Whether you are at home or on vacation, disasters can happen at any time. The good news is that with the right equipment and planning, many home disasters can be prevented. Here we’ll show you the top 5 preventable home disasters. Also, we will take you through what you can do to make your house a safer place for your family and your belongings.
Common disasters that can happen in your house (and how to prevent them).
1.- Domestic Fires
People may think hurricanes or earthquakes are the most common disaster in the USA. But they aren’t, in fact, fires are the number one disaster.
There are surprising stats about this, The American Red Cross pointed out that they respond to more than 64,000 annual disasters and most of those are in the home.
According to the American Red Cross, this is what you can do to avoid these incidents:
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home. Include inside the rooms and outside sleeping areas. Smoke tends to rise, you should mount alarms high up on walls and ceiling. Don’t install these alarms in the pathway of steam that may come out of the bathroom or smoke that may come from the kitchen.
- Test the smoke alarms monthly. If one does not work, change the batteries.
- You should install a circuit breaker in your home. It will automatically cut off the current when a short circuit occurs. Worn cables, electrical boxes in poor condition, and others should be treated immediately.
- Using charcoal protectors in chimneys will prevent sparks from flying around the room and causing a fire.
- Avoid storing flammable materials for long periods of time or in remote places. Always keep this material under surveillance. Avoid placing it near heat sources, power cables or electrical outlets.
- Perform the necessary maintenance and cleaning of your household appliances and kitchen utensils.
- Completely extinguish cigarettes and properly use the ashtrays.
- Buy a good household fire extinguisher (a class ABC). Make sure old enough family members know where it’s kept and how to use it.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector near areas where people sleep. Don’t forget to check and replace its batteries regularly. If the alarm turns on, immediately get out of the house and call 911.
There are things you can do to help prevent damage caused by water. Pay special attention to the following common causes:
- Check each year that your water heater is not rusted or cracked. Consider cleaning your water heater every year to remove accumulated sediment.
- Make sure that the drain line of your air conditioner is not obstructed. Also, check that the drip tray does not have standing water. Run routine maintenance on your A/C system regularly.
- Inspect hoses in washing machines and dishwashers for kinks, cracks, or deterioration. Replace the hoses for the washer every five years.
- Check the waterproof seals around bathtubs, sinks, toilets, etc.
- Routinely check the pipes below sinks for leaks or signs of wear.
- In winter, protect the faucets that are outside your home to prevent the pipes from freezing. Keep the right heat inside your home, especially if you are going to be away for a long time. In freezing weather, open the cabinets under the sinks to allow warm air to flow around the pipes.
- Water in the basement is often caused by cracks in building foundations or floor slabs. Covering exposed areas with water sealant can prevent seepage.
- Install a backwater valve. It allows sewage to go out, but not come back in.
- Check if your sump pump works correctly. If it doesn’t, the water may fill up the basement damaging the house foundation structure.
- Clean drains and sewers. To prevent the stagnant water from the patio or the street enter the house.
- It is important waterproofing roofs, walls, and foundations. It will avoid moisture, leaks, and floods.
3.- Critters filling your attic or your basement
Bugs such as bees, wasps or even bats can seize any solitary space in the house. They usually enter through a small hole or slot. From there they will build their nests and chew the electrical wiring and structure of the house. You can prevent these problems by taking some simple measures:
- Seal cracks and holes in the outside of the house. Don’t forget possible points of entry in all pipes and possible places of entry for pests.
- Keep branches and bushes well trimmed and away from the house.
- Keep basements, attics, and spaces under the floor well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers, and if possible, throw it away every day.
- Repair any decomposed wood roof because insects are attracted by the deterioration of the wood.
Arriving home to find your doors or windows open or destroyed can make anyone panic. Anyone who has experienced this immediately knows that somebody has entered their home and has surely become a victim of theft.
Here are some tips to best prevent an intrusion in your home:
- Verify the identity of domestic service companies employees. Ask for their identity and call a company phone number. You must be sure that the phone number you are calling belongs to that company.
- If you lose your keys or you begin to live in a house previously occupied change the lock.
- Protect your home with a security locked door. Reinforce windows that are easily accessible from the outside.
- Install cameras at strategic points. These are very persuasive security elements that usually discourage any on-lookers from targeting your home. Take a look at our blog piece comparing different security cameras to find which may be right for you.
- Install a security alarm. It gives you immediate alerts and there will be a security team that will go to your home when there is a warning.
- Comment on the trip or vacation only to neighbors that you completely trust. You can ask them to park their car in front of your house and ask them to retire your correspondence from the mailbox.
5.- A Tree/Branch Falling On Your Roof
The last thing you need is to wake up one day frightened by the noise of a tree that has fallen on your house. If you do not take some preventive measures, this is definitely a serious possibility.
Trim any hanging branches (especially if they are dead). You also may need to remove any sick trees that could endanger your home.
Ask a certified arborist to check the trees around your house. They will know how to detect problems that you may not recognize.
An arborist can also help trim the tree limbs too close or swing a tree that is learning and prone to falling during a strong storm.
Appliances damaged by Home Disasters
Disasters or home accidents can cost you a lot of money in lost or damaged equipment. Anything from water damage to large power surges could potentially cost you thousands in repairs and replacements.
- Store off-season appliances in waterproof containers or bins. Particularly if they’re near to prone to humidity areas or if there are plumbing pipes, like basements and attics.
- Never store expensive devices where there is water destruction risk. Likewise, do not store belongings in basements in direct touch with the floor. Keep a space in case of water seepage or a sewer backup.
- Electronic equipment is highly vulnerable to power surges. Short circuits are also one of the main causes of electronic device damages. You should invest in surge protectors that also can protect cable TV and telephone lines. This little investment is worth big in the long run.
- Never get into a flooded basement. You must call a licensed electrician, the fire department or the electricity company to manage this situation.
- Be aware of mold in refrigerators or freezers. It’s good news that these apparatuses are still on when you get home. Maybe the water didn’t reach their internal units. However, during the following days inspect them closely to be sure there is no mold or mildew in their condenser and compressor units.
You should always have adequate home insurance coverage. Keep an up-to-date inventory on your appliances to correctly assess their worth.
Knowing how to prevent home disasters is the key to safety. Both for your belongings, for your home and even for you and your family.
Many catastrophic events that happen in our homes can be prevented by following guidelines like the ones mentioned above. Avoid costly disasters by taking these preventative measures and keep your family safe by thinking ahead.
Jordan has worked as a mortgage lender and real estate agent. He is a self-described “housing professional” with over 20 years of experience in the industry. After retiring at the early age of 50, he shifted his focus to sharing his personal wisdom with others.