9 Safety Tips for Your New Home

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor

As you’re getting settled into your new home, don’t neglect the importance of taking the extra steps to make sure your home is safe for your family.  This subject is often neglected, causing accidents to happen that are totally preventable.

Being in a new and unfamiliar home increases the odds of you having an accident, so take the time to make your home safe!

Check your VA home buying eligibility. Start here (Jun 23rd, 2024)

9 safety tips for your new home

1. Install child locks

You should keep poisonous substances out of reach by installing child locks on your cabinets containing hazardous material.  It’s also a good idea to keep the poison control contact number posted inside the cabinet door, and save it in your cell phone contacts, 1-800-222-1222.

2. Set a safe water heater temperature

Do you know what temperature your water heater is set at?  A safe temperature is 120 degrees F.  If you need help learning how to adjust the temperature setting, there are lots of instructional videos available on YouTube.  While you are at it, make sure you know how to do basic functions with your water heater and furnace, such as lighting the pilot light and replacing the filter.

3. Light the stairs

Does your home come with stairs?  Make sure you have plenty of light at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent slips and falls. Use bright lights and make sure hallways and dark areas in the home are well-lit at night with nightlights.  There are many low-voltage plug-in lights that are useful for this.

4. Install carbon monoxide & smoke detectors

In the state of Washington, your new dwelling is supposed to include a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm.  Make sure these are available for every floor in the home and are preferably near the bedrooms.  Ideally, you should use devices that are either hard wired or plugged in, with a battery backup in case of a power outage.

5. Create a fire escape plan

Take the time to develop a fire escape plan that identifies two exits out of every room and where to meet outside.  This may also involve installing a roll-up escape ladder for bedroom windows, and practicing fire drills with your family.  You should also have fire extinguishers set up in the home, and know how to use them.  Ask for guidance from your local fire department.

A full 40% of fires start in the kitchen, with the cooktop being the common culprit.  Never leave burners unattended when in use, and store flammable materials such as paper towels and pot holders in a safe place.  Make sure you are familiar with how to correctly use your stove.  For barbecue stoves, keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house with no overhead obstructions. Check your gas lines for leaks during each use, and replace them when worn.

6. Install no-slip grips

It’s a good idea to install grab bars in shower stalls and add non-slip materials inside your tubs and showers.  Add this safety measure to stairs, decks, and slippery surfaces.  It’s only going to take one stubbed toe or sore tailbone to make you wish you installed these safety features.

7. Check & replace old wiring

Do you have aluminum wiring or an old circuit panel?  It may be time to get an upgrade.  Bad wires can short out and start a fire, and aluminum wiring is dangerous to continue to use.  Signs of trouble are frequent tripped breakers, lighting that flickers, and a tingling sensation when you touch a wall switch or appliance. Replace old circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters, which cut the electricity when they sense danger. Consider replacing wiring that’s more than 40 years old.

8. Clean up dryer lint buildup

When was the last time you cleaned out the lint buildup in your dryer?  This is another great topic to find a how-to video for on YouTube.  Brush or vacuum out buildup around the lint filter every few months. Hire a pro to clean out the cabinet every two years.  And don’t forget to clean out your vent.

9. Clean fireplaces & woodstoves

Do you have a chimney?  Creosote buildup causes most chimney fires, and errant sparks can fly out of the hearth and ignite rugs or furniture. Get your chimney swept once a year. Keep the screen closed when the fireplace is in use.  Check the spark arrester that should be mounted on top of your chimney, is it intact and allowing your chimney to breathe?

The bottom line: Make your new home safe

Your new home experience should be a pleasant one, so make sure that experience includes making your home safe for you and your family.

Check your VA home buying eligibility. Start here (Jun 23rd, 2024)