than 150,000 fires related to cooking mishaps. Having smoke detectors (that work) is one major step towards early detection and prevention. Some smoke detection systems are built into security systems so why not get the full deal, right? Detectors should also be tested every three months to check their viability.

  1. Be cautious with your accessories and clothes

Your clothes and accessories are a potential fire hazard. Long sleeves, scarves, and long hair can catch fire, jewelry can get caught on handles, and belts can pull cooking pans off the stove. When you’re in the kitchen, pay attention to what you’re wearing and make sure nothing’s hanging loosely. Pan handles should also be turned so they don’t accidentally get caught in your clothes or grabbed your kids or pets.

  1. Steam is very dangerous

Statistics show that over 100,000 emergency room cases in the US are related to scald burns every year. This involves boiling water, hot beverages, faucets with hot features, and even steam. Usually steam isn’t seen as a hazard, but it can actually burn you badly. It’s effect is more severe than freshly boiled water.

When you lift the lid of a pot of boiling water or pull the wrap or cover off something that’s just been microwaved, be very careful. Let members of the family know too. Microwave popcorn is delicious, but they shouldn’t be too quick to open that bag and make sure the opening is facing away from them when they strip it off.

  1. Sanitize everything

In addition to accidents, germs are the biggest threat in the kitchen. Because of the moisture and varying food stuff that go through your kitchen on a daily basis, it is actually a haven for bacteria to thrive (more than any other space in your house). To make sure that your kitchen is not just squeaky clean but also sanitized, clean surfaces with a water and bleach solution as often as you can. There are also organic and environment friendly solutions available to be safer. Cutting boards should be cleaned after each use, while sponges and dishwipes should be replaced often.

  1. Keep children and pets out

Kids enjoy whipping up meals with their parents. To avoid injury, you must orient them properly with the risks for injury. It’s okay to play around in the kitchen, but when there’s something cooking, young children should be kept as far away as possible. Take note that ovens, toasters and the other heating appliances don’t cool down immediately and can present a danger to both children and pets. To be sure, just declare the kitchen as a “no pet zone” or “no kids zone.”

Installing Alarms & Smart Systems

Of course, you can’t always control what goes on in the kitchen, so having a smart home monitoring system can help. It can let you know immediately if there is a change in tempeature, if there’s a fire starting, and if there are restricted doors or drawers being opened. It can even send you alerts if small children are wandering off that space unsupervised. In addition to get alerts in real-time, you can also install cameras so you can get a visual of what’s going on as it happens, even if you’re at the office.

Overall, while having a 100% safe kitchen is not really possible, there are measures that you can set in place to make the risk of accidents and injury a lot smaller. Having precautionary systems installed plus the ability to visually monitor what’s going is important, especially if you have small children, elderly family members, pets, or are generally forgetful.

5 Most Common Household Poisons & What You Can Do To Prevent Them

There is one poison exposure incident reported in the US every 15 seconds which translates to over 2 million cases every year, according to a study by the American Association of Poison Control. That number does include the around 56,000 animal poisoning incidents in the same time frame. This number is huge, but it is not really surprising. Majority of homes contain daily-use products that pose a toxic threat to both humans and animals. When these things are not properly stored, accidental poisoning is bound to happen.

Here is a list of 5 most common household poisons and what you can do to prevent them from hurting you and your loved ones. Do not that there are many other usual everday products that can pose a danger to both human and animal health. So if you do suspect poisoning, it’s always best to call emergency services right away.

  1. Cleaning products

Most cleaning materials contain a range of chemicals that can be accidentally ingested by a curious pet or toddler. Two of the most common ingredients are hydrochloric acid (usually from tub and tile cleaners) and sodium hydroxide (also called lye, usually from oven and drain cleaners). Because they are almost always used, people tend to leave them exposed to make them quicker to access. However, you should know that even inhaling these products can lead to poisoning.

Symptoms of chemical poisoning can vary depending on the type of product. Toilet bowl cleaners, for example, can cause severe abdominal pain, burns in the esophageal lining, and blood in the stool. Drain or oven cleaner poisoning can manifest through difficulty breathing, mouth burns, excessive drooling, and eventually collapse. In the event of accidental ingestion, have the person drink either milk or water immediately, then seek medical help at once.

To prevent these from happening, keep all cleaning products stored in places that cannot be accessed by both kids and pets. If you must store at a low level, you should install kid safety locks or a similar device to doors so they don’t easily get opened. For added safety, you can opt to switch to less toxic products; but, really, it’s all about proper storage. It’s better to spend a little time opening cabinets to get these cleaning products than have to deal with a poisoning issue that threatens life.

  1. Medicines

Statistics show that over 80 percent of deaths related to drug poisoning are accidental, with almost 50 percent caused by an overdose of prescription drugs. The most commonly reported medication poisoning incidents involve oxycodone and hydrocodone, usually found in pain meds. Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDS, too, can be potentially fatal to those who don’t need it. These include the likes of aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen.

Painkiller overdose symptoms range from mood swings, nausea, and confusion to breathing difficulties that can lead to death. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain. If ingested in large doses, NSAIDs can also caused damage in the kidney and result in seizures and coma. If you suspect medical poisoning, call 911 right away. Try to find out when the drug was ingested and how much was consumed to report to the medical personnel.

To prevent medicine poisoning, follow the instruction to “keep medication away from children and pets at all times.” Better yet, install locks on medicine cabinets so nobody gets access to the drugs without you knowing about it. Always keep pills in the original containers or label them properly and visibly, so no accidents happen. More importantly, if a drug is not prescribed to you, don’t take it. Always get a consult from a doctor first before allowing yourself and a family member to take any medicines.

  1. Insecticides

Insecticides are meant to get rid of common household pests, which means they are toxic to humans. Poisoning can happen by way of inhalation, swallowing, or skin absorption and two of the most commonly reported poisons are organophosphates and carbamates, found in many sprays. To spot a possible insecticide poisoning, watch out for excessive salivation, blurred vision, vomiting, and even seizures. If ingested in large doses, these chemicals can led to an overstimulation in the organs and eventual failure.

If you suspect insecticide poisoning, do not make the person throw up because the chemical will come in contact with your internal organs again. Just seek emergency assistance right away. Medical personnel might use atropine to deal with serious insecticide incidents. If the product came in contact with the skin, immediately wash the affected area and the entire body.

To prevent this, try to use as little insecticide as possible, or switch to the organic, natural options. Insecticides that use pyrethrins are said to be safer because they are made from flower products so they are not as potentially fatal to pets and humans in case of ingestion. If you must use the stronger chemical variants, keep these locked and store away from accidental reach. Ensure that nobody is in the room when you apply these products and avoid using them on enclosed spaces as much as possible.

  1. Topical anesthetics

Topical anesthetics are usually safe when used according to package instructions. They contain ingredients that can numb the skin and tissues in cases on insect bites, sunburn, and sore muscles. However, using more than what is needed or accidentally swallowing even just a small amount can result in poisoning.

Poisoning symptos can include drowsiness, difficulty breathing, a slow heartbeat and seizures. One of the most common topical anesthetic, benzocaine, can cause methemoglobinemia, which is a potentially fatal condition where there a dangerously low amount of oxygen in the blood. Symptoms of this issue include rapid heart rate, headache, and a bluish color in the nails or skin. If you suspect poisoning, call 911 immediately or rush to the nearest hospital.

As a preventive measure, always store anesthetics properly and never use more than what is prescribed. Teething gels can be detrimental to children less than 2 years of age so don’t use them on babies. The safer way to relieve teething pains is to just massage the gums to ease pain or use teething rings.

  1. Laundry or dishwashing products

Accidentally swallowing either liquid or granular detergent is dangerous, but laundry pods pose a much bigger risk of poisoning. US Poison Control lists over 62,000 reports related to their issues, mostly affecting kids ages 6 years and younger. Detergent pods, in particular, because of their pretty packaging and pleasant smell, often get mistaken for candy. Statistics show that around 60 percent of laundry poisoning calls are because of these products.

Symptoms of dishwashing and laundry product poisoning include diarrhea and vomiting. If a pod has been ingested, symptoms could cover vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty breathing. As a preventive measure, keep all cleaning agents stored under lock and key and make sure those pods stay where they should be. Better yet, avoid using these candy-looking pods altogether and opt for the liquid or granular versions.

Who Is At Risk?

Poisoning knows no age, so it’s not just about keeping products away from children’s reach. In fact, adults account for almost 40 percent of accidental poisonings. We recommend keeping all potentially hazardous products kept away and used to a minimum. Better yet, have the entire household switch to the organic materials which may be a lot less dangerous (although still possibly fatal if taken in large amounts).

7 Home Safety Tips For People Who Live Alone

Living alone nowadays seems to be the norm among the younger generation and the numbers are reportedly at their highest now than any other time in history. Recent statistics show that 40 percent of all households in major cities in the US have just one occupant. In highly urbanized cities like Washington and Manhattan, a whopping 50 percent of homes are occupied by solo dwellers.

There are many advantages to living alone. Foremost is freedom. You are the master of the house so you get to decide how things go, what decorations will be used, when you need to clean, and more. Included in this list of responsibilities is personal safety and home security.

Because going solo also affords you the freedom to engage in social activities as you wish, it is highly likely that you will be out of the house more often than when you are in it. Or, if you’re a certified homebody, you likely won’t have anyone around on a daily basis to keep you company in case an emergency occurs. According to recent incident reports, a whopping 49.7 percent of house break-ins usually happen to single occupants.

Here are 7 helpful tips for a solo homeowner or renter to stay safe or keep the house protected when you’re not around.

  1. Know your neighbors

In the age of technology, solo dwellers usually don’t become too familiar with the people who live in the place next door. However, getting to know the people you should a building or a community with helps in ensuring a safe environment not just for you but for the rest of the area, as well.

By being familiar with the people you live with, you can instantly spot the not. That is, point out people who seem to be just lurking around and identifying vehicles that do not belong. If you’re friendlier to your neighbors, you can help each other by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in each other’s places or in common spaces. You don’t have to be besties with your neighbor if you not the type, but a simple ‘hello’ everytime you pass each other plays a huge role in keeping your little community safe.

  1. Get yourself a dog

Not only will a dog keep you company when you’re by your lonesome, it will also alert you to a stranger lurking in the yard. A pet will also guard your home when you’re not around, thus discouraging would-be burglars from even attempting to enter your space. In your search for man’s best friend, consider your living space and daily routine.

If you have allergies, make sure to get a dog that does not shed. Also take note of a breed’s activity level and size. A good breed to serve as guard would be boxers, great danes, or german shepherds. If these are too big for your home, especially if you’re living in an apartment, you can get the smaller breeds with big barks.

  1. Use smart locks

Hiding a key under the welcome mat, above the door, or the flower pot are all too common. By installing smart locks, you don’t need to worry about misplacing your house keys again. Smart locks are safer than keys because they will likely require your fingerprint or a special numerical code to open. Some other models come with remote controls that let you check if you remembered to lock the door. If you did forget to do so, you can easily tap some buttons on an app to lock it, even if you’re already at the garage or, with the fancier ones, at work.

  1. Install a security camera

Security cams are your second set of eyes when it comes to looking out for your home. They help you check what’s happening in your house even when you’re away. Some features even let you control the direction the camera is pointing and show you a video in real-time even from thousands of miles away. Aside from inside your home, placing a security cam at your front door also helps you see if somebody came by to call on you or if somebody had been lurking around.

  1. Install motion detection lights

Place the burglar under the spotlight and you’ll spook him from ever attempting anything on your home. Motion sensors offer additional safety and serve as an effective deterrent. They also shine light on any attempts to burgle your home before it even gets started. For optimal results, motion detection lights should be positioned near entryways or any space outside your home where a burglar can hide or try to break in.

  1. Consider getting a personal alarm

There are alarm systems and apps that offer additional security whether you’re out on a run by your lonesome or just watching TV at home. These discreet alarms fit nicely in your jewelry or clothing so you can call for help when you need it. Like the regular home alarms, personal devices set off a loud sound when activated, thus calling attention to yourself and forcing assailants to step back. This type of gadget helps ensure that you are protected wherever you go.

  1. Take advantage of backup

Even if you’re always home alone, it helps to keep your friends and family in the loop as to your whereabouts and activities. Keep close friends in on your regular routine and let someone else if there’s a sudden change in this schedule. Set-up regular meet-ups with friends who also live solo so that you guys notice if someone does not show up or goes MIA. If you’re having something fixed in your home and need to open it up to strangers, invite a friend to come hang out for added safety.

There are plenty of good reasons for living alone and, sometimes, it’s better that way. But when it comes to your safety and security, you simply can’t leave things to chance and luck. There are lots of resources available to help give you peace of mind.

6 Basic Emergency Procedures Everyone In Your Family Should Know

Anybody can be in an emergency situation and the latter can happen at the most unexpected times. This is why it is important for you and the rest of your family to know the basic procedures to handle some of the most common incidents. Knowledge of first aid and how to administer them can save a life. However, in the US, statistics show that as much as 70 percent of Americans do not know what to do in case something does happen.

Are you and your family ready? Let’s have a look at some of the most common emergency situations and what you can do to address each one immediately. Take note that while these procedures are recommended and necessary, the more important thing you should do before performing any of these is to call 911 first or ask somebody to call an ambulance while you get started. With that established, here are six procedures that everybody should know.

  1. Perform CPR

This is one of the first things that come to mind when it comes to “life-saving skills.” Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a technique that could make a huge difference to a person who is suffering cardiac arrest. It’s better to get training from a licensed emergency services specialist and practice the moves beforehand, so that when the time comes that your skill is needed, you are ready. Even just watching a one-minute video about CPR can already help make you better at thir procedure.

  1. Help someone who is choking

The Heimlich maneuver is the most popular way of relieving a person who cannot breathe due to a blockage in the airway. Some restaurants post illustrations and photos demonstrating how to do this procedure because choking happens while one is excitedly eating. However, not every place has these guides available. This is why you and your family should know what to do.

Note that before performing the Heimlich maneuver, you should first strike five blows to the person’s back using the heel of your hand to dislodge the food or object that’s blocking the air passage. If that doesn’t work, that’s the time you do the signature abdominal thrusts. Choking not only happens to people who are eating. It can also happen in children and infants who are prone to putting random stuff in their mouths. There are different techniques for adults and children, so train your family to do both.

  1. Burn

For minor burns, you can immediately address the problem by running the affected area under cool water for at least 10 minutes. Then, get a moist towel to help further cool the skin. Do not put ice, or anything else on the burnt area and simply cleanse it with mild soap and water. For the pain, the person can take meds to manage it. Just make sure that he or she is not allergic to these drugs, or else you end up with a bigger problem.

Simple burns do not require dressings, as well, and just need to be aired out. Just make sure that open wounds are not contaminated so you don’t escalate the problem. Of course, if it’s a major burn, you must call for medical help right away or rush to the nearest hospital to be treated by a professional.

  1. Bleeding

Bleeding can come in different forms, ranging from a simple scrape to the dangerous arterial type. In any case, the goal is to stop the bleeding ASAP and prevent further loss of blood. To address a bleeding issue, wash your hands and put on gloves (or a clean plastic bag) first to avoid contaminating the area. Elevate the site of the bleeding and remove any obvious debris and dirt from the wound. If there’s a large object embedded, do not touch it and just wait for medical professionals to handle it.

Apply pressure on the bleed site with a bandage or clean cloth for at least 20 minutes. During this period, do not open the cloth to check if it has stopped. Just wait until the time has passed before looking. If the bleeding doesn’t stop and there’s arterial damage, apply pressue on the artery itself and squeeze it against the bone, while ensure that your hand continous to apply pressure on the wound itself.

  1. Heart attack

Because a heart attack is life-threatening, knowing how to spot signs of an impending attack and how to deal with it when it does happen is crucial. Signs includes dizziness, pain in the neck, shoulder or arm, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea/vomiting, among others. When you spot someone with these telltale signs, immediately call 911 or have someone do so. You can offer aspirin if available because it can help reduce the damage, then perform CPR when the person loses consciousness. Do this until emergency service arrive and takes over.

  1. Carrying someone bigger than you

There might be times when there’s another person hurt and only you can help bring him or her to safety. If that person if heavier than you or you are not that strong, you can still lift him or her without hurting yourself while doing it. What you can do is take the person’s arm and pull it over your shoulder. Then while crouching down or kneeling, have his or her middle part rest on your shoulder to hang. Thrust upwards using your hips and legs. Do not lean forward as this can cause injury on your back. You can practice this technique with children or small people first, just so you get the hang of it.

Hopefully, you or your family will not be in a situation that requires knowledge of emergency procedures. However, arming your loved ones with these skills makes you better prepared to handle them when they do happen. In addition, practicing these procedures as a family or a team can help bring you closer together because it’s a wonderful way to bond.

Flood Proofing Your Home: How To Be Prepared When The Rainy Season Comes

One can never be fully prepared for a disaster situation, but there are things you can do to help minimize the damage and, possibly, prevent potential problems from entering your home. When it comes to dealing with weather-driven risks, your best bet is to be proactive and to apply preventive measures. While having disaster kits on the ready in case a flood or an earthquake strikes, this is an after-the-fall response. Being prepared for the unexpected is excellent, and should be the practice in every household. However, you can also help reduce its potential impact on your home by flood proofing it.

Homes are more vulnerable than ever now to flood damage because of rising sea levels, urbanization and climate change. There are several ways to flood proof your house, ranging from simple measures to the bigger, more expensive ones. Of course, you should always prepare for the worst. While not all neighborhoods are considered in the so-called “high risk” flood zones, all homes are potentially exposed to fllooding. But before you decide to invest in technology or renovate your entire premises to ensure that floods don’t get through, there are basic steps you can take to shield your home from severe damage.

  • Evaluate Risk First

You can start with the easiest way to determine if your locality is at risk for flood: check the National Flood Insurance Program‘s website Floodsmart[dot]gov and see if your area is listed. The site contains plenty of information about assessing your neighborhood’s exposure. As a general rule, any house that is within what it calls a “100-year-floodplain” (or any area with a 1% expose to flooding) is already at classified as “at risk.”

That’s not the only thing you should check when you assess an area’s vulnerability. You can also ask locals and check previous news to find out if the propety has ever been flooded in before. Some real estate records in certain states are required to the declare this information. Better yet, ask the people who have live there for a very long time to know if there has been any flooding in the past decades.

You can also evaluate flood risk by giving the property a once-over yourself. Here are 4 things you can watch out for.

1. Is your house located in an area that goes uphill or downhill?
2. If it’s at the bottom of an elevation and there are not surrounding downhill slopes, you might be at risk. If this is so you may need to create manmade slopes to channel water away from your property.
3. After a rain, go around your property and note were large puddles are forming. When you find that many of them are near your home, the greater your exposure to flooding.
4. While doing your gardening tasks, take note of the direction that water is flowing while you’re hosing things down. Make sure the water is not going towards your house’s direction.

  • Identifying Possible Flood Points & What You Can Do

When you have pointed out which areas of your home are likely to contribute to flooding, it’s time to take action. You can do these things yourself or get in touch with a professional cleaning agency or landscaper to help you.

1. Clean your house’s downspouts. Downspouts are connected gutter bottoms and they can help channel water away from your home’s foundation. Clear it of any debris that may cause water to pool and cause flooding. Make sure none of your spouts are blocked. When you don’t have this feature in your home, have it installed by a professional before the rainy season comes.

2. Check your perimeter and set up barriers. Sandbags are an effective way to stop flood water from getting into your property. You can also build concrete, dirt or steel barriers so halt an incoming rush of water. Do this even before the rainy season comes so you can prepared for anything. While, admittedly, barriers are not totally flood proof, they can help slow the onslaught of heavy flooding.

3. Change your landscaping. Go for more porous outdoor surfaces for your perimeter because they seep water into the ground better and will prevent it from streaming toward your house. You can dig swales to channel rainwater runoff away or convert asphalt or cement driveways to brick or gravel, instead. Absorbent mulch can also help manage water and reduce your risk for flood damage.

  • Elevate Your Home

If simple proactive measures are not enough because you do live in a flood-prone zone, you can invest in elevating your home. It’s an expensive project and will require a lot of manpower, but over the long run you will be thankful that you did it. If you find yourself and the rest of your family collecting buckets of water to pour outside after every rain comes, elevating your house is a must. Consult with your contractor or engineer to find out the best and most cost-effective way to make this happen, but be prepared anyway to spend.

  • Getting Flood Insurance

To further protect your home from the ill effects of flooding, you can opt to insurance your property. This is especially important if you live in a flood-prone zone or your house sits on a 100-year floodplain. You can set up an emergency fund in the event of disasters, but that can’t really be enough. If your house is situation outside a flood zone, that’s also not an excuse not to get insurance. In fact, around 25 percent of reported flood insurance claims are from homes that are in so-called “safe” areas. Overall, when it comes to your home’s security and your family’s safety, you can never really be too sure.

When disaster strikes, nobody can really predict the outcome nor can anybody by totally shielded by the onslaught. Such is the reality of a natural occurence and this is something we cannot control, no matter how advanced our technologies are. However, for minor rainy-season issues, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your house stays protected and your family is safe. So that the next time the heavy rains hit or a storm comes, you can have peace of mind that you are spared. If not totally protected, you know definitely that the damage will be something you can manage and afford.

Door and Window Sensors: Unique Ways They Can Improve Your Home Security System

Installing a door window sensor is one of the most basic parts of a full home security system. It’s easy to see why it’s also probably the most popular element used. To make it work, all you need is to stick its parts on a window or a door and it’s good to go. Window sensors are what home security systems should be — effective and simple.

But that’s not all a window sensor can do. While most users do place them in the traditional entryways, there are also unique ways to apply them to add security to your home. Some people had used sensors where they were not intended and the results had been pleasantly effective.

  1. They can serve as a backup doorbell.

Sensors, especially those that make loud noises when tagged, can serve as alerts when someone walks up to your front door. They also make a suitable alternative to that broken doorbell that you don’t have the time or budget to have fixed.

The sensor works by chiming when somebody goes through the door. There are smart sensors that can be linked to your phone via an app that also alerts you of the same. If your front door has a glass, a screen, or a similar barrier, you might want to set up the sensor here. You probably won’t hear your visitor knocking but you’ll definitely find out when it sounds off or sends a notification to your phone.

  1. They help keep people out.

Sensors can be helpful if you want nosy visitors and curious kids from snooping around your cabinets. Install it on the safe, the closet, the liquor cabinet, the chocolate drawer, and wherever else you don’t want other people to be checking. This way, the next time somebody attempts to open a door that’s not supposed to be touched, you’ll certainly find out immediately.

  1. It can still guard an open window.

Sensors don’t just work with entryways that are closed. You can let the fresh air in by opening your windows and still have peace of mind. What you can do is post a second magnet on the window sill and you can enjoy the breeze without compromising your sense of security. If somebody tries to open it further, the sensor will sound off at once and alert the household.

  1. It can protect those things you don’t want moved.

Are you iffy about how certain things are arranged in your home? Do you want to ensure that that box you positioned near the door will stay there until you decide to take it out? Sensors can help make this happen. Just still the parts on the items that you want to stay put. If someone tries to relocate it, the alarm will set off as a stern warning. Even if you’re not at home, if somebody tries to move your stuff, you’ll immediately know through your phone.

  1. It can serve as a backup guard for your outdoor shed.

Aside from placing sensors on your home’s entry points, it can also help send out an alert on any attempt to open your garage or outdoor shed. You can make this happen if your shed is within the working distance of your control panel. Sheds are often home to valuable equipment and supplies, so having a sensor installed there makes a lot of sense.

The Importance of Door and Window Sensors

Most home security systems already come with a few sets of door and window sensors, but you can always add more depending on your needs. If you are working on a limited budget, you can set up your security system with these for the meantime. Ideally, sensors are positioned on every possible point of entry in your house, so that if anything gets opened or breached, it sends a signal to the control panel and sets off an alarm.

Sensors are presented in two pieces, with one fitting onto the window or the door itself and the other to the frame. They are usually attached using an adhesive to keep them in place, while some are screwed onto the frame. The pieces are positioned next to each other so they can interact. When they are separated, the alarm goes off.

At this point it is important to note that there are different types of sensors. Some are directly connected to the rest of your network via wires while some are equipped with a battery so that they can be installed wirelessly. The latter are more popular nowadays because of the growing trend towards DIY installations. Some sensors are powered by magnets, while others rely on the connection between light beams to determine a breach.

Before installing door and window sensors for your home, find out first how many you need. Count the number of entry points, including the garage, so you are prepared with all the supplies and hardware before you start. If you miss even a single door or window in this count, you render your entire home security system useless. Remember, a burglar only needs one point of entry and exit to succeed in looting your home. Do not give outsiders the opportunity by not making sure that all bases are covered.

If you want to make doubly sure that you have everything accounted for, you can opt to hire a professional service that will not only make the installations happen but can also provide helpful guidance on other potential threats in your home. Some professional security providers also go beyond simple set ups and offer to continue monitoring your area for a pre-agreed period.

Understanding how the elements of your home security systems work helps you maximize their benefits and enables you to keep them well-maintained. This will ensure that your devices are working as they should (and more) so your risk of a break in is reduced. Home security systems come with quite a hefty cost, but you can be creative in the ways you can apply the basic parts so you and your family can have peace of mind. Your safety is priceless.

Wired vs Wireless Home Security: Which One Should You Get?

So you’ve finally decided that your house needs a home security system. Congratulations — and it’s about time. Given the multitude of security issues in the US today, even if you live in a so-called “good” neighborhood, having a surveillace system in place is one extra step towards your peace of mind.

But before you move forward, you must decide first whether you are getting a wired or wireless security system for your home (or both). There are a number of pros and cons for either and any security expert you ask will always say “it depends on your specific needs and personal preference.” The decision rests on your purpose, the house’s size, and your budget. Whether you go all wired, all wireless, or a combination of both is up to you.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having wired and wireless home security.

  • Wired Security – Advantages

There are several benefits to having a wired system. For one, it’s more stable and lasts longer than wireless because it does not run on batteries. There’s also no pressure on you to monitor battery life so you can change them in time. Another is reliable monitoring. Wired setups do not depend on sensors or radio frequencies so their communication lines are more solid. As long as the wires aren’t damaged or the phone lines aren’t cut, this is less likely to fail compared to wireless.

Wired security systems are also vulnerable to hacking because of its largely physical and grounded nature. That means that one would have to actually go to your control panel and connect to it just to hack it (where he or she will definitely get caught). If you are covering a large area, wired units are more stable because they can accommodate more sensors. In fact, their reach is so huge that they can span from one building to another on the same property.

When it comes to availability of nifty features, you can count on wired systems to deliver. If you want to install high-tech HD video surveillance gadgets, you will need the solid stability of wired setups to make this happen. Control panels can also be set-up in multiple rooms. Plus, they are easier to maintain compared to wireless.

  • Wired Security – Disadvantages

While wired systems are more stable, they are also more complicated to install. In fact, because of the number of wires that need to be connected and put in place, the best and most efficient time to get them up is during the construction phase of a home. If your house is already existing, you have to be prepared to drill holes, and open up drywalls and redo them. This process is rather costly. In some cases, the areas where you want cameras or sensors to be attached will be difficult to access, particularly those already tight spaces.

Another downside to a wired setup is that it requires a professional to install it, which can incur high costs. It also means inviting strangers into your home, which can be a challenge if you’re iffy about privacy. Wired systems can take a full day or days to complete and you might not want this rather invasive procedure in your home. If your house has not been preinstalled with a wired system and you’re not agreeable to making changes to its construction, perhaps you should consider getting a wireless security setup.

  • Wireless Security – Advantages

The main reason why most households prefer wireless security systems, aside from it being quite popular these days, is that they are very easy to install. You can even go DIY on this. If it must be set up by a professional, you can expect that this will be done in half a day or less. Because it does not require any wires and drills, you need not worry about ruining your walls or dealing with expensive professional fees. They can also be easily removed, making it suited for apartment renters and temporary residents. You can bring your entire wireless system with you to your new home should you move.

Another pro to wireless is that it can be accessed remotely. Whereas a wired system requires contact with an on-the-ground control panel, a wireless system may use a remote key fob can trigger the panic button or set off/ turn off your setup. You can even connect it to your smartphone so you can set and re-set basic functions with ease.

  • Wireless Security – Disadvantages

One big downside to wireless is that it is battery dependent, so you will need to change them out or recharge them frequently. If you forget, then it turns off and you get no security. The more modern models addressed this issue by putting in longer lasting batteries but, still, they will need to replaced at some point. Some units sent you an alert, though, if you’re about to run out, and most rechargeable batteries have a 3 to 5-year life.

The range of wireless setups is also relatively limited. If you have a large home or need to cover a wide space, you might need to also install wireless repeaters to amplify the signals. Wireless systems use radio frequency which, along with distance limitations, might also interfere with other equipment in your home that also run on the same frequencies. Finally, it is more susceptible to hacking. To protect yourself, make sure you have a strong password for your Wi-Fi and your router is encryption enabled.
Overall, the decision between wired vs wireless depends on what your household needs (and what you can afford). Each one has its set of pros and cons, so weigh each carefully and see what you can live it. They both have a long list of features that may be helpful to certain types of homes and not really necessary for yours.

Alternatively, you can use a hybrid mix of wired and wireless components in your home. Talk to a professional provider so he or she can assess your house and suggest a best combination. Regardless of your choice, having a security system installed is one of the best ways to protect you and your family from outsiders.

Smart Home Technology: 6 Reasons Why Your House Needs It

We live at a time of a rise in technology, so when it comes to setting up safety measures for your home there really is no other way but to get automated. Smart homes and modern construction techniques offer home owners a new sense of control. Even when you are out of the house, a smart home can let you know of its status and give you the ability to power things up or down from miles away.

A smart home can be built from ground zero with technology as a key design element or incorporate into an existing structure through renovation. Either way, transforming your living space into one that does things for you and anticipates your moves comes with several advantages.

What Does Having A ‘Smart’ Home Mean?

Home automation generally means using a range of technology that are interconnected by one network that can be controlled remotely. When your appliances, devices, and systems operate under just one umbrella system, you have what is called a “connected home.” For instance, you can adjust your home’s temperature, turn your appliances on and off, lock and open doors, and adjust security settings from the comfort of your smart phone or mobile device — even when you’re not physically in it.

A smart home gives you a higher luxury that seemed unheard of in the past. As the technology continues to develop, so do the possibilities of having a home life that is easier and, arguably, more enjoyable.

Here are 6 reasons why your house should adopt or switch to smart technology.

  1. It is convenient.

Smart homes help make our lives easier. Being able to control every connected device in your home through just one system is a huge step forward in terms of household management. All you need to do is learn to use the related app on your mobile device and you can adjust the wide range of functions in every room of your home.

In addition to cutting the learning curve to just the app, especially for those who are not too tech-inclined, smart settings help make things happen exactly the way you want them to. For example, you can instruct the system to set your room temperature at an exact number or turn your coffee maker on at the exact time so you always wake up to a freshly made cup. In short, all those common household tasks that took up time and effort are now considered done (and done well) with just a tap on the app.

  1. It maximizes security.

There are plenty of choices for integrated safety features to your smart home network. You can connect surveillance cameras, motion detectors, automatic locks, and other security devices and activate/deactivate them from your phone. You can also set the system to send you notifications and frequent updates on your home’s status or to alert you when there’s been a breach. Others also offer links to your local police station or emergency services that you can tap instantly to send responders to your location. Some smart security systems also give you real-time access and a view of your house even when you’re halfway around the world.

  1. It makes parts of your home easier to access.

If you have differently-abled or elderly people in your home, a smart system can help make things easily available to them. This way, they don’t have to depend so much on other people and can still function properly when they’re alone. These features include voice commands for locking the house, operating a phone, setting up the computer, and more. You can also program your smart home to mow the lawn at a pre-set time, as well as perform other previously laborious household chores regularly.

  1. It helps boost energy efficiency.

A smart home can help make your house more energy-efficient. For example, you can set your home’s temperature settings according to your schedule so it doesn’t need to eat up energy when you’re not around. You can also have it automatically switch from a indoor lights to natural lighting during the day. Lights in the room can also be set to turn on when somebody goes in and off when you leave. Combined with energy-efficient appliances, a smart home can contribute greatly in the conservation of natural resources.

  1. It helps maximize your appliances’ functionality.

A smart home can help you operate your devices according to how you want things done. For instance, your smart TV can predict the types of shows that you want to watch according to your pre-set terms or viewing habits. That way, you don’t need to waste time channel surfing. A smart oven can cook your meats according to your exact preference so you don’t have to worry about an undercooked or overcooked steak. You can also pre-program your audio system to play certain types of music for particular times of the day.

A smart home also gives you insight on how you and family lives. For example, it can tell you how much time you spend watching TV, what kinds of food you cook often, what appliances you use all time, and more. These provide information on your and your household’s lifestyle habits so you can also make adjustments on the way you live.

  1. It helps boost your home’s resale value.

When the time comes when you want to sell your home, it will be much easier to do so and you will likely get a better price for it. This is because your house will have a long list of selling points that will help boost its value. Houses that are pre-fitted with a smart system fetch a higher price compared to a home with conventional tech. Thus, while automating your home now may be pricey, it is a good enough investment to ensure that you attract better buyers in the future.

In addition to all these advantages, the greater “pro” of setting up a smart home now is that it is continuously developing technology. With so many companies now scrambling to invent new ways to make living much easier and more convenient, it is the end consumer that scores the biggest win.

Home Safety 101: Keeping Your House and Family Safe During A Power Outage

There are many reasons why a power outage can happen to a certain area and most of them are unpredictable. It can be because of strong winds, a severe storm, or an accident. That said, you have to be prepared so that your family stays safe in case it does happen in your home. There are several simple steps that you can take to ensure your household’s safety. Here are some of them that you can start preparing for right now.

  1. Water

If you have a water purification system installed in your home, it might not work when there’s a power outage. To make sure that your family continues to drink safe water, it’s best to stock up on bottled water just in case. Water doesn’t expire, so there’s no worry about keeping several bottles or gallons of potable water in the stock.

Alternatively, you can also boil water or treat it during a power outage. Get in touch with your local health center for recommendations and tips on treating water. As a rule, never use contaminated water to prepare food, wash hands, brush your teeth, or even rinse dishes. The bacteria that live in this water could be accidentally ingested and harm you and your loved ones.

  1. Food

If the power outage is to last only a few hours, then you’ll be fine with whatever food you already have at home. But during the storm season, you have to be proactive and prepare for a possible outage that can last days. For example, if your freezer is half-full, it can still preserve your food safely for about a day. If it’s fully stocked, it can keep all the contents safe for up to 48 hours. Open fridge and freezer doors as rarely as you can to keep the heat from entering and to help keep the temperature inside constant.

Meanwhile, food that is stored in the fridge will not last as long as the ones in the freezer. To be safe, transfer foods like meat, eggs, milk, fish and the like into a cooler that has lots of ice to help preserve their viability for longer. If it’s the winter season, you can use the snow to preserve the food, but if it’s during the summer, you will need to head out to buy some ice.

  1. Heating and cooling systems

During the winter season, the threat to your family’s safety can be higher because they can succumb to hypothermia. Your heating and cooling systems will likely be electricity-driven and will be down for an indefinite period. To prevent this from happening, prepare extra clothes and accessories that your loved ones can use to layer and warm up.

In the summer seasons, you could also be exposed to extreme heat and can suffer from heat stroke, exhaustion, and fainting. To avoid this, ensure that you are well stocked with water to keep yourselves hydrated. Open doors and windows to boost ventilation and invite fresh air in. Avoid drinking alcohol and coffee during this time as both are diuretics and can get rid of the water in your body extra fast.

If you suspect hypothermia or heatstroke, you should seek medical help immediately. Hypothermia means a body temperature that’s lower than 35C (95F), while heatstroke means a body temp of 106F and higher. Both can either lead to permanent disability or death so don’t take these for granted.

  1. Risk for gas poisoning

During the colder seasons and the power is down, you might be tempted to use unsafe heating methods to warm yourselves up, like setting up a small fire. While this will definitely bring warmth into your home, it also presents a fire hazard, not to mention carbon monoxide poisoning. Building a fire may be necessary and that’s understandable. Just make sure you know the risks and shield your family against gas leaks in the home. Do not bring propane and charcoal heat sources inside the home.

If you are using a generator, make sure you have installed gas alarms that have battery back-ups in key areas on every floor of your house. This will help alert you if poisonous gas is starting to accummulate so you and your family can evacuate quickly.

  1. Electric shock

When the power finally returns, those who are working to restore it in your home are exposed to possible shock from the sudden surge of electricity. Thus, it is important to use the proper gear and ensure that the conditions are safe to prevent electrocution. If this does happen, immediately call emergency services for help. You should also always have an emergency kit ready in case of an outage. This kit should include flashlights, batteries, medicine, water, and first aid supplies. It should also have some dried or canned food.

Protecting Your Household

If the power goes out, see if it’s just your house or it the entire block is affected. It could just be you and there might a tripped circuit or a blown fuse in your breaker box. If this is the case, call a utility professional immediately. Don’t try to fix it yourself unless you’re a licensed electrician and you have all the safety devices on hand. Then break out your battery-powered radio to listen for updates, in case the phone lines are down and you can’t call your local electric provider right away.

When you need to stay indoors during a power outage, your safest bet for lighting are flash lights and battery-powered devices — never candles. If you have no other choice, set the candles inside low and wide cans and position them away from curtains and other flammable items. Make doubly sure the kids and pets cannot reach them, too.

Also, immediately unplug all electrical equipment, particularly the sensitive electronics, so they don’t suffer from short circuit in the event of a spike when the power does return. In the event of an emergency, it’s always the smartest to take a proactive approach and be prepared. While you might not think your home will be affected by a calamity, you never know when a power outage could happen in your community so it’s best to be ready.

More importantly, every person in your household should know how to get out immediately and be familiar with all exits. Plan and practice your escape before something does happen.