August 1996 Edition

Is Your Home Safe?

We just purchase our first home and would like to know what home safety items we should consider installing or testing on a regular basis?  
You are showing wisdom with your new home by making it as safe a possible. Some people do not think about what could happen in their home and some accidents can be fatal.  
The first item I would purchase is a fire extinguisher. I recently had a fire and know the importance of having one available.


I had a small extinguisher convenient so I grabbed it first. It lasted about 30 seconds which was not long enough to put out the fire. I had to run for a larger one that was hanging in the garage. When you first have an emergency, you better know exactly   where your fire extinguisher is  located   because   you   only  have  seconds  to respond. Next, be sure your fire extinguisher is large enough for the job needed. A small extinguisher may be sufficient for a small grease fire on the stove or maybe for your automobile but be sure you have a larger one in case the fire gets out of hand. Some of the larger ones are heavy so be sure to purchase the largest one that can be handled easily by your family.
They come with the following designations: Type “A” is designed for combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper and many plastics. Type “B” is designed for flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, grease, paint and flammable gas. Type “C” covers electrical fires including wiring, circuit breakers, machinery and appliances. There are also multipurpose or “combination portable fire extinguishers on the market - Type BC and Type ABC. Be sure to purchase the one that best fits your needs. It is particularily dangerous to use water or just a Type “A” extinguisher  on a grease or electrical fire. 
Smoke detectors should be located on each level of your home with one located right outside the bedrooms. They can be either “hard wired” which is wired into the electrical system with a battery backup or if an electrical connection is not available, just use the battery type.


The most convenient location is mounted on the wall as high as possible but still can be reached to test the batteries on a regular basis. Sometimes when they are located on the ceiling, people forget to test them. Never unplug a battery when it begins to “chirp”. This is a warning to replace the battery. 
One safety item most people do not think about is an optional exit from the second floor in case a fire blocks the bottom of the stairs. Some homes come with two sets of stairs but most homes do not. Look at your home to see if you can exit out a high deck or any other means to safety. If not, it would be a good idea to purchase a rope ladder that can be attached to a window sill in case of an emergency. Leave it in a closet close to the window and it will always be there in case you ever need it. 
GFCI’s or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are inexpensive electrical outlets that prevent you from receiving a severe or fatal electrical shock. All new homes automatically come  with  GFCI’s,  but they are not required in older homes.


We suggest installing GFCI’s in all bathrooms, around the kitchen sink, in the garage, in all the exterior outlets and any place where you may come in contact with dampness or water.
 Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by burning any fuel. Therefore all fuel-burning appliances in your home are a potential CO source. Older furnaces are more likely to  produce  heavy concentrations of carbon monoxide and should be inspected and serviced annually.


The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one CO detector per household located outside the sleeping area. They can be purchased at most home centers.
 If your home was not inspected by a home inspector, it is also a good time to inspect your deck. First look at all the wood surfaces for wood decay. Probe the wood with a long screw driver. Any soft wood should be replaced. Be sure the deck railing is secure and any openings in the rail pickets are close enough together to prevent a small child from falling through.


Next, check to be sure it is properly anchored to your house. The deck should be thru bolted and not just nailed tothe house structure. If it is not bolted, install 1/2” diameter thru bolts no more than 4 feet apart. Next, check to see if all of the floor joists are supported by 2x2 wood strips called ledgers or by metal joist hangers. This prevents the floor joist from moving. Joist hangers can be purchased from any home center and are easy to install. Just nail them onto the ends of the joist and into the header beams at both ends. Next, check the deck support post for wood decay.


Probe the bottom of the post at and below ground level with a long screw driver. If damage is present it would probably be a good idea to have a professional repair it. The drawing is an example on how to reuse your existing wood post by cutting off the decayed bottom and pouring a concrete pier footing up above ground level.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

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Quote of the Month



A Tip Of The Hat To:

Shelia Paterick

Metro Brokers Real Estate

Morrow, Georgia

**** Thank You****