How to keep your home safe and healthy.
1. Open some windows and let the fresh air into your home, especially if you are painting or installing new carpets or building products.
2. Use exhaust fans that vent to the outside when cooking, frying, sautéing or boiling water. Use the fan in the bathroom when having a shower. Removing the moisture will help prevent mould and exhaust pollutants.
3. Use low-emission products and building materials in your home.
4. Don’t allow smoking in your home.
5. To prevent scalding, set your water heater to below 50 C.
6. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and that it’s easy to reach.
7. If you have a woodstove, make sure the doors close tightly and it’s the proper size for the space. Clean the chimney every year, to ensure that particulate matter isn’t escaping into the home. Clean fireplace chimneys yearly as well.
8. Keep your furnace and ventilation systems properly maintained and change filters regularly. Furnaces should be inspected by a professional once a year.
9. How can you prevent a bedbug infestation? Check anything new that you are bringing into your home, particularly used books, antiques or used furniture or a new mattress that may have been transported in the same truck as used mattresses. Make sure new mattresses are sealed. Get rid of clutter in the home and vacuum often. Remove peeling wallpaper and seal cracks on walls that you share with neighbours or where pipes or wires enter your home.
10. Ask everyone to remove their shoes when entering your house.
11. Keep all household chemical products out of the reach of children and away from pets. Make sure medications are secured where children can’t reach them.
12. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, near sleeping areas. Test them regularly and replace weak or dead batteries. If you have hardwired smoke detectors, consider installing back-up battery operated units.
13. Install a carbon monoxide detector next to every sleeping room, especially if the home has a working fireplace or fuel-burning appliance, or if there’s an attached garage.
14. Make sure there is no snow or ice blocking the vents to dryers, fireplaces or stoves.
15. Plan and practice a fire escape plan with everyone who lives in the home.
16. If an appliance smells like it’s burning, unplug it and get it repaired or replaced.
17. Don’t overload electrical outlets or run extension cords under rugs or carpets. Don’t use fuses that are the incorrect size. Keep electrical cords away from heat and water. Replace cords that have cut, broken or cracked insulation. Put safety caps on unused plugs.
18. Don’t leave cooking unattended. Be alert when cooking and keep children away. Keep handles turned inward. If a pot catches fire, cover it with a lid and turn off the burner.
19. Keep portable space heaters at least one metre away from anything that could burn.
20. Never use a charcoal or propane barbecue indoors.
21. If using candles in the home, make sure they are far from anything that could catch fire. Don’t leave burning candles unattended when children are around. Make sure candles are out before you leave the room or go to bed.
22. Make sure your house number is visible both day and night, so emergency teams can find you if necessary.
23. Don’t store ladders or tools on the outside of your home — it’s too tempting for would-be thieves.
24. If you just bought a new TV or computer, don’t advertise the fact by leaving the boxes outside in plain view.
25. Always lock your car, even when it’s in your own driveway or garage. Close and lock all the windows and doors of the house when you are not home.
26. Don’t talk about vacation plans on social media. While you are away, have someone collect the mail, shovel the driveway or mow the lawn and park in your driveway.
27. The police say lighting is the most effective crime prevention tool. Use timers on indoor lights and motion sensor lights outside your home.
28. If you live in a condo building or apartment, don’t let strangers in. Check your storage locker frequently to make sure nothing has been stolen or tampered with. Install a door viewer so you know who is knocking.
29. Get to know your neighbours.
30. Do a home inventory of all your items. Take photos of the most valuable pieces and record serial numbers of electronics.
31. Consider installing a home monitoring system.
32. Have a first-aid kit handy.
33. Keep electrical cords out of walking pathways. Check your home for tripping hazards. Don’t pile things on the stairs. Avoid using scatter rugs. Use night lights.
34. Make sure indoor and outdoor stairs are in good repair and have handrails.
35. Consider adding grab bars beside toilets and in the bathtub or shower. Use a rubber mat in the bathtub and a non-skid mat beside it.
36. Keep curtains away from fireplaces, lamps and space heaters.
37. Every home should have a kit prepared in case of a prolonged power failure. It should include a flashlight, batteries, a three-day supply of water, canned food, a manual can opener, candles, waterproof matches, a battery-operated radio, an extra set of keys for the car and house and money.