Lessons on Home Safety with Kids

Many people know how to detect a fire or even put out a fire with a fire extinguisher. Many people also understand how to carefully climb a ladder or turn on a stove. But kids need to be taught how to do these things and how to stay safe while around the home. 

What to do during a fire risk

Depending on your child’s age, they may be able to use a fire extinguisher to put out a small fire. If you have teenagers, you can teach them how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a kitchen fire. However, smaller children may not be tall enough or old enough to understand the severity of a fire. So for little kids, it is best to teach them how to dial 911 and then go outside to stay out of harms way.

If the fire is too big, obviously teaching all children to leave the house and dial 911 will make all the difference between safety and serious injury.

Stay off the ladders

Ladders are tricky household maintenance tools. Our recommendation is that all kids stay off ladders unless there is supervision. Even adults on tall ladders should have someone at the bottom holding the ladder still to make sure there is no danger of falling. This also goes for home step stools of a significant height. The item up high can wait until someone else is around.

Electricity and water do not mix

Teaching kids that electrical items need to stay far away from water is very important. Many of us are aware that mixing water and electricity can lead to electric shocks and cause serious injury. Children do not always understand that a radio or television does not belong on a bathtub ledge. Teach children of all ages to keep the electrical items away from water. This also goes for teenagers using hairdryers in the bathroom over a running water sink.

Stay away from power tools

Power tools are like ladders. They are great at fixing things but they are also seriously dangerous. Power tools are best used with adult supervision and with specific training from a skilled adult. Teach kids to stay away form the power tools. And if you have the ability to lock the motors from running, it is best to keep safety mechanisms in place.

Keep clear of roofs

For some reason, kids sometimes think they can fly … just like Superman. It is important to discuss the issues of climbing or sitting on a roof and the dangers that can come with it. Roofs like ladders can cause serious injury and even potentially death. It is important to discuss height issues with children. This also goes for climbing tall trees around your house. Last thing you need is a scare and broken arm for one of your children.

Lawn Mowers

Over time, kids are given the responsibility to cut the grass. Whether they use push mower or rider mowers, these machines have high powered, fast moving blades that are designed to cut grass quickly. If children are not taught the respect of the machine, they could end up hurting themselves due to major cuts that can lead to severe bleeding. It is important to teach children how a lawn mower works in addition to the chore assigned to moving the lawn.

Understanding cleaning supplies

Some cleaning supplies can be toxic. It is important to keep cleaning supplies out or reach of little children. And potentially to add a child safety lock to the cabinets where the cleaning supplies are located. Small children do not understand not to drink cleaning supplies and cleaning supplies can cause death in a child. It is also important to educate older children about the use of cleaning supplies and the need to keep them away from their younger siblings. Using natural cleaning supplies will also help to remove risk of children getting sick from these supplies.

Keeping children safe can be challenging, but by practicing these simple instructions, you can minimize the risk from home related accidents.

Posted on HomeZada

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4 Steps to Take After Your Home Has Been Burglarized

What would you do if you came home and found your house was broken into and your property stolen? For millions of Americans every year, this nightmare is a reality. In 2010, there were 2,159,878 burglaries in the United States, equivalent to nearly 700 break-ins per 100,000 people, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Most victims in this situation find themselves totally unprepared and at a loss for what to do. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regain control of the situation, improve the odds of recovering your property, and prevent your home from being broken into again.

Call the Police

Call the police when you spot the first sign of a break-in. The intruder may still be on your property and pose a threat to your safety. Seven percent of all home burglaries involve violence against household members, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

You also need to call the police to get your case on file for insurance and legal purposes. A police report and investigation increases the strength of your insurance claim as well as your odds of retrieving your property. The police also need to record crime scene evidence which can help convict suspects if they are caught. Don’t touch anything before the police arrive so that you don’t accidentally destroy evidence such as fingerprints.

When the police arrive, they will want you to file a report. Take pictures to document what was stolen, and provide the police with a list of everything that was taken and its approximate value. As a preventive measure, it’s wise to take an inventory of valuable items ahead of time in case you are ever robbed.

Call Your Insurance Company

You should also copy your list of stolen items for your insurance provider. To maximize your odds of receiving reimbursement for stolen items, contact your insurance provider within 24 hours. They will need your police report to process your claim, so make sure you have already filed a police report before calling. Your insurance provider will probably send an adjuster to review the crime scene, so in order to avoid disrupting the evidence, you may wish to stay somewhere else until they arrive, if possible.

Review Your Security Camera Footage

If you have security cameras installed on your property, you should review them to see if there is any additional evidence. If you’re fortunate, you may have captured footage of the burglar breaking in, walking through rooms, or rummaging through items. You may also notice more clues, as well as additional information about which items were stolen. Provide copies of any relevant footage to the police and to your insurance provider.

Evaluate Your Home Security

After the police and your insurance adjuster have finished reviewing the crime scene, you can begin cleaning up. You should also conduct a review of your home’s security with an eye towards preventing future burglaries. Once burglars have successfully broken into a home, they often return in the future, so it’s important to make sure you secure any vulnerabilities that enabled the initial break-in. The National Crime Prevention Council provides a home security checklist you can use to review your home security and identify any vulnerabilities that need to be fixed.

Having your home broken into is a traumatic and disturbing experience, but taking these steps can help you recover and restore your life to order as quickly as possible. Filing a report with the police, calling your insurance company, and reviewing your security footage will maximize your chances of getting your property returned and bringing those responsible to justice. Reviewing your home security can help prevent future burglaries and restore your peace of mind.

 

Posted by Roy Rasmussen on RISMedia

10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Heading out of town for the summer? Don’t make it easy for burglars to find out.

Keep your home from being a target with these easy tips.

The season of long weekends and beach getaways is upon us, and the last thing any homeowner wants to imagine when they’re soaking in the sun or taking a dip at the lake is a burglar snooping around their empty home. While there is no use in being paranoid about your belongings while you’re away, home security shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it’s the right season to be wary: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that household burglary rates are highest in the summer.

So whether you’re getting away for the day or weekend or taking an extended vacation, put these 10 summer holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target for robbers this season — or any season.1. Beef up security systems

  1. Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to protect your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure.

    2. Make your home look lived in

    One big clue to burglars that you’ve gone away during the summer? An unkempt lawn. Be sure to mow it before you leave — or hire someone to keep it trimmed while you’re gone — so your home looks well cared for. The same precaution can be transferred to winter months — if you’re expecting a big snow, have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway.

    3. Don’t keep your windows open

    String lights can be a great way to illuminate a deck or outdoor space during summer months, but don’t run electrical extension cords through your windows. If your windows don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade.

    4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations

    A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside.

    5. Use the latest tech

    Take advantage of a devices like FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. Other home automation devices, like Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone, can also help ward off thieves.

    6. Keep your valuables out of sight

    That shiny new laptop, your favorite jewelry, or basically anything valuable you’ve forgotten to stash out of sight could tempt burglars. Before you head out of town, do a quick walk-through in each room and hide all valuables.

    7. Make a record of valuables

    It’s a good idea to take pictures of your stuff — particularly big-ticket items such as laptops and TVs — and keep serial numbers in a safe place. Should the worst happen, you’ll have a record of what was taken and be able to confirm your things are truly yours if they are recovered by police.

    8. Do your packing out of sight

    Sure, you have to make room for the bikes, load up the boogie boards, and stash away some snacks, but be smart about where you pack up the car. If possible, keep your car in the garage or out of sight, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC.

    9. Be smart about boxes

    If you’ve bought new gear to bring along on your summer vacation, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Instead, break down the cardboard and put it in your container for recycling or trash pickup.

    10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans

    It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans online with your 500 closest friends. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk.

    Posted by Ginny Gaylor on Trulia

52 Everyday Safety Tips for Real Estate Agents and Brokers

In the car, at open houses or generally out and about, here are ways to keep yourself safe

It’s agent safety month in the real estate industry — happy September!

We’ve been thinking about agent safety all month, from our special report about how safe agents feel on the job to contributed articles about open-house safety and beyond.

This list is compiled from a variety of resources — the articles on Inman’s real estate agent safety resource page (which we update regularly), assorted sources online and my own experience taking and assisting in a women’s self-defense course.

I hope you find them useful!

In the car

Real estate agents are in their vehicles a lot. Minimize the chances of being caught vulnerable in a breakdown situation by taking these precautions.

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. When the needle hits the halfway mark, refuel.
  • Follow your car’s guidelines for maintenance; get your oil changed regularly and don’t neglect routine upkeep.
  • Stock your car with jumper cables and everything you might need to change a tire at minimum. Bonus points for a car battery charger and empty gas can.
  • Hide $20 in your glove compartment or sunglass holder in case of an emergency (or simply a forgotten wallet at the pump).
  • Learn how to change a tire. Practice until you feel comfortable doing it yourself. Keep a maintained and inflated spare tire (at least one) in your vehicle at all times. Keep your jack and other tools in good working order.
  • Stash bottled water and nonperishable food items in your car.
  • Keep at least one portable charger in your car — you never know when your car battery might die while your phone is running low. Recharge your portable charger regularly (once a month should do) so you don’t lose your backup.
  • Think about the weather where you live. If the area is prone to blizzards, for example, keep a foldable shovel, blankets and extra coats/boots in your car for possible winter storms. Floods? You’ll want an extra pair of rain boots and an umbrella.
  • Wear your seatbelt every time you drive or ride in a car. Have clients with you? Insist they put theirs on.
  • Studies have shown that your ability to pay attention to the road drops dramatically when you are on the phone. Even if it’s legal in your state or municipality, hang up the cell phone when you have your hands on the wheel and feet on the pedals.
  • Do you have roadside assistance — and do you know what the terms are? Trust me: You won’t regret spending an additional $50 annually when you finally need your car towed and your plan covers 100 miles of towing instead of 5. (Brokerages: Discounts on towing or even complimentary roadside assistance plans could be a lovely extra to offer your agents.)

When showing houses or at open houses

Kirby Hamilton / iStock.com

Kirby Hamilton / iStock.com

Part of your job involves spending time with strangers in private spaces — single-family homes. Here’s how to make that less of a dodgy situation.

  • Preview neighborhoods before you list a property there. Check for cell phone reception and get a feel for how close each property is to neighbors. Familiarize yourself with where the police and fire stations are in the area.
  • Park under a light where you can see your car clearly from the door. Do your best to park somewhere you won’t get blocked in (on the curb instead of in a driveway, for example).
  • If you’re planning an open houseor listing a house, it’s not merely good marketing to walk up and down the street and introduce yourself to the neighbors — it’s also a good safety precaution. Invite them to the open house. (Depending on whether you feel OK about the neighbor, you can also point out your car and tell them to come find you at the listing if it’s ever in their way.)
  • Work in teams whenever possible. More than one person keeping an eye on things means fewer opportunities for something untoward to happen. If one of you doesn’t feel right about someone you’ve met, have a signal worked out and a plan for how to gracefully extract yourself from the situation or otherwise ensure your safety.
  • Charge your phone fully before you get to the open house or listing.
  • Know your way around the house before you are there alone with a stranger. At the very least, check the floor plan — you will want to know in which rooms you might be most easily trapped and where your potential escape routes could be.
  • Pay special attention when walking around a vacant homefor the first time (which should always be done in the daylight). Look for signs that someone might have broken into the house: open doors or windows, wood pallets or boxes or even step stools outside the house that might have been used to grant access, extension cords leading from doors or windows to outside or a neighbor’s house. If you see any of those things outside, don’t enter; call the police instead.
  • Look for graffiti on walls, trash in corners, food in the kitchen and other signals that someone might be living in a vacant listing. If you think a vacant listing might be occupied by someone who shouldn’t be there, your first priority is to get yourself to safety and then call the police and inform them.
  • Protect your clients by compiling a checklist of things they will want to secure or remove from the house during open houses and showings — examples include jewelry, prescription drugs, financial statements, extra sets of keys, mail and other items that could compromise their identity security or financial security, or that might be easy to pocket. Arrive at the open house early enough to walk through it with listing clients and help them flag and put away any items of value they might have missed.
  • Turn on the lights and open the curtains while you’re walking through the house with clients — this will showcase the house in its best light, anyway!
  • Hang bells on outside doors of the listing when you’re sitting in an open house so that you can hear people entering and exiting the property.
  • When you’re killing time at an open house, do it in a room that has good reception and where you have the most escape routes.
  • Definitely bring your mobile device — think twice about bringing the laptop and purse to an open house or showing. Those are probably better off stashed in the trunk of your car, and you’re probably better off stashing them there before you drive to the open house, not after you arrive.
  • Have open house guests sign in. Offer some kind of giveaway so they’re more likely to give you a valid email address, or a door prize drawing that they can cash in with a code emailed or text-messaged to them.
  • Ask open house guests to see business cards and even photo IDs (consider giving away a case of beer or a few bottles of wine for the door prize if you feel like you need an excuse or a reason to ask). Snap a photo of them so you have a record of who was in the house and approximately when, just in case you need it.
  • Prospects should always walk in front of you — women faced with a “ladies first” insistence can fall back on demurring that the client should really walk through the home and experience it without someone in front of him or her.
  • Don’t walk into rooms with no escape routes (examples include walk-in closets, laundry rooms, basements, attics and many bathrooms). Point them out and allow clients to walk through them independently.

When meeting clients for the first time

Another reality of your life: You will meet with strangers who want to work with you. How do you do that in a way that isn’t flirting with disaster?

  • Find out as much information about your prospective client as you can before meeting. Verify their identity — ask for their full name, contact information and a photo of their driver’s license and use a program likeVerify Photo IDto, well, verify it.
  • Don’t ever meet a client alone for the first time. The Realtor Safe Harbor appcan help you find a meeting place if you aren’t sure where to go.
  • Vet clients on social mediaand Google before you meet them for the first time. If they aren’t on social media at all but have told you they have a job that indicates they should be, that’s one red flag. Keep your eyes open for posts that indicate unstable personalities, and do your best to ensure that what you find on social media and the rest of the internet about your client doesn’t contradict what your client has told you.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, or the client is being extra pushy, that’s a hint to be extra careful. All-cash offers that are contingent on you dropping everything to show a property? That might be a scenario where you want to absolutely insist on bringing a buddy or two with you.

On the internet/in marketing materials

Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com

You need to market your business — but there is such a thing as too much information. Here’s how to keep your personal identity separate from your public one online:

  • Use a separate email address for home and work.
  • Get mail for work? Have it sent to your brokerage office or to a P.O. Box.
  • Consider separate lines for home and work. This might not be realistic, but a service like Google Voice can route calls from a Google Voice number to your “main” line.
  • What can you discover about yourself using Google, FacebookTwitter,Instagramor other places where your digital presence might be public? Open an “incognito” tab or sign in to a public computer and do some recon on yourself. Plug any holes that reveal more than you are comfortable sharing.
  • Is your birthday listed on your social media profiles? Some companies use birthdays to confirm identity — so you could be handing a scammer the keys to your account. Consider making that information private.
  • Don’t wear expensive jewelry in your marketing photos, and if you feel compelled to post something like that on social media, make sure it’s only visible to a select few friends.
  • Don’t pose in front of your car or your personal residence.
  • If you’ll be away from your home for an extended period of time — for a vacation or a baseball game at a city an hour or two away, for example — wait until you get back home to post about how awesome it was.

Protecting your clients

  • Always obey the speed limit and all traffic laws when you are driving clients in your car; your ability to show concern for their safety will reflect well on you professionally. (Better yet, have them get to the property or meeting place on their own.)
  • Alert your clients about possible money-wiring scamswell before the time comes to work with earnest money, down payments or closing costs. Give them clear and explicit instructions about how to get their money safely from point A to point B, and continue repeating those instructions throughout the process.

In general

Is there more you can do to keep yourself or your employees safe? Always!

  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right about a client or situation, don’t hesitate to get yourself out immediately. You might not understand in the moment what behavior or turn of phrase triggered that gut feeling, but you’ll never be sorry you heeded it.
  • Consider taking a self-defense course. Many police departments offer courses geared toward women specifically and for affordable rates. Brokerages, consider hosting these at least once a year for your agents. A good program will include both practical ways to keep yourself safe (like all the suggestions above) as well as hands-on training for breaking holds so you feel confident that you will know what to do if that moment arises.
  • People who want your information will go to great lengths to get it. Know under what circumstances your doctor, dentist or even your vet might give out your contact or home address information. All of those service providers will likely be happy to give that information only under the circumstances you delineate.
  • Let people know where you are going! Put appointments or meetings on your Google calendar with names and contact information and make it public to your brokerage office, or use an app to alert a network of friends that you’re heading out. Don’t ever venture out, to meet anyone or attend to something by yourself, for work or pleasure, without telling at least two people (preferably more) where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Document and report any safety concerns to the appropriate authority — whether that’s your broker or the police.
  • Wear clothes that you can move around in.
  • Don’t walk around with your nose in your phone or juggling a bunch of items. Walk with purpose and look alert.
  • The more physically fit you are, the better able to deal with a dangerous circumstance you will be. You want your body in good enough shape to handle the adrenaline rush and then run away effectively, so train accordingly, whatever that means for you.
  • Put a decent passcode lock on your smartphone, and if you have an iPhone, make sure Find My iPhone is enabled so you can remotely wipe your device if the need arises.

Considering carrying a weapon to keep you safe? By all means — but please make sure you are comprehensively trained in its use, and do not reveal it to anyone unless you are prepared to use it on them. If you hesitate, your attacker could take the weapon away from you, turning a very bad situation into an even worse one.

Posted by Amber Taufen on Inman

5 Simple Ways Regular Home Maintenance Improves Your Security

Home Security has never been a “one and done” thing, and it never should be. Homeowners want to make sure that their home security is constantly evolving and being maintained so that it can always keep them and their family safe. Regular home maintenance is one of the best ways to make sure that your home security measures are consistently working, and it presents homeowners with the opportunity to improve their safety. Let’s take a look at some of the simple ways regular home maintenance helps improve the security of your home.

1. Helps Find Flaws and Damage

Performing regularly scheduled home maintenance gives homeowners the opportunity to perform check ups in and around their home. This helps them ensure that theirwindows and doors are functioning properly and that none of them have broken locks that could lead to home breaches. For instance, homeowners could have increased the security of the lock on their doors, but their door might still be a weak link because the material itself is weak. Even if the door was once fine, it may have been damaged over time by rot or weathering. This is a common thing that homeowners miss, because they do not put much value into home maintenance.

2. Reduces Family Safety and Health Risks

Home Security isn’t only limited to keeping the bad guys out of your home. Your home security also encompasses the act of keeping yourself and your family safe. Carrying out regular maintenance helps reduce safety and health risks within the home. It is important for homeowners to schedule maintenance on their air filters, fireplaces and even on their floors. This helps them make sure that nothing is malfunctioning and it will help prevent any unlikely occurrence.

3. Improves The Appearance Of Your Home

The way your home looks plays a major role in your overall home security. Burglars are less likely to target a home that looks as if it is being well kept because, more often than not, it denotes that the occupants are aware of what goes on around their home. It is important to trim your shrubbery, mow your lawn, and give the exterior of your home an overall clean look. This ensures that you have a clear line of sight while you are inside your home. In addition, regularly maintaining the exterior of your home means that there will be nothing left lying (gift boxes, bicycles etc.) that will spark the interest of potential burglars.

4. Making Sure Appliances Work

The playing field for home security is rapidly evolving, and many homeowners are taking advantage of home security systems and home automation. The act of performing regular home maintenance checks gives homeowners the opportunity to ensure that their home security appliances are functioning the way they are supposed to. For instance, if you own a home security system that relies on sensors around your doors or windows, you want to make sure it works, right? This is why maintenance checks are supremely important. They allow homeowners to make sure that their homes are actually secure.

5. Helps Save Money

Regularly scheduled maintenance also improves home security by helping homeowners save money. Maintenance gives homeowners the opportunity to cut the cost of utility bills and it also eliminates the need for repairs on things that were damaged because they were not well maintained. The act of maintaining your home frees up more capital that homeowners can, in turn, use to make their homes safer with home security upgrades.

Conclusion

Home maintenance is important, and it is a task that homeowners need to carry out diligently to ensure that their homes are constantly being kept secure. Home maintenance and home security go hand in hand and work so that homeowners have absolute peace of mind.

Posted by Ralph Goodman on HomeZada