Trudy Conley's Blog
Be the burglarNot literally. But pretend to be. Go through the exterior of your house and think like a burglar. Check your windows. Especially the low-hanging ones. Are all of your locks secured? Do you make it a point to lock them nightly? Test your locks. Not all locks are created equal. Doorknob locks are often easily picked or forced open. Deadbolts are harder. However, none of these things matter if the integrity of your door is compromised. French doors, for example, are particularly easy to force open. If you're worried about your locks, consult a locksmith that can help you choose better options. Look inside your home from the sidewalk. Are there valuables within view from the street? Do you have a tendency to leave your garage door open, exposing expensive items like lawnmowers, grills, or even motorcycles? Burglars don't just target homes. Don't end your search with the house. Many items are stolen from sheds, backyards, and even off of porches, which happened to me as a child when a bicycle was taken from our porch in the night.
Tighten up securityThe number of small steps we can take to improve security and mitigate risk of burglary is boundless. Here are some security tips that should be on every checklist for home safety:
- Use a security mailbox and don't leave mail with personal information exposed in front of your home
- Install a fireproof safe in your home. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Keep your important documents in the safe, and better yet, keep them backed up in a secure file on the cloud like Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Use motion light detectors. When calibrated correctly they won't go off for every car or cat that happens by and they're a great theft deterrent.
- Tell your neighbors if you're going out of town, and have someone take in your mail/newspapers for you. Keep a kitchen light on and a car parked in the driveway if possible.
- Don't leave spare keys under the rug or anywhere obvious. Also, keep tabs on all of the keys to your home. Know who has a copy and check up on the spare keys on occasion.
“The silent killer.” It’s a perplexing name for a common household hazard. We’ve all heard of the dangers of carbon monoxide, but few of us are taught exactly what causes CO poisoning.
Understanding the causes of CO poisoning are essential in reducing the risk that you or your family could be harmed by this poisonous gas. So, in this article we’ll break down what exactly it is that carbon monoxide does to the body, where it can occur in the home, and how to protect yourself against it.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas. Because it is so dangerous to humans, fuels that emit carbon monoxide are usually mixed with other gases that do have an odor. This way, humans can typically smell gas and therefore be alerted that they are in danger.
What does CO do to the body?
When inhaled, carbon monoxide inhibits your body’s ability to use oxygen. So, even though you are breathing in air, your body is still suffocating. As a result, the lack of oxygen caused by carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to death the same way that drowning does.
High levels of CO in the air can cause you to succumb within minutes. Your chest will tighten, you’ll feel dizzy or drowsy and could suffocate if you don’t get away from the area.
However, lower levels of CO exposure can also be dangerous. People often notice headaches, slight dizziness and muscle fatigue and mistake the symptoms for the flu.
People who are asleep can die from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever experiencing symptoms.
Where is CO found within the home?
Since carbon monoxide occurs from unburned fuels leaking in the air, there are a number of sources within and outside the home that emit carbon monoxide.
According to the American Lung Association, some common sources of carbon monoxide include:
Gas appliances (furnaces, ranges, ovens, water heaters, clothes dryers, etc.)
Fireplaces, wood stoves
Coal or oil furnaces
Space heaters or oil or kerosene heaters
Charcoal grills, camp stoves
Gas-powered lawn mowers and power tools
Automobile exhaust fumes
How to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning
Luckily there are several ways to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Knowing what causes it is the first and most important way. Preventing gas leaks in appliances and maintaining proper upkeep of those appliances is one important way.
Another tip to keep in mind is to make sure your home is well ventilated. If cooking for a long period of time, don’t leave gas ranges unattended. If the knobs on your range are easily turned, make sure children and pets aren’t left alone near the oven.
Never use items like kerosene lanterns, portable camping stoves, burning charcoal, or running engines inside your home or garage. Lack of ventilation can easily cause CO levels to rise to a dangerous level within minutes.
Common mistakes involving carbon monoxide include running lawnmowers or other gas-powered items inside a garage, or leaving a car running in a garage.
Finally, install a carbon monoxide detector in your house and garage. Change the batteries regularly and test the alarm often. If you smell gas in your home and can’t identify the source immediately, open the windows and leave the house.
- Ask for a Friend: If you are going to be gone for longer than a few days, it’s probably wise to ask a friend, neighbor or family member to stop by and check on your house. They can grab the mail and newspaper, water plants, and make sure the house is still standing. Consider paying someone to stay at your home full-time to take care of your pets. Generally, it will be cheaper than boarding them and you won’t be displacing them while you’re away.
- Do NOT post on social media: Social media is a staple for many to share their life, but it’s best not to post on social media that you will be heading off to the Caribbean for a week— unless you have someone staying at your house full-time. This gives burglars the perfect opportunity to break into your home.
- Remove spare keys: It’s best to give the person watching your home the spare key and have them hold onto it and remove additional spares key. There are rarely any creative spots to hide spare keys and leaving it under your welcome mat is asking for someone unwanted to enter your home.
- Timer lights: Invest in a timer for your lights. If your lights turn on periodically, it will look like someone is at home. It will also save you money compared to if you were to leave your lights on constantly while away.
- Unplug appliances/electronics: Unplug anything that will not be used while you are on vacation. This includes toasters, computers, printers, television, etc. Even though they are not on they could still be using up energy.
- Close windows/lock doors: Remembering to close your windows and lock your doors sounds like it would be easy, but it’s probably not the first thing on your mind when going on vacation. Set a reminder on your phone to check all of your windows, making sure they are locked if low to the ground, and locking the doors that you are not exiting from.
- Use a safe: If you have a safe or locked drawer, it’s very wise to place important things into it while you’re gone. Important paperwork, jewelry, and emergency money that you leave around the house are all items that you should be putting a safe place, such as a safe or locked drawer.