House and Home

10 Ways to Make Your Home Safer


Do you remember the last time you changed the batteries in your fire detectors, or replenished the bandages in your first aid kit? These safety precautions should never be left on the back burner, so we assembled a checklist of 10 things you can do to ensure a safe home for your family.

Install carbon monoxide detectorsIf you do not already have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home, do so immediately. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless, and it's undetectable without a carbon monoxide detector. Make sure you install these devices near your sleeping area, so they can wake you easily in an emergency. You should also have at least one detector per floor of your home. Do not put them near fuel-burning appliances, or in rooms that get particularly humid, such as the bathroom.

Get rid of toxinsYou might be wiping away dirt and grime, but your cleaning product could be introducing a slew of chemicals into the air. Many brand-name household cleaners contain toxins that can harm you over time, like ammonia, which is linked to kidney damage; carcinogens, which can cause cancer; and bleach, which can burn your skin or eyes if you come into contact with it. All-natural, eco-friendly cleaners are best, especially if you have children or pets in the house.

Make sure your fire detectors workThis is a no-brainer. Make sure your fire detectors are working, and that you have one on each floor of your home. To ensure you're protecting yourself from fire dangers, pick one day each year to change the batteries before they run out on their own.

Buy fire extinguishersOften overlooked in households, fire extinguishers can help to control a fire before it spreads. Buy at least two and use one for teaching and testing purposes. Then, place those you haven't used around your home in easy-to-access areas. Be aware that fire extinguishers only work on fires that are in their early stages. If there is a lot of smoke or a fire is spreading quickly, get out of your house and call 911.

Install a water filterWhile tap water in many towns is perfectly fine to drink, adding a filter to your tap can never hurt. A point-of-use water filter (one that attaches to your faucet) eliminates lead, chlorine and other bacterial contaminants that can be harmful to your body. Plus, it’s a much cheaper alternative to bottled water.

Make sure your locks are high-quality deadboltsConsider installing deadbolt locks on your doors. Many are designed so that you can control who can make copies of the keys. Make sure to install a lock with a bar that is as long as your door will allow; the longer the bar on the deadbolt, the safer your home will be from intruders.

Install an air filtration systemIf your family has allergies, investing in an air purifier can make a huge difference, as it can help to eradicate dust, pollen and other contaminants in your home. Look for a HEPA air purifier, the only type that has been certified by the EPA. Combined with an ionizer, the HEPA purifier will remove 99.97 percent of the contaminants in the air, nearly 20 percent more than other competing filters.

Get rid of TeflonWhile non-stick pans may be easier to clean, many studies say they aren’t clean for your home. When heated to a certain temperature, the chemicals in Teflon coating break down and emit toxins into the air. These toxins are linked to thousands of pet bird deaths, as well as an unknown number of human illnesses. While there are conflicting reports about the severity of the dangers of Teflon, we say it’s better to be safe than sorry — especially if you have a parakeet.

Buy flashlightsMake sure you have flashlights (with charged batteries) accessible on every floor of your home. You never know when your power will go out!

Assemble a comprehensive first aid kitPut together a first aid kit with all the basics:

  • Bandages, gauze, cloth items
  • Antibiotic ointments
  • Antiseptic pads
  • Hydrocortisone ointment
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Aspirin
  • Antacids
  • Instant cold compress
  • Breathing barrier (with one-way valve)