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April 26, 2010

Moving In: Safety Check List

These recommendations are not intended to be all inclusive, but to provide ideas and examples as a starting point for minimal safety. We recommend you get specific safety recommendations for each item or system in your home from the actual manufacturer as recommendations vary by manufacturer.
Before attempting any inspection, repair or maintenance yourself, be sure you know and understand how and what needs to be done and what safety precautions should be taken. If you are not familiar with or are not confident in any of these items we recommend you consult a qualified licensed contractor/professional for that item or system to carry out that task.

Since water heaters are capable of producing scalding temperatures, we suggest you measure your water temperature upon taking occupancy and adjust it to a safe temperature. For further protection, anti-scald faucets are available for sinks, tubs and showers.

Keep all combustibles away from gas appliances and store no paints or other chemicals in the same room.
Secure any freestanding oven so it cannot tilt forward when weight is applied to the door. (Most ovens come with directions on how to do this.) Individuals have been injured when too much weight is placed on these doors.

Raised decks, porches, balconies, interior and exterior stairs can be areas for high risk of an accidental fall and injury. Graspable handrails mounted between 34 and 38 inches high are recommended for the full length of all stairs. Occupants may not be able to regain their balance with rails that are too big to grip or that are too close to the wall. Guardrails that are at least 36 inches high are advised for any open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, decks, balconies and porches. Current child safety standards call for all openings in rail systems (such as at vertical balusters) to be small enough that a four-inch sphere cannot pass through. Check for slip and fall hazards such as loose or damaged floor coverings.
Be sure you have functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in place at all the appropriate locations. Replace batteries and test detectors as recommended by manufacturer. Usually monthly.

Be sure GFCI and AFCI outlets are installed and functioning in appropriate locations. Test regularly according to manufacturers recommendation. Usually monthly.
Exposed incandescent lights in closet areas may be a fire/safety hazard, as globes break and bare light bulbs are a heat source which could ignite stored flammable materials. Consider replacing all incandescent lights in closet areas with cool burning, fluorescent type lights.

Recessed light fixtures (sometimes referred to as “high hats”) that are installed in insulated ceilings can represent a fire hazard if they are not suitably rated. Determining the rating is beyond the scope of our inspection. If recessed light fixtures are present, a qualified, licensed electrician should be consulted to verify the safety of the system.

Check all breakers for accurate labeling and adding labels to any unlabeled breakers in order to provide quick identification when needed.

Never install a fuse or breaker that is rated for more amps than the wire it is protecting is rated for, if you are unsure of the wire’s rating call a qualified, licensed electrician.

If fuses blow, circuit breakers trip frequently, or any appliance sparks or shorts out, contact a licensed electrician immediately for repairs.

Any cabinet which contains chemicals which may be harmful should have safety latches on the cabinet doors to help keep small children out. Saftey covers plugged into unused electrical outlets will help keep small children from sticking objects into them.

Bedroom windows should be kept in good repair in the event they are needed for an emergency exit. We suggest making sure that they always operate freely (without use of force or a key or tool) and place furniture so as to keep windows accessible for emergency use. Older homes may have windows that do not meet current size and height safety standards for emergency exit. You may want to upgrade to egress windows. Providing an escape ladder is a recommended safety enhancement for all upper level bedrooms. All rooms used for sleeping should have functional exits to both the interior and exterior of the home.

Be familiar with the location of all gas-shutoff valves.

If your garage door opener does not have an electronic sensor to reverse the door when the beam is broken we recommend upgrades be made for safety. Check to be sure the sensors are at the recommended height.

Be sure your children are aware of safety needs/precautions and fire escape routes and methods as well as how to properly use fire extinguishers.

Have at least one portable Class A-B fire extinguisher located in the kitchen area, one in the garage area, and one near any gas appliance for use in an emergency.

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