Thursday
Sep092010

Fire Safety

Fire Safety In Your Home

About 50 people die each year because of preventable fires in the home. Every fire has a cause and most often, there's a common-sense simple method of prevention. Careless attention to fireplaces, heaters smoking and cooking equipment are leading causes of fire-death and injury. Remember, the age groups most at risk are the under 12's and over 60's.


Let's Start with Three Golden Rules:

1. Plan and practice an escape drill with your family.
2. Install smoke alarms to give you an early warning.
3. Survey your home to make sure it is fire safe.


Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms - Install and Test
Most fires happen at night while people are asleep.  When there's a fire, smoke will actually put sleeping people into a deeper sleep, it will not wake them.  By installing smoke alarms you will have early warning devices which give you time to act before you and your family are overcome by dangerous smoke and fumes. 
  • The average smoke alarm costs around €7, a small price to pay for peace of mind.
  • A long duration smoke alarm with a 10 year (lithium) battery is particularly recommended, as it avoids the need for regular battery replacement. 
  • When buying a smoke alarm ensure that it conforms to one of the following standards: Irish Standard IS 409 of 1998 OR British Standard BS 5446 (Part 1 and have the British Kite mark).
  • Two smoke alarms, properly located on the ceiling with one on each level, should suit the average home. Larger homes will require more. 
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the positioning of smoke alarms.
  • They should be tested, once a week, to ensure they are in good working order.
  • If the alarm fails to sound check the battery.
  • Keep them clean and they should last five to eight years.
  • If your smoke alarm starts making a ‘chirping' noise, replace the batteries and reset it.
  • Finally, if your smoke alarm sounds never assume it's a false alarm! - always act immediately. Better to be safe than sorry.

Living and Family Rooms

  • If you allow smoking in the house, provide large,stable ashtrays.  A burning cigarette end can smoulder for hours before igniting and spreading.
  • Are matches and lighters out of children's reach?
  • Make sure you have an effective spark guard at open fires especially before you go to bed and when children are about. Clean chimneys at least twice a year.  Remember don't leave newspapers, clothes or combustible materials too close to a fire or heater.
  • Check all electrical leads and plugs for deterioration, burning or fraying.  Make sure there are no over loaded sockets. Switch off and unplug all appliances when not in use.
  • Portable heaters should be treated with care. All gas and electric models require special attention and handling. Do you know of any special instructions for their use?  Keep all flammable materials at a safe distance. 
Thursday
Sep092010

Burglary Prevention

Tips to safeguard your home against intruders

 
  • Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened. An open window or door is an open invitation for burglars. Thieves are also quick to spot weak locks that may be easily forced open. Doors should have deadbolt locks with a one inch throw and reinforced strike plate with three inch screws. All windows should have window locks.
  • Secure sliding glass doors. Place a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track and install vertical bolts. These will help prevent burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.
  • Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don't rely on your automatic garage door opener for security.
  • When  Commissioning   some  one to work  in  your  home always  use  a  reliable  traceable   source  of contractors.
  • Always  ask  for  id   when  some  one  knocks  on your door  and  needs access  eg.  gas man , tradesman etc   if   they  are  who  they  say  they are the  will  willingly  provide some  if  in doubt  check  with  there  office.
  • Create the illusion that you are home. by using timers on lights, radios and TV's. Making your residence appear occupied, even when no one is home,   will   deter   criminals.
  • Keep the perimeter of your home well lighted. Installing low voltage outdoor lighting is a cost-effective way to discourage intruders, as well as highlight a house.
  • Never leave clues that you are away on a trip. Have a trusted neighbor collect mail and newspapers while you are away so delivered items do not accumulate. You can also ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are present.
  • Keep some shades and blinds up and curtains open to maintain a normal, everyday appearance in your residence.
  • Never leave a message on your telephone answering machine telling people that you are away from home. A message that you will return at a certain time leaves your home vulnerable in the interim.
  • Keep shrubbery trimmed away from entrances and walkways. While large, ornate hedges may be beautiful, they also provide a hiding place for burglars who need only a minute to break in through a window or door.
  • Organize a community watch program to protect your neighborhood. An alert community is a safe community.
  • Make your moveable property unattractive to thieves by putting an identifying mark (such as your date of birth and initials) on it. This will make it harder for the criminal to dispose of, and easier for the Gardai to connect it with its proper owners, if it is stolen and recovered. Contact your local garda station if you want to know more about property marking.

 

Installing Intruder Alarms

Intruder alarms are strong deterrent to burglars. Over 90% of homes that are burgled do not have alarms. Where homes with alarms have been burgled, over 70% of the alarms had not been switched on. So, if you do have an alarm, REMEMBER TO USE IT. You may be entitled to a discount on your household insurance if you install an alarm.
 
  • Always seek advice from your local Garda Crime Prevention Officer.
  • Consult your insurance company.
  • Get a number of quotations and make sure that each alarm company carries out a security survey on your home.
  • Insist that an external warning device be installed – even if your alarm is monitored, an external bell/siren with a flashing will alert neighbours and provide an invaluable guide to Gardai.
  • Alarm contacts on window openings will indicate an unclosed window when you are setting your alarm.
  • Only deal with reputable companies. The alarm installer you choose should be registered under the national certification scheme for Intruder Alarms which is operated by the National Standards Authority of Ireland and is fully backed by the gardai and the insurance industry.
  • Make sure you get a certificate showing that the alarm installation conforms to the IS 199 standard.
  • Be very careful with companies who call to your door without prior arrangement.
  • FINALLY, REMEMBER THAT A POOR ALARM SYSTEM IS WORSE THAN NO ALARM SYSTEM.

 

Thursday
Sep092010

Stair Safety

Stairs are among the most dangerous spots in your home.

Here are tips for navigating them safely.
  • Handrails that don't run the full length of a staircase can be dangerous -- someone may assume that the stairs end where the handrail ends and miss the last step. If necessary, consider extending or replacing the handrail.
  • If stair carpeting becomes loose, fix it immediately. It's very easy to slip on loose carpeting.
  • Be sure not to use throw rugs at the top or bottom of a flight of stairs.
  • If you intend to paint basement stairs, either add a little sand to the paint for a better grip or install rubber or abrasive treads.
  • If the outside of your house is not well lit, paint the edges of outside steps white so that they are easier to see in the dark or install outdoor lighting.