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Teaching Your Children How to be Safe at Home

by The Jana Caudill Team

You often hear about new parents “child proofing” a house.  They have safety latches for door knobs, oven doors, toilet lids, kitchen drawers and cabinets.  There are electric outlet covers, safety gates, drapery cords hung high, and knives, matches, chemicals, and medications all locked safely away.  There’s a lot parents can do to make their homes safer for their children. 

The problem is, with the term children, at least in the context of “child proofing,” we often only mean babies and toddlers.  What about when our kids are not only walking, but old enough to be talking and learning too?

Here are some tips that go beyond the measures you take to protect your children and venture into the realm of educating your children to help protect themselves.

  1. Water and electricity don't mix.  You already don’t let your kids put their glass of water or milk on top of the television in the family room.  Now’s the time to explain to them why.  Electricity and liquids do not mix.  Teach them about electric fires.  Tell them the age old story about the person using the hairdryer in the tub.  You can make your point without giving your kids nightmares.  Then do a planned tour of your home, visiting each bathroom, every television/DVD player/game system set up in the house.  Help them identify potential electric fire threats in the home.  Tell them how much you appreciate their participation in keeping your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or Schererville home safe.
  2. Animals.  Tell the kids to never pull on tails or ears, and never to interrupt a house pet who is having his dinner.  Even the best behaved dogs can get a little annoyed with a younger family member who refuses to leave them alone during what would otherwise be a peaceful meal.  Talk to your children about avoiding strange animals, whether it’s the stray dog or cat in the neighborhood or it’s your neighbor’s pet just on the other side of the fence.  Mom and Dad should get to know potential new animal friends on the block and ensure there are proper introductions with little ones.
  3. Knives, matches, meds, chemicals.  Yes, it’s time for those talks too, and YES, KEEP THEM LOCKED UP.  Talk to your children about all potential dangers in the home – just don’t overwhelm them right out of the shoot.  If you unload everything on them all at once you risk creating a sense that the house is a giant booby trap.  Have these conversations as opportunities present themselves.  You will still keep items like medications, matches, and so on locked up until the kids are a little older.

Of course everything depends on communication and how mature your children are.  If you find yourself constantly removing that nighttime glass of water from the top of the cable TV box and your constant reminders go unheeded there should be repercussions.  And that’s okay.  You’re just trying to keep your kids safe.

Fuse Box and Circuit Breaker Box Safety

by The Jana Caudill Team

The fuse box or circuit breaker box is the electrical nerve center of your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or Dyer home.  Everything that you plug into an outlet or screw into a light socket that’s not running on batteries but uses electricity in the home counts on fuse and breaker boxes to do their job, and do it safely.  You do too.  Accordingly, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when accessing the nerve center of your home:

  1. Just say “no” to H2O.  We’ve all been warned at one point or another not to use electric appliances like hair dryers, curling irons, or plug-in radios near the bath tub.  The principle is shockingly basic: water and electricity don’t mix.  Apply that principle to electric boxes.  If your home has recently suffered water leakage or flooding, possibly from extreme weather conditions or a roof leak, and your walls are wet DO NOT access your electrical box.  Again, water and electricity don’t mix, so if walls are wet, and/or you are standing in standing water stay away from the fuse or breaker box.  You are quite literally risking death.
  2. Replace blown fuses only with properly sized replacement fuses.  Incorrectly replacing fuses, or worse, attempting to bypass the fuse or breaker altogether by wiring around it risks starting an electrical fire, and that’s not the kind of fire you put out with water!  Always, ALWAYS use a properly rated and sized replacement fuse.  Your home circuits were designed with this built-in safety feature for a reason.  Which brings us to…
  3. Call an electrician if...  If you have to constantly replace blown fuses or reset tripped circuit breakers something is wrong, especially if you’re repeatedly installing the correct fuse.  You either have an overloaded circuit, meaning a few too many combination TVs, stereos, DVD players, and video game systems plugged into one circuit, or some other malfunctioning short in the circuit.  If unplugging and relocating some of your electrical equipment to lighten the load doesn’t solve this you need to call an electrician right away to inspect your wiring for safety concerns.

When the Lights Go Out

by The Jana Caudill Team

When the power goes out, especially at night, isn’t it nice to be able to walk right over to the bathroom cabinet, kitchen drawer, garage, or wherever you keep your flashlight(s) and voila, let there be light!

Doesn’t always work that way, does it?  Either the batteries are dead, extending the scavenger hunt in your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home for at least another ten minutes while you look for fresh batteries, or the flashlight isn’t there (now, when you need it most) to begin with.  Maybe you have candles tucked away for these infrequent not-quite emergency situations.  Again, are they still where you remember storing them?  Do you remember where you stored them?  Do you even own any candles?

Here are a few forethoughtful tips on ensuring you have ready and recharged access to illumination when the power goes down.

  1. Store candles in plain sight.  Many homeowners use decorative candles as part of their home décor.  Dining room center pieces, fireplace mantle dressing, bath accents, you name it.  Integrate candles in locations where you might otherwise place a vase of fresh flowers.  Keep a multi-purpose lighter handy, but in a secure location away from children, instead of matches which require an ashtray or similar unsightly receptacle for cooling down after use.
  2. Put a flashlight anywhere you have a sink.  Under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, powder room sink, and laundry room sink.  That way you’ll have access to multiple flashlights in easy to remember locations.  The only issue here is if you have children.  Kids love flashlights.  The easy solution is child-proof cabinet latches.
  3. Like with the battery backup in your smoke detectors, replace your emergency flashlight batteries once a year.  I suggest every holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  Make it an annual part of decorating the house for the holidays.

Buy House, Change Locks

by The Jana Caudill Team

You signed the mountain of paperwork, and you and your spouse are so happy to finally be moving into your first Crown Point, Hobart, or Chesterton house together you know if you had to you’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  The sellers are happy too, after all they’ve been trying to sell the house for almost two years and they can finally get on with their lives.  They slide five copies of the house key across the closing table to you and wish you luck.  Your Realtor gives you two gold engraved key fobs that proclaim “There’s no place like home…”  Ahhh, everything’s right in the universe until months later things start to turn up missing.

The facts are not everyone was a fan of Mr. and Mrs. Good Neighbor when they used to live in your home.  And it’s not your fault; how were you to know?  A neighbor kid never returned the key to the front door after the one time he house sat for the sellers and forgot to feed the dogs for three days…The forgotten key ring the sellers’ usually responsible thirteen year old lost at the playground after school…The code to the key pad mounted at the garage door Mr. Good Neighbor shared in a moment of weakness when Mr. Questionable Character next door called their cell phone while they were away on vacation.  He just wanted to borrow the ladder…

When you buy a house change the locks.  All the locks:

            Front Door Key
            Back Door Key
            Garage Access Key
            Remote Key Pad for the Garage Door
            Reset Garage Door Remote Controls for Your Cars
            Mailbox Key
            Utility/Exterior Storage Shed Keys

Remove access, remove temptation, and sleep easier.

Preventing Exterior Home Fires

by The Jana Caudill Team

Colorado and many other western states have been in the news lately because of summer drought conditions and recent devastating wildfires.  This got me thinking about home fire safety, and I’m not talking about kitchen grease fires, interior smoke alarms, or worn floor lamp power cords under the rug.  Today I’m talking about exterior home fires and their prevention.

In drought-condition forest fires it’s often the dry underbrush (wild grasses, and fallen, dead tree limbs, etc.) that provide as much fuel for a wildfire as the trees themselves.  This goes for your yard as well.  Keep dry leaves, dead tree limbs, and rubbish clear.  This yard clutter can turn a small fire into a blaze.

Clean your outdoor grill, and check it to make sure it’s operating safely.  Many indoor home fires start in the kitchen.  Likewise many outdoor home fires start at the grill.  These are particularly dangerous if your grill is positioned like most on the patio, near the house.  Every summer clean out the inside of your grill, removing all accumulation of grease, fallen food debris, and (if you use your grill only infrequently) wasp nests.  You don’t want anything inside the grill that can cause an unexpected flare up.

Building materials.  Stacks of lumber, roofing shingles, etc. sitting on the side of the house or in the garage can provide fuel for home fires.  If you have a home improvement project underway, try to use flame resistant materials.  And to take the lumber issue one further, keep outdoor stacks of firewood for your fire place and other combustible material at least 30 feet away from your Crown Point, St. John, or Cedar Lake home!

Kitchen Fires

by The Jana Caudill Team

The most common place for a fire to start inside your Crown Point, Hobart, or Dyer home is the kitchen; the garage and laundry room come in at second and third.  It makes sense though, right?  The kitchen’s the room that’s home to the range top, the oven, and multiple electric appliances.  But not all in-home fires are the same.  The kitchen is not only the most likely place for an accidental fire, it is also the location most susceptible to the widest variety of fires.  Before I go any further, if you have an in-home fire and your clothes happen to catch fire, you know the drill: STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! And if the flames are high and out of control GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AND GET TO SAFETY FIRST, THEN CALL 911!  Don’t risk your life.  There’s no sense in anyone getting hurt.  Things can be replaced, people can’t.  That said, here are the three most common types of small in-home fires and the best method for putting them out.

  1. Wood, paper, cloth fire: Put out the flames with water or a class A fire extinguisher.
  2. Grease fire: Use baking soda or a class B extinguisher.  If the fire is in a pan, slide a lid over the top first to smother the flames and turn off the heat.  DO NOT USE WATER!  Water will only make a grease fire spread.
  3. Electric fire: Baking soda or a class C extinguisher.  Again, no water.

Home fire extinguishers should have an ABC rating to cover most home fires.

Preventing Falls at Home

by The Jana Caudill Team

Okay, first I’ll state the obvious:  the better you manage risks in your Hobart, Munster or Crown Point home that contribute to falls the less likely someone will suffer a fall resulting in an injury. 

Makes sense, right?  It should.  Any family member can have an accident, it’s true.  But just for the moment let’s take into special consideration our seniors?  Children’s toys scattered about the floor, even pet toys like the dog’s bone can twist an ankle and send Grandma or Grandpa for a tumble.  Rugs and doormats without the no-slip backing can do the same.  In fact, getting rid of rugs altogether in homes with seniors is the best idea.  There are power cords, or standing liquids like water from a leaking pipe that can trip or slip.  No skid strips in the tub are a must.  Adding handrails in the tub and seats in shower stalls are great.  Now we're talking...

Now I’ll ask you to consider something beyond just the fall and the injury.  I’ll sum it up in one word: comfort.  The safer we can make the home for seniors, the longer a senior can stay in the home.  Put another way, There’s no place like home.  Have you ever heard Grandma say, “I can’t wait to move into assisted living!”?  Never!  Seniors want to be at home, where the heart is – where it’s comfortable.  Of course, there might come a time when the only realistic alternative is the retirement home, but there’s always something more we can do to help our seniors live longer and where they’re more comfortable.

Oklahoma Tornado

by The Jana Caudill Team

Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the tornado that caused such great destruction in Oklahoma this past Monday.  We’re writing to ask our Northwest Indiana friends and neighbors to please consider giving to the local relief effort by visiting the Central and Western Oklahoma regional Red Cross page.  Just click on the link above, then click on the “Donate Funds” or “Ways to Help” buttons at the top.  Thank you for lending a helping hand.

4 Top Baby-Proofing Tips

by The Jana Caudill Team
  1. The Baby Gate.  Whether your baby first crawls, rolls or scoots around your Crown Point, Munster, or Dyer home she will undoubtedly learn to fall before she learns to walk.  Be sure to gate off open stairways, both those leading up as well as down.  A child can just as easily make it up a few steps headed toward a second floor bedroom prior to a tumble as teeter on the edge of stairs headed down to the basement.
  2. Electric Outlet Safety Covers.  Not much to say here.  If there’s a way for a curious infant to squeeze a tiny little finger into an outlet that’s on the wall only a foot above the floor…Best not to gamble.
  3. Cabinet and Drawer Locks.  Keep Billy away from chemicals, aerosols, ant traps – whatever you keep under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and in the laundry room cabinets that you just can’t put up high and out of reach.
  4. Curtain, Drape, and Blind Safety Ties.  Babies grow into toddlers faster than you can sing “Happy Birthday,” walking and running before you know it.  Children love to learn about their environment, checking out plants, testing the family cat, finding weeks old Cheerios under the edge of the sofa.  And they love windows.  Tie loose cords up high enough to keep toddlers from getting all tangled up and in trouble.

Thirsty Plants, Pet Sitters, and Nosy Neighbors

by The Jana Caudill Team

Summer’s nearly here, so get out, go camping, snorkeling, skydiving…Okay, maybe not skydiving.  Hop on a plane or drive cross country.  Take that well deserved time off to rest and recharge, and exercise some of these precautions to ensure your home is safe and sound when you return from your vacation:

  1. House/Pet Sitter.  This one costs a little, but if you have pets, plants and newspapers it’s a must.  Plus, a house sitter helps keep the house looking occupied which is the greatest deterrent to home burglary.  Lights are turned on and off during the course of the evening, pets are fed, plants are watered, and newspapers make it to the recycle bin all without you being there.  What about paying your sitter a little extra to dust and vacuum so you return from vacation to your clean Northwest Indiana home?  If you don’t use a house sitter you can still put a hold on your mail and newspaper service while you’re away.
  2. Nosy Neighbor.  If you don’t have pets and plants, or are not planning on spending the extra money on a house sitter, why not take advantage of that nosy neighbor and have them stop by the house every other day just to, well, stick their nose in your business?  Neighbors can walk the perimeter of the property, make sure newspapers are picked up, flyers are removed from your front door, and otherwise remove any sign that would indicate your family is out of town.  Give them the phone number where you will be staying in case of an emergency, and emphasize the phone number is for emergencies only.  You can catch up on the neighborhood gossip when you get home.
  3. Delayed blogging.  Many don’t think about this one.  If you’re real-time updating all your social networking sites with great photos of your family standing in front of the Grand Canyon you are effectively letting the world know you are not at home.  Save this practice until your return.
  4. Do not leave your GPS in your car unattended!  For many of the same reasons for observing delayed blogging, do not leave your GPS in your car where a potential burglar can see it.  What better invitation for a thief than a GPS unit programmed with your home address on the dashboard of a car with an out of state license plate, or parked at long term airport parking?

Here are more tips to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 21

Contact Information

Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949