Summer dangers around the home

While the summer months may seem placid and tranquil, household dangers abound. Here are five threats to look out for and how to prevent them from harming you and your home.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning rarely strikes people, but buildings are  a different story – it happens pretty frequently. A direct hit to the home can cause serious damage, including fire and a blown out electrical system. Even a nearby lightning strike can kill off an entire home’s worth of delicate electronic gear. A surge protector is the first line of defense against lightning strikes. While you might already have some surge protectors around the home, wall-socket surge protectors and the ones built into power bars are not really designed to withstand the full force of a lightning strike. It can also be expensive to buy a separate surge protector for every socket in the house. To give your home a more thorough layer of lightning protection, you’re better off getting a whole-house surge protector, which is installed at the circuit breaker. These devices are designed to cut off power surges before they enter the home. For added protection in particularly storm-prone areas, you can also install a lightning protection system, which features a lightning rod or rods installed on the roof of the home and a grounded cable that channels energy away from the house.

Unsecured Air Conditioners

To cut down on winter drafts, many people will remove window-unit air conditioners in the fall and reinstall them when they’re needed again in the summer. But these air conditioners can become a serious hazard to anyone walking below if they aren’t installed properly. Most of these units come with side panels that need to be screwed in securely to the sides of the window. To prevent the screws from coming loose, make sure that the wood in your window frame is free of rot and that the holes are not stripped. The bottom of the window provides further support for the air conditioner. To prevent someone from opening the window accidentally — or breaking into your home by forcing the window open — place a wood block between the upper part of the window frame and the top of the open window.

Open Water

Drowning is a leading cause of death for small children and many of these deaths happen when kids get too close to a backyard swimming pool. If you have a pool in your backyard, make sure you have a security fence installed around it and that someone is around at all times when kids are swimming. If you let your children swim at a friend’s place, make sure an adult will be around to keep an eye on them.

Exploding Barbecues

Don’t let your backyard barbecue becomes a fireworks show this summer. Every year, gas grills cause more than 7,000 fires, most of which are caused by fuel leaks. Make sure to get your tanks and fuel line inspected on a regular basis. When not in use, propane tanks should be stored upright and away from a potential heat source. Leaks aren’t the only cause of danger around a gas grill. A strong wind or malfunctioning grill can extinguish the flame, allowing propane to build up. When you try to restart it, you could be faced — literally — with a giant fireball. Because propane is heavier than air, it doesn’t dissipate quickly. So if your grill has gone out, close the valve, open the lid and wait five to ten minutes for the gas to clear.

Too Much Moisture

Humid summer weather can cause all sorts of problems, including mold growth, cupping hardwood floors and cracking walls. To prevent these problems, it’s important to control the humidity in your home. In high humidity areas, a dehumidifier is essential to protect your home. However, your air conditioner can also keep the humidity in check. As hot summer air hits the air conditioner’s cool coils, moisture in the air condenses, causing it to bead and drain away. Whether you use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to keep things under control, you should always keep the humidity level below 55 percent in the home.