Home safety isn’t necessarily the first thing you think about when moving from one house into another. Sure, you had a home inspector check the property before the sale, but his inspection was likely not exhaustive—and not every defect will have been found. To help guide you in running your own evaluation, we’ve put together a home safety checklist for easing your mind of safety concerns when settling into your new home:
After taking title of your home, the very first thing you should do is change the door locks, and install secure deadbolts if there aren’t any. You don’t know how many people were given spare keys by the previous owners. New locks will deter any “drop-in” visitors.
Circuit test every outlet to determine that they are indeed grounded and operating correctly; doing so will help prevent an instance of fire or electric shock. There are a variety of outlet testers to choose from. No kitchen forks!
Do all faucets have good water pressure and all drains clear? Check the pipes, wherever visible, for corrosion and leakage. Consider also having the water tested for contaminants—it can be money well spent.
Change the furnace and A/C filters, and make sure that ducts aren’t full of dust bunnies and registers are not blocked. Some very old homes have ducts wrapped in asbestos. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos removal may not be necessary; if it’s in good condition, it is frequently best left untouched.
If the house you’ve purchased was built before 1978, there is a possibility that it may have lead-based paint, which can cause a range of health effects from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and even death. If you suspect that it might be lead paint, test it with an EPA-certified lead test kit and be sure to hire a lead-safe certified contractor to deal with the problem.
Chemicals and Flammables
As you unpack, quickly find a secure home for cleaning agents, solvents, paint and other hazards that children might come in contact with. Flammables are another concern—and it’s not just liquids like gasoline that you need to be worried about. After a move, you’ll have plenty of cardboard boxes sitting around, so keep them away from the stove and other ignition sources. Recycle them as soon as practical.
Test all smoke alarms (there should be at least one on each level of the house), and consider adding a carbon monoxide detector, if there isn’t one.
As a final closing step, get down on the floor and look around. What would your children or pets encounter that escapes your notice when standing? Sharp edged tabled, doors that swing into walkways, tripping hazards—there are plenty of things you might discover.
A little time spent on improving home safety at the beginning will make your home ownership a happier experience by keeping you healthier and (hopefully!) accident free. Best wishes in your new abode!