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Home Safety

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I make my home safer?

    HOME SAFETY

    Home is wherever you hang your fire extinguisher.

    The perfect home environment should include safety stuff, too: smoke alarms, CO detectors, fire extinguishers and more. They can make the difference when you need it most.

    Find (add GFIC outlets?)
    Rooms with water need working ground fault interrupting outlets (GFIC). So test ‘em. Then take a tour. Look for overloaded outlets, daisy chain extension cords and appliances that could be knocked into a sink or tub. Finally, if curious little fingers are around, install spring-loaded outlet covers.

    Fright (near detectors)
    The natural habitat for smoke and CO detectors is at the top of stairs, near bedrooms and between the garage/furnace and living spaces. Replace batteries at least once a year, and detectors every five.

    Fight (near extinguisher)
    Have a working fire extinguisher on every floor – in the kitchen and near sleeping areas, for sure. And remember, aim low.

    Flight (add escape ladder?)
    Make an escape plan and make sure everyone in the family knows it – and where to meet. Get an escape ladder if you have a multi-story home, practice, and put it in a smart place.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Backyard Safety

    Lawn mowing and landscaping top the list of household chores when it comes to preparing for backyard parties and barbecues. The simple act of yard work can be riddled with opportunities for injuries if you’re not careful. The Home Safety Council recommends the following tips to make sure your backyard doesn’t become an injury trap:

    • Wear protective goggles and ear protection while using outdoor machinery to prevent sight and hearing-loss injuries.
    • Keep all garden tools out of children’s reach and store them with tines, blades or spikes pointing downward.
    • Fuel mowers outside and only when the motor is completely cool. If necessary, store small quantities of gasoline outside the home in a detached garage or shed, tightly sealed in an approved safety container and out of the sight and reach of children.
    • Start the mower outdoors to avoid raising carbon monoxide levels inside the home or garage.
    • Store pesticides in their original containers and out of the reach of children, and only mix and store pesticides in containers not used for eating or drinking.
    • Clear sidewalks and pathways of any toys and clutter to avoid falls.
    • Make sure all play areas are equipped with proper shock-absorbing materials, such as 9 inches of wood chips, mulch or shredded rubber.*

    *Consumer Product Safety Commission

    For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit www.homesafetycouncil.org.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I need a glove to work in chemicals.

    Use a neoprene-treated glove. It is chemical resistant.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners

    Adequate light is essential for visitors and trick-or-treaters to see where they are going. If you plan on welcoming trick-or-treaters, leave the porch light on.

    Make sure your property is well lit.
    Replace burned-out bulbs in exterior lights. If needed, install additional lights in the front yard to avoid someone tripping over something he or she can’t see. If you won’t be home for trick-or-treating, turn your lights off to discourage children from approaching your property.

    All lighting should be grounded.
    You don’t want to overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or movable decorative objects. All outdoor lighting should be grounded, including low-voltage outdoor security lights and any Halloween lights. Be sure and only use covered electric outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

    Keep walkways clear.
    Make sure all walkways and the front yard are clean and clutter-free to prevent falls. Put your car in the garage. Lock your garage doors. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and stairs. Move bikes, garden hoses, potted plants and skateboards away from areas that are likely to be walked on by groups of people. Decorative items and jack-o-lanterns should also be positioned at a safe distance from crowds to prevent people from knocking them over or tripping on them. Remember, kids often run from house to house and they don't always stay on sidewalks, so, if you're setting up a display, make sure it is well lit and visible. If you're building a lawn display make sure to keep walkways clear. And don't run cords over sidewalks where people might trip over them or hurt themselves.

    When it comes to jack-o-lanterns, safety first.
    If you plan to use candles in your jack-o-lanterns, keep them far away from primary walkways. This will help cut down on the fire hazards, such as costumes, props or decorations catching on fire. A great alternative to open flames is to use battery powered light sources or light sticks.  

    Make sure your little trick-or-treaters are visible to drivers.
    Add reflector strips to your child’s costume, or have them carry a flash light or light stick to make them more visible at night. This will not only assure they are seen by drivers, but will also help you keep an eye on them if they get ahead of you.

    Keep your pets inside.
    Pets are easily frightened on Halloween, so keeping them inside will protect them from cars or inadvertently biting a trick-or-treater.

    Assure you have home security.
    If you will be away from your home during Halloween, don’t forget to set your security alarm system before you go. This is a prime time of year for mischief and burglaries.  To increase your home’s safety, you can also activate motion-sensitive lights and alert your neighbors that you will be away.

    Test Your Smoke Alarms.
    With jack-o-lanterns being a popular staple of Halloween, don’t forget to test your smoke alarms well in advance of the Halloween celebrations.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Carbon Monoxide Safety

    The dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) gas have been far too apparent over the years, as countless deaths occur annually as a result of CO inhalation. Without the proper detection equipment, there's virtually no way you'd be aware that this colorless, odorless, tasteless gas was affecting you and your family.

    Scientifically speaking, carbon monoxide is caused by the incomplete combustion of carbon containing compounds in circumstances where oxygen supply is limited. In other words, low oxygen in the combustion (burning) environment prevents the gaseous byproduct from being turned into carbon dioxide (CO2), and if you're breathing air right now, you know CO2 is not as dangerous as CO.

    The most common 'offenders' in the creation of this dangerous gas are all around us: exhaust from cars and other motor vehicles with internal combustion engines, wood-burning stoves, portable camping stoves and other propane-fueled equipment, even house fires.

    Invest in a CO detector for your home, keep it up-to-date with battery changes, and listen to it... if the alarm sounds, take it seriously.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What can I do to add security to my door?

    Consider installing a stronger strikeplate - these are larger and have much longer screws.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Five Steps to a Healthier HomeGreen Content

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the air inside our homes may be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. What's surprising is that this statistic does not exclude newer homes, which can actually test higher than older residences in terms of poor indoor air quality.

    In a rush to conserve energy in the 1970s, builders, architects and designers began building tighter homes with energy efficient windows and doors and thicker insulation in an effort to seal out potential drafts. While we succeeded in lowering the cost of energy bills, we ended up adding to the problem of trapping volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - harmful fumes caused by leftover building products, furniture, animal dander, and indoor mildew and mold - inside our homes.

    Today, Americans spend millions of dollars each year on indoor air filtration systems. We purchase everything from small, tabletop models to whole-house units for our homes. And yet, even with all the information available on the market, there is major debate on which ones truly work the best.

    Below are five steps that you can take to improve your home's indoor air quality. By following these steps and coupling them with the right indoor air purifying unit, you'll breathe a lot easier in your own home.

    Step One -- Test your home for possible contaminants.

    Today, there are a number of in-home test kits available to assess everything from lead on walls and in your drinking water, to asbestos and radon gas. And utilizing these inexpensive kits can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you and your family are safe.

    Step Two -- If you have a forced air heating system, have the air ducts cleaned regularly and upgrade to better furnace air filters.

    Homeowners often ask, "Is cleaning my air ducts worth it?" The answer is yes. Even if your home is new, you may have more internal construction debris and dust than a home that is 10 to 15 years old. When getting your air ducts cleaned, make sure the contractor is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (www.nadca.com), and uses not only high velocity air, but a whip that is fed through the ductwork to loosen any debris stuck to the walls of the sheet-metal. The average cost to clean ductwork in your home is about $300 to $500, but the results are well worth the expense.

    In conjunction, for many of us, the furnace filter is a spun glass filter that costs less than a dollar. While this filter will protect the blower motor, it will do next to nothing when it comes to improving your indoor air quality. Upgrade to a pleated filter that captures smaller particles so small that even the naked eye cannot see. The key is to change them regularly - every couple of months should do - to prevent to the restriction of airflow through your heating system.

    Step Three -- Keep your home as clean as possible.

    According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), an estimated 57 million Americans suffer from severe allergies and asthma and keeping your home as clean as possible can dramatically improve the air you breathe. Dusting window treatments, around window and door trim and those out-of-reach areas can make a huge impact. Use a bagless vacuum cleaner that utilizes a HEPA filter to maximize your cleaning power and avoid the plume of dust that occurs when you'd otherwise change the bag.

    Step Four -- Consider purchasing an indoor air purifier.

    Because they can vary in performance, size and cost, it's important that you find the right purifier to fit your needs. There are a number of Web sites you can turn to for help. One of the industry standards is put forth by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers' (AHAM) Air Cleaner Council (www.aham.org). There, testing helps set certain parameters so that all purification units are measured against the same criteria. If you're thinking of a particular model and in search of its product rating guide, visit www.cadr.org for the unit's "clean air delivery rate." In turn, take advantage of the 30-day free trial offer many manufacturers offer. By the end of 30 days, you'll know if you are breathing easier and if the unit is worth the investment.

    HEPA filtration (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is one of the most common approaches to cleaning the air. A good quality HEPA filtering system can be up to 99.97 percent efficient at filtering particulates that are 0.3 microns from the air. This filtering system has been widely used and accepted by organizations promoting indoor air quality standards to clean the indoor air of smoke, dust, pollen, mold spores and pet dander.

    Portable units, when sized correctly, can do a good job of cleaning the air in a particular room. But the key is to make sure that unit is sized for the square footage of that room. In addition, the faster the fan runs, the more air is exchanged through the unit. While this does increase the noise, the units will work much better.

    HEPA room purifiers can range in price from $30 to $300. These units use a modular filter system which makes finding and installing the filters much easier.

    Step Five -- Protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector.

    It used to be that smoke detectors were enough to protect your family. However, in recent years, homeowners across America have been taking safety a step further by installing carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.

    When installing a carbon monoxide detector, remember that the placement of that detector is key. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you are asleep; however, additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provides extra protection.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I have small children. Will this garage door opener stop if they get in the way?

    Yes, since 1990 all garage doors are required to have an optical sensor and/or a door edge sensor that will stop or reverse the door.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • A Guide To Fire Prevention

    The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), who sponsors Fire Prevention Week (the week of Oct. 9), reports that while 95 percent of U.S. homes have smoke alarms, 70 percent of home fire deaths occur where there is no working alarm. What's more, about half of the 2,670 people killed in home fires in 2002 died between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the prime sleep hours, even though only one-fourth of home fires occurred during those times. Those most affected by the lack of warning are young children and the elderly.

    Indeed, these are frightening statistics. But there is something you can do to help prevent fires and detect them before they get out of control. After all, safety should never take a vacation, and planning for an emergency just makes good sense. Here are some tips to ensure that you and your family are safe and secure:

    Smoke Alarms

    Install them if you have none, and check the ones you do have. Press the test button once a month and change batteries every year. Also, smoke alarms older than 10 years are more likely to fail. Consider installing one of the newest alarm innovations that features both a voice and alarm warning.

    Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms

    Equally as important as smoke alarms is having a unit that will alert you of high levels of carbon monoxide in the home. Check the unit's packaging and also with your local fire department to learn more about what constitutes a hazardous CO reading. Some manufacturers now offer units that combine smoke and CO protection.

    Heating Equipment

    Heating equipment is a leading factor in home fires during winter months. Be sure to have furnaces serviced by a reputable inspector, cleaned and maintained each fall before cold weather sets in. When operating portable or fixed space heaters, be conscious to keep them away from items that could ignite, including drapes and articles of clothing.

    Personal Habits

    Be conscious of where you are when you do the things you do. Smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths, sending bedding, trash and furniture up in flames. More fires start in the kitchen than any other place in the home, so keep a watchful eye on what you're cooking. Candle fires have tripled over the last 10 years, with some 40 percent of those fires beginning in a bedroom.

    Flammables

    Ensure that flammables, such as gasoline, kerosene and paints, are kept in proper containers, tightly sealed and stored away from heat and flame. Never store any of those items near a furnace or hot water heater, and be sure to follow manufacturer instructions on storing these types of products.

    Extinguishers

    Many small home fires can be taken care of using a fire extinguisher before they get out of hand. The National Safety Council's Web site, www.nsc.org, suggests keeping an extinguisher rated for grease and electrical fires in the kitchen. Also place properly-rated units near the furnace and in the garage. One thing to remember, though, is that extinguishers do not last forever. Even if the needle is 'in the green,' plan on replacing the unit about every three years.

    Escape Plan and Practice

    Whether you already have a plan mapped out or you need to develop a new one, use Fire Safety Week as a good excuse to do something worthwhile. You can find detailed information on the NFPA Web site: www.firepreventionweek.org.

    Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is a trigger lock and how does it work?

    A trigger lock is a two-piece lock that fits over a gun’s trigger and trigger guard to prevent a gun from being fired. They’re available in versions with keys or combinations.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • My smoke detector beeped last night, but there was no smoke. What is wrong with it?

    This is a warning signal that the batteries are low. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should consider replacing it, just to make sure that you have one that is in good working order.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Do I need to worry about carbon monoxide in my home?

    If you have a gas or oil furnace, dryer, refrigerator, water heater, space heater, fireplace, wood stove or gas range, then you need to be concerned. These can all be sources of carbon monoxide gas.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Fire Safety

    Your room-by-room fire hazard checklist should include:

    Living Room

    • Open the flue or damper before starting a fire in your fireplace, every time.
    • Keep all flammables at least three feet away from the fireplace.
    • Place a sturdy fireplace screen in front of the fireplace.
    • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year.
    • Keep candles and lamps at least one foot away from your curtains.
    • Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets.
    • Use large, deep ashtrays. Never leave a burning cigarette unattended.

    Bedroom

    • Never use candles in your bedroom.
    • Keep all lamps free of flammable materials.
    • Don’t run electrical cords under rugs.
    • Replace and repair loose or frayed electrical cords.
    • Don’t allow permanent use of extension cords.
    • Don’t staple or nail electrical cords.
    • Never smoke in bed.
    • Never leave heavy objects on the bed when an electric blanket is in use.
    • Install a carbon monoxide alarm near bedrooms.

    Bathroom

    • Don’t overload outlets with cords from too many appliances. Plug them in one at a time.
    • If an outlet or switch feels unusually warm, stop using it and call an electrician.
    • Never set hot appliances on flammable materials.
    • Unplug all appliances when done using them.
    • Make sure cords from appliances are not getting pinched in drawers.
    • Keep towels and other flammables at least three feet away from space heaters.

    Hallway

    • Install ceiling-mounted smoke alarms that are at least four inches away from the walls on every level of your home.
    • Ensure smoke alarms are UL listed.
    • Wall-mounted smoke alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
    • Don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors or ducts.
    • Test your smoke alarms once a month.
    • Vacuum your smoke alarms every six months.
    • Change your smoke alarm batteries at least once a year. Make sure batteries are always in smoke alarms.

    Kitchen

    • If you have a fire extinguisher, be sure you are properly trained to use it.
    • Make sure the fire extinguisher is for multi-purpose use.
    • Keep the fire extinguisher in a place where it is easy to access.
    • Never leave anything on the stove or under the broiler unattended.
    • Keep the cooking area clear of items that can burn.
    • Maintain a three-foot kid-free and pet-free zone around the stove.
    • Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing while you are cooking.

    Basement

    • Have your heating system serviced once a year before cold weather begins.
    • When buying a new unit, have a qualified technician install it or check that it was installed properly.
    • Choose a heating device with an automatic shutoff feature.
    • Make sure your clothes dryer is installed and serviced by a professional.
    • Have a gas-powered dryer inspected by a professional at least once a year to check flexible gas lines for damage and proper connection, and to ensure all piping is free of leaks.
    • Keep areas around heating sources clear of debris and insulated from the heating source.
    • Be sure to clean the lint tray in your dryer before each use and check around the drum for any accumulated lint.
    • Do not store clothing or other combustibles any closer than one foot from the dryer.
    • Do not let your dryer continue running when you leave your home.

    For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit www.homesafetycouncil.org.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • A Fire Prevention Plan Saves Lives and Home Property

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fire is the second-leading cause of accidental death in the home. So how can you protect your family from this hazard?

    While most of us understand the value of smoke alarms, these should only be one part of your overall home fire prevention plan. There are many other ways to protect your family from fire.

    Here is some advice on how to help your family stay safe:

    • Have at least one smoke alarm on each floor. It's an inexpensive - and imperative - first line of defense against fire. Place smoke alarms outside bedrooms and keep them in working order by testing them monthly and replacing batteries once a year.
    • Install carbon monoxide detectors. These inexpensive devices could help alert your family to toxic fumes. Place them near bedrooms alongside smoke detectors, and in the same rooms as gas-burning appliances like furnaces and water heaters.
    • Guard against electrical fires. Inspect electrical cords regularly and discard if they are frayed. Never plug too many cords into a single socket, and keep the cords away from sources of heat and water.
    • Use appliances with care. Appliances can overheat, resulting in flames and smoke. Keep cords and wires out from under rugs, hanging over nails or in the middle of a high traffic area. An unusual smell emitting from an appliance is a warning sign, so replace old or broken parts immediately.
    • Use portable heaters wisely. Every year you read news stories during the winter about fires caused by portable heaters. You must be extremely careful when using these devices. Keep heaters at least three feet away from furniture, curtains, bed linens, clothing and any other combustible items.
    • Safety-proof your fireplace. Use a heavy, well-built screen to prevent rolling logs and make sure that the screen is large enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to keep flying sparks and hot embers inside. Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
    • Retrofit security bars on windows. While security bars are a smart way to keep intruders out, they can also impede escape in the event of a fire. Retrofit the bars with quick release devices.
    • Have a fire escape plan. Your final step should be an evacuation plan. The plan should include at least two ways out of every room in your home. Make sure to share it with every household member and practice it occasionally.

    Remember, your home should be the place where your family feels most safe, so take the steps necessary to give them the added reassurance.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

     

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How long should a smoke detector last?

    While you may think your smoke detector sits idle until smoke is detected, in reality it's constantly monitoring the air 24 hours a day. So an ionization smoke detector goes through 3.5 million monitoring cycles in 10 years. In a photoelectric smoke detector, a light operates 24 hours a day to check for smoke particles in the air. And just like any electrical appliance, the components of smoke detectors wear out over time. When a smoke alarm reaches 10 years of use, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases substantially. Replacing them after 10 years reduces the likelihood of failure.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What products do you sell that will help childproof my home?

    Child resistant locks on cabinets, electrical outlet covers, additional smoke alarms and gun locks are some of the products you should consider.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Tips to Tighten Up Your Home's Security

    It only takes one unlocked window to invite a thief into your home. And, although nearly 2.5 million burglaries occur each year, a new study by Ace Hardware reveals 79 percent of people feel 'very safe' in their homes. This last statistic breeds a false sense of comfort and suggests there is more homeowners should do to defend their dwellings.

    Follow these tips for tightening up your home's security:

    Door locks are deterrents

    Many would-be burglars won't hesitate to use the front door, so turn them away with a good deadbolt. There are two types of deadbolts, single cylinder and double cylinder. Single cylinder locks are keyed on the outside with a thumb-turn knob on the inside and are good for general entry doors. Double cylinder locks are keyed on both the outside and the inside and are good for entry doors flanked by windows.

    Security that makes the grade

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) uses a grading system to gauge the safety and security of door locks. Grade 3 locksets are the most cost-effective and provide low-level residential security. Grade 2 locksets meet light commercial building requirements and provide medium safety at a medium price. Grade 1 locksets, though somewhat more costly, meet stringent commercial building requirements and provide maximum residential security. Generally, a Grade 2 lock is sufficient for most homes.

    Windows and patio doors

    Some of the easiest entry points into the home are windows and patio doors. Make sure these are always shut tight and locked, especially if they can be accessed from the first floor. For single- and double-hung windows, make sure the sash locks work properly. For sliding windows and patio doors, consider installing a security bar to prevent unwanted opening of the unit.

    Security lighting

    It's hard for thieves to use the cover of darkness when they can't find any, so keep the areas surrounding your home well-lit, especially around points of entry. Decorative lighting around the perimeter of your home serves a dual purpose, while motion activated lights on the side of the house and near the back door keep the darkness, and the burglars, away.

    Shrubbery

    Make sure bushes and tree branches are trimmed to prevent the landscaping from serving as a hiding placed for burglars.

    Having a secure home doesn't require unsightly barred windows or solid-steel entry doors. Choose security options that fit your home's décor. Interior window locks as well as light fixtures and door handles are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes to suit your needs.

    Tightening up your home is an investment in the safety of you and your family. Spend a little time and money upfront to prevent having to make up for damages and lost property later.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

     

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Is there a special extension cord for my window air conditioner?

    Yes, you need to use a major appliance cord. A regular extension cord doesn't have heavy enough wire to safely conduct the necessary current.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Ladder Safety

    Here are a few ladder do's and don'ts:

    • DO position extension ladders correctly. For stability, a ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. This is not as tricky to calculate as it sounds: If it's a 12-foot ladder, that means it has to be positioned 3 feet from the house. For a 16-foot ladder, make it 4 feet. There is also a sticker on the side of ladders that illustrates the angle that the ladder should be placed. It looks like a capital 'L,' with the bottom of the 'L' parallel to the ground.
    • DON'T carry an extension ladder upright as you move it. This is a maneuver best saved for the clowns at the circus. You could easily lose control of it in this position, smashing windows and gutters along the way, and knocking into power lines. Instead, lower it and carry it parallel to the ground.
    • DO make sure the ladder is positioned on a level surface. DON'T try to use rocks or bricks to prop up one side of it, figure these will fail just as soon as you reach the top.
    • DON'T ever work on ladders alone. A helper can keep you from making stupid mistakes, such as having the ladder fall down while you're stuck up alone on the roof (I speak from experience).

    If there's one guiding principle with respect to ladders, it's this: If you feel squeamish, don't go up. Period. Perhaps this tip should have been closer to the top, as it's perhaps one of the most important safety pieces I can think of. Confidence working on a ladder comes from knowledge of the proper safety procedures and experience exercising that knowledge properly. Well, that and not falling off of one.

    Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Where should I install smoke detectors?

    For maximum safety and the earliest detection possible, you should have a smoke detector in every room of your house. If you don’t install a smoke detector in every room, make sure you have one in every bedroom and in hallways between bedrooms. If possible, have your smoke detectors wired together so that all of them will sound an alarm if one of them is triggered.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Grilling Safety

    The U.S. fire department responds to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires. These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 deaths, 120 injuries and $70 million in direct property damage. To make sure your next barbecue doesn't go up in flames, the Home Safety Council recommends the following safety tips:

    • Check the tank hose on a gas grill at the beginning of the grilling season by applying a light soap and water solution to it. If you see bubbles, there's a leak. Turn off the grill and have it serviced. If the leak doesn't stop when the tank is shut off, call the fire department.
    • Check tubes going to the burner for blockages caused by insects or grease.
    • Clean grease out of trays below the grill to prevent uncontrolled flame-ups.
    • Designate the grilling area a 'No Play Zone', keeping kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.
    • Before using, position your grill at least 3 feet away from other objects, including the house and any shrubs or bushes.
    • Only use starter fluid made for barbecue grills when starting a fire in a charcoal grill.
    • Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to be sure it is working properly and not leaking.
    • Never use a match to check for leaks. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill again until the leak is fixed.
    • Never bring a barbecue grill indoors or into any unventilated space. This is both a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning hazard.

    For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit www.homesafetycouncil.org.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is radon gas and how do I protect my family from it?

    Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that can collect in hazardous concentrations in areas like the basement. A radon detector in your basement will help keep your family safe.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What is the best type of fire extinguisher to have in my kitchen and my garage?

    A dry-chemical extinguisher marked general-purpose or multi-purpose is best for home use.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance

    The most recent statistics show that fireplace fires cause more than 68,000 home fires annually. Without proper maintenance and cleaning, your newspaper kindling could quickly turn into a disaster, causing thick black smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) to enter your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones.

    Your fireplace is the perfect way to keep warm and cozy as the weather begins to cool. Keep friends and family safe and healthy by following these tips to prevent a fireplace fiasco:

    Call a Professional

    Have a professional chimney sweep inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney every year. It may not appear as though anything is wrong, but there's a whole lot more going on inside the chimney than you may think. Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America at www.csia.org for information on contacting a chimney sweep professional in your area.

    Keep Critters Out

    Birds and other animals like to live in warm areas when the weather gets cooler, and the chimney is one of the first places they'll call 'home.' Install a chimney cap to prevent animals and debris from getting in. Construction materials range from practical wire mesh to more elaborate and decorative brass and bronze. A brief consultation at your local Ace store will help you find one that meets your needs while keeping unwanted visitors at bay.

    A Flue that Works for You

    When lighting a fire, always be sure that the flue has been opened properly, and likewise, make sure it closes tightly after the fire has been extinguished. This not only minimizes health and safety risks but can also lower energy costs by reducing the influx of cold air into the house. To test how airtight your flue is, close it all the way and feel inside the fireplace for drafts - if you can feel cool air coming through and cracks or crevices, your flue may require repair or replacement. Chimney professionals will often recommend installing a damper on top of the chimney, which can be opened and closed from the inside and will seal out drafts when the fireplace is not in use.

    Fireplace and chimney fires can easily be prevented if you follow these simple tips.

    Credit:  Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

     

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How do I childproof my house?

    Small children see the world different than you. In order to fully childproof your home, you need to get down on a child’s level to see what they see, so that you can see the dangers and do what it takes to correct them. Some good general starting points:

    • Post emergency numbers, including police, fire, ambulance, doctor’s number, emergency room and poison control in a central location, such as a refrigerator.
    • All outlets should have cover plates and outlet covers. Leave appliances unplugged when you’re not using them.
    • All bedrooms and hallways should have smoke detectors.
    • All windows should have window stops that are easily removed by an adult (in case the window needs to be used as an exit in an emergency).
    • All cords to window blinds should be out of reach or cut in half to prevent strangulation.
    • All doors should have hook-and-eye latches installed in case you need to keep a child out of that room. Take off door locks on bathrooms and bedrooms to prevent children from accidentally locking themselves in the room.
    • All cabinet and cupboard doors should also be latched.
    • Keep all detergents, chemicals and drugs out of reach.
    • Install lid locks on your toilets.
      Turn down your water heater to prevent scalding (120º F or less).
    • Keep step stools in a latched closet.
    • Contain your trash in a bin with a lockable lid.
    • Keep houseplants out of reach.
    • Use safety gates to contain children in the room with you. Place safety gates at the bottom and top of all staircases.
      Use bumpers on furniture corners.
    • Secure your bookshelves, media shelves, curio cabinets and entertainment cabinets to the wall to prevent heavy pieces of furniture from topping over onto children.
    • Keep all matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • What type of padlock holds up best in the weather?

    While brass padlocks will hold up better in the weather than standard ones, most people are happier with the plastic weatherproof casing. Obviously, the brass ones provide a decorative option.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • I am going on vacation. Are there any easy-to-use products that will turn my lights on and off so it looks as if the house is occupied?

    Yes, there are a variety of timers that simply plug in. There are corded and cordless options to choose from, and there are also timers dedicated to protect your home during vacations.

    There are many other ways to keep your home safe from harm.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Playing It Safe - Seasonal Safety Guide

    Fruitcake isn't the only holiday health hazard lurking in your home. Here's a seasonal survival guide.

    As the holidays near, we scramble to buy last-minute gifts, decorate the house, and plan parties and get-togethers. In the rush, however, many of us abandon our sense of safety. Who among us, for instance, hasn't stood on their tip-toes on top of a rickety ladder to hang lights? Or strung strand after strand together until we've overloaded an outlet, which can start a fire?

    This season, let's help everyone be a little safer around the home. Let's start with ladders; which pose the greatest risk of all, especially as we hang lights and decorations inside and out. Last year, there were an estimated 171,000 ladder-related accidents in the U.S., according to the American Ladder Institute, which is an astounding number. We're not always careful with them, to say the least, and think nothing of using old relics that have been handed down to us from our parents, broken rungs and all. It's time to put this foolishness to an end:

    • Position extension ladders correctly. For stability, an extension ladder has to be planted with its feet one-quarter of its extended length away from the house. This is not tricky to calculate. If you've got a 12-foot ladder, it has to be positioned 3 feet from the house.
    • Don't carry a ladder upright as you move it. This is a maneuver best saved for the clowns at the circus. You could easily lose control of it in this position, crashing furniture inside, and smashing windows, gutters and even power lines outside. Instead, lower it and carry it parallel to the ground.
    • Make sure the ladder is positioned on a level surface. Don't try to use rocks or bricks to prop up one side of it; those will surely pop out as you're climbing up.

    OK, so now you won't end up as a Ladder Institute statistic, but don't celebrate with the eggnog just yet. We've still got the lighting issue to address. The key here is not to overload an electrical outlet, especially if you have only a single outdoor outlet that you use to power a dozen strings of lights and a few spotlights. Attempt this, and the result will be more like the Fourth of July than Christmas, as sparks and smoke fill the night sky. To do things right:

    • Follow the instructions on the strands of lights. These will tell you how many can be connected together and plugged into a single outlet. This is typically only two or three, not 10 or 12.
    • Make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a GFCI receptacle. That's the one with the reset button in the center for safety. If you don't have one outdoors, have the outlet replaced or purchase a 'plug in' adapter. This cord system is about 2 feet long and will protect against electrocution if there's a short circuit.

    One other thing: Be careful with lit candles. Don't put them near combustibles, such as that evergreen spray in the center of the dining room table. And remember to blow them out when the party's over. A trick my wife and I use to remember this is to set the timer on the stove to go off just around the time when we think the party will have ended. This reminds us to extinguish the candles before we go to bed.

    Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Where should I keep a fire extinguisher in my home?

    Don't mount it too close to where a fire is likely to occur. For example, don't keep it next to the stove. A good place is at the top of the stairs or near a workshop. In most cases, it's a good idea to have a fire extinguisher for every 600 square feet of living

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • How can I help my fresh cut tree last longer this holiday season?

    If you cut a few inches off of the bottom of the tree trunk, this will expose the fresh wood and will allow for better water absorption. Also, heat from inside the home can dry out live trees very easily, so be sure that the tree’s stand is always filled with water.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

  • Where should I install carbon monoxide detectors?

    You should have at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your house. Place them in hallways near bedrooms. If there are no bedrooms on a particular floor, install one in or near the room that gets used most.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

    Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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