In honor of "National Preparedness Month" I thought it would be nice to share with you some tips on how to avoid the many hazards that lurk in many of our homes. While housefires are the most common disaster to hit the Central Valley taking the time to follow these steps may result in saving a life, not to mention a few bucks off of your utility bills.
1. Clogged dryer exhaust ducts. Dryer lint will catch fire very easily, which is why regular vacuuming of the dryer's exhaust system is a must. What many people aren't aware of is that dryer lint can also accumulate and possibly ignite in the exhaust ducting under the floors or behind the walls. To remove lint buildup in these ducts, a DIY dryer duct cleaning kit can help clean those hard-to-reach areas.
2. Dirty chimneys. It wasn't until our chimney flue exploded in flames that we learned how important it was to have chimneys cleaned out at least once a year. Burning wood in the fireplace releases a black, tarry substance called "creosote" which sticks to the chimney walls. If the creosote is allowed to build up, a floating ember is all it takes to set off a fire.
3. Water heaters. Water heaters are usually set to high temperatures so that a family can enjoy plenty of hot water. Those higher temperatures can also cause accidental burns, especially in young children. Lowering the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees will prevent scalding burns and lower energy costs as well.
4. Bad DIY wiring. When we had the wiring updated in our home several years ago, the electrician discovered that an early owner had wired the house himself, using braided cloth extension cords. Before buying an older home, a home inspection by a certified inspector will catch a so-not-to-code wiring job and other unsafe DIY improvements.
5. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and flammable gas that is poisonous to humans and their pets. CO gas can build up from a faulty gas furnace or oven, a camp stove or even a chimney. Fixing the escape of CO gas into your home is a job for the professionals, but an easy (and cheap) DIY task for a home owner is to install CO alarms throughout the home.