Buying & Selling Homes

Checklist: A Safe and Insurable House

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Following some simple guidelines can safeguard your property, keep your family protected, and lower your insurance premiums. Here is a useful checklist to help you examine your home room by room.

• Keep candles away from bedding and curtains.
• Limit or eliminate extension cords and never run them under carpets.
• Keep cords against the wall to protect against trips and falls.
• Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change their batteries once every six months and replace after five years.
• Install window locks to keep out intruders and window guards keep children from falling.
• Keep a flashlight next to the bed in case of an emergency or power outage.
• Keep bedroom and bathroom pathways uncluttered to avoid falls in the dark.

Living Spaces
• Limit or eliminate extension cords and never run them under rugs.
• Maintain a fireproof screen in front of your fireplace.
• Keep paper, fabrics, furniture, and other flammable items away from the fireplace or stove.
• Install surge protectors to protect electronics.
• Use non-skid backing or adhesives under rugs to prevent slipping.

Stairs and Hallways
• Keep walkways free of obstacles to prevent trips or spills.
• Install sturdy handrails.
• Install adequate lighting and avoid overhead shadows on stairs.
• Make sure stairs meet code requirements for how steep and deep they are.

• Check the dishwasher hoses for loose connections, clogs, or leaks, and replace if needed.
• Keep the dishwasher drain clear and free of clogs.
• Check the water line feeding the icemaker in your refrigerator to be sure it is free of leaks or kinks.
• Clean the range exhaust filter with soap and water to prevent grease and dirt from caking and to keep air flowing freely.
• Test ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets regularly.
• Unplug electric appliances when not in use.
• Check hoses and pipes under the kitchen sink for leakage. Repair leaky faucets.
• Seal around countertops and sinks to prevent water from seeping behind cabinets and walls, creating mold.
• Have an up-to-date, working fire extinguisher that is right for all types of kitchen fires. Keep it in a visible place.

• Keep the attic well-insulated and vented to prevent ice dams and/or moisture buildup.
• Install adequate lighting.
• Put in a proper floor to prevent accidents.
• Keep pipes well-insulated to prevent freezing.

• Clean up oil and liquid spills on the floor.
• Avoid fires by putting rags soaked in oil, gasoline, or solvents in a jar of soapy water or a metal can designed to let air flow around rags. Ask your local landfill how to safely discard them.
• Keep cleaning supplies, garden chemicals, paints, and thinners out of reach of children and away from heat sources or sparks.
• Check and maintain safety mechanisms on automatic garage doors to prevent accidental closing.
• Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible.
• Stow tools and sports equipment to prevent falls.

Insurance and General Protection
• Maintain a written, video, or photographic inventory of all your possessions. Keep it in a fireproof safe or outside of your home.
• Consider purchasing added insurance for jewelry, furs, and expensive artwork.
• Review your insurance policy and insurable items annually.
• Keep insurance premiums current.
• Have a first aid kit and emergency telephone numbers handy.
• Establish at least one escape route from your home and practice it with your family.
• Schedule a regular walk-through for your home - say, on the first of every month - and do a quick check to ensure that your home is still as safe as possible.

And check out our Checklist: A Safe and Insurable Yard for more.