Deep cleaning, window coverings and a fresh coat of paint are all givens when moving into a new home. But what about the devices that will keep your family safe – from carbon monoxide detectors to first aid kits to safety latches on high windows? Here are six things you need to do before you move in to your new home.
They may not be as visually glamorous, but they are crucial to keeping you and your family safe and comfortable — and that’s what good design is all about.
First things first — First aid: If you do one thing to improve your safety at home, make sure you have a good first aid kit that’s easily accessible. The kit should be able to handle triage for serious cuts, burns or bone and muscle injuries. While we’re on the subject of kits, every home really needs an emergency/disaster kit. Whether tornadoes, earthquakes, floods or fires are the natural disaster in your neck of the woods, be prepared to evacuate or hunker down and ride it out. Make sure the kit you build or buy addresses the following: First aid, something to signal others with (think light and sound), warmth, food/water, and some basic tools. It can help to keep all of these in easy to carry watertight tupperware and seal-tight baggies.
Be alert: Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are required by law in many areas of the country, but they’re also key to keeping you alert while you’re busy living your life. You can purchase a combo smoke/carbon monoxide detector to help keep the clutter down on your walls and ceilings. Then, make sure to schedule a check-up every month or two. This is important and all too easy to forget. Keep an extra stash of batteries around, so that when the installed ones run down, there’s no gap in home safety.
Be prepared: The Boy Scouts were on to something here! The last thing you want is to find that your smoke detectors are working, but you don’t have anything to put out the fire. Place fire extinguishers in a few key locations. Obviously the kitchen is first, then one in the laundry/utility room and one near your electrical box. If you’ve got a multi-level home, make sure there’s one on every floor. Remember, these need to be checked every year. The only thing worse than having no fire extinguisher when you need it, is having one that doesn’t work!
Be informed: Once you’ve got those basics down, you want to learn how to shut down the power to the house in an emergency. Know where all the sources are and how to turn them off. Start with the gas valve — behind the stove is the most common location. Some models require a special wrench to turn it on and off, so make sure you’re set up with what you need. Next, find the electrical box. These days it could be located nearly anywhere in the house, but start by looking in closets, utility rooms and on the outside of the house in the back or on the side. Make sure the switches are labeled by room so that when electrical work needs to be done in the house, you don’t have to shut down power to the whole house just to put up a ceiling fan in the bedroom. Finally, you want to know where to shut off the water. You’ll usually find this near the water meter on the outside of the house, or buried in the yard underneath a metal cover. Plumbing problems get a lot worse when they also become flooding problems!
The wild card — kids: So, you’ve got first aid, emergencies and the basics of the house covered. But if you’ve got small children in the home, you’re just getting started. Kids are the most unpredictable element in any house, right?
Baby gates are great for stairs and the entry/exit point of rooms you’re in and out of where you may keep chemicals or power tools, even crafting supplies. They’re also great for corralling the other wild things in the house: pets.
Window latches are great as the kids get big enough to start wondering what’s outside of that second-story window. These are easy to install, discrete, and keep healthy curiosity healthy.
Outlet protectors are essential for those curious fingers. You can get the simple plug-in variety, but you can also find them in more attractive styles that cover the entire outlet. Cabinet locks are key to keeping the kiddies out of the chemicals. You’re going to have to clean more than ever now, so you need those supplies handy, but not too handy.
You don’t need to obsess about the potential dangers — just do a quick bit of thinking and planning. Then sit back and enjoy your new home!
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What is the first thing you do when you move into a new home?
Meet Your Contributor
Kerrie Kelly As an interior designer, and likes to provide design advice for The Home Depot. Kerrie gives tips on how a great design also includes plans to keep her clients safe. Click here to see The Home Depot’s selection of carbon monoxide alarms that Kerrie mentions in the article.