What does safety mean to you? For some, it means eliminating accidents and for others it’s synonymous with home security and keeping intruders out. Regardless of your definition, being safe is always a concern, whether you’re at work or at home, at school or on the road.
But we tend to take safety in the home for granted. After all, it’s our home, our sanctuary, our place to get away from the pressures of the outside world. How can it not be safe? Sadly, in lots of ways!
So let’s change that. As the pace of life slows down for many with the end of the school year and summer stretching out before us, let’s take a little time to review our homes and make sure we aren’t overlooking any hazards—especially because we might have summer visitors we also want to keep safe!
- Test smoke alarms on a regular basis, at least once every few weeks. Yes, keep changing out the batteries twice a year, but make sure the batteries are still good in the meantime. During the summer, people tend to be away from home more often and might not even know a battery has died if they weren’t there to hear the beeping noise it makes when it needs replacing.
- Have an escape plan in case of fire, and ladders to get you safely from second-story rooms to the ground outside. It might seem awkward, but go over the escape plan with your summer guests—to be on the safe side.
- Speaking of fire, if you have a fire pit outside, have safety rules for everyone who sits around the fire but particularly for little ones who could be running around and end up getting burned. Adhere to these rules! And make sure kids aren’t unattended by the fire.
- Check for lighting inside and out to make sure you’re eliminating trip hazards by making them visible. Think about people making their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night or walking up to your front door while it’s dark outside. Consider putting lights on timers or programming your home automation system so lights are always on when needed.
- Also check for trip hazards, such as hoses outside and throw rugs inside. Even if you’re used to stepping over them or treading lightly so you won’t slip, think in terms of company coming over and someone unaware taking a fall because they didn’t know to tread carefully on or around that rug. If you have stairs or other uneven footing guests won’t be aware of, consider putting down colorful tape so it’s easier to see.
- Make doubly sure anything poisonous is well out of reach of little ones, even if your kids are older or grown and gone, since you could very well have a young visitor. This applies inside and outside the house, if you have lawn care or gardening supplies stored in your garage, for example.
- Make kitchen safety a habit by keeping sharp and hot items away from the edges of countertops and tablecloths that can be pulled down. If you’re barbecuing outside, follow the same rules, keeping sharp and hot objects out of reach of little ones.
- Double check window locks and latches, to make sure kids can’t inadvertently get a window open and possibly fall.
This is only a partial list of tips for improving the safety of your home with summer and guests in mind. Obviously other outdoor items such as swimming pools, trampolines and even play equipment require strict safety rules that you’ll want to adhere to. But these tips above should serve as reminders that it’s safety first, even within the sanctuary of your home. If you’d like a much more comprehensive list of safety tips, Real Simple offers a detailed room-by-room guide.