The kids are out of schools. Friends and family are coming to visit. You’re planning a little getaway. Summer’s in full swing. But don’t let a vacation-mentality spoil your season. Take some commonsense precautions to protect yourself and your guests from accidents and your home from weather-related damage and unnecessary claims on your homeowners insurance. Here are 7 ways to keep your house safe and secure.
1. Pool Safety
- Even adept swimmers can accidentally drown. Never let anyone, regardless of skill level or age, swim unsupervised in your pool.
- Prevent unwanted entry into your pool when you’re not a home with perimeter fencing, alarm systems and a lockable pool cover.
- Install a pool alarm that alerts you if someone or something falls into the water.
- Keep a rescue device such as a float and a phone poolside.
2. Grill Smart
- Never use a charcoal or wood-burning grill in an enclosed space like a garage or covered porch. You’ll risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Place your grill at least 3 feet from any flammable structure or material, ideally on a nonflammable surface like pavers or concrete. That goes for fire pits, too.
- Use long fireplace matches or a long-necked butane lighter to ignite fires.
- Instead of relying on lighter fluid, invest in a fire-starter chimney to get coals going. If you must use lighter fluid, do it before you light the coals.
- To avoid becoming a winner on the annual Darwin list, don’t even think about using kerosene or gasoline to get a fire going.
- Replace any propane after its 10th summer. Store your extra propane tanks in an upright position far away from the heat source.
- Never leave the grill unattended by a responsible adult.
- Let coals cool completely before disposing of them in a metal container with a lid.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before igniting.
3. Food Safety
- Yes, you can be sued if a guest gets food poisoning at your backyard barbecue. Invest in a meat thermometer and cook meat, fish and poultry to the proper temperature to kill bacteria.
- Keep cold foods cold, in a well-insulated cooler until service and in bowls of ice while sitting out.
- Wash your hands and utensils after handling raw meat.
- Provide hand sanitizer for anyone handling food.
4. Bug Off
- Cover all food to prevent flies from spreading germs.
- Burn citronella candles to discourage mosquitos from feasting on you and your guests.
5. Don’t Be a Tool Fool
- Use extension cords designed for outdoor use on any power tool.
- Keep tools cleaned, sharpened and in good repair.
- Check all cords for damage before use.
- Don’t let children play where power tools including lawn mowers are being used.
- Keep tools safely locked away when not in use.
6. Summer-Proof Your Home
If you read the fine print in your homeowners insurance policy, you may find to your surprise that a claim can be denied if your insurer finds the damage was caused or exacerbated by neglect on your part. Now, while the weather is nice, it’s a good time to check window and door seals, replace old caulking and fix leaks. While you’re at it, make sure you’re not allowing vermin easy entry via broken screens and vents.
7. While You’re Away
- Let a trusted neighbor know where you’re going, when you’ll be back and who, if anyone, is permitted access to your house in your absence.
- Use timers to turn on lights and radios randomly.
- If possible hire a house sitter.
- Continue to have your yardwork done in your absence.
- Put newspaper and mail delivery on hold.
- Leave your car in the driveway.
Need to shop for homeowners insurance or just want to compare rates and options? You can get free homeowners and renters insurance quotes here.