Spring is in the air, but so are the (often hidden) toxins that have been trapped inside your home all winter! And don’t forget the routine maintenance items that would otherwise be an afterthought. When it comes to these common household threats, there is a lot at stake, including your health and safety. Follow these spring cleaning and housekeeping tips for keeping your family safe year-round!
Clean Chimneys & Gutters
Those who own a chimney typically know that it needs to be cleaned at least once per year according to the National Fire Protection Association Code 211.
Not only can debris build up and cause harm, but there are several ways in which carbon monoxide can get trapped in your chimney, unbeknownst to you. Reducing your risk of this deadly gas affecting you can be as simple as keeping your chimney clean, and spring is the perfect time to do so!
As mentioned, another safety risk is a fire caused by chimney debris buildup. Gutters pose the same risk if left unattended for long periods of time, which can also lead to flood risk. If you stay on top of these home maintenance tasks, you can stay out of harm’s way!
Pro tip: This one is important because it related directly back to your family’s safety but can be dangerous tasks to tackle on your own. We recommend hiring these dirty jobs out if your budget permits.
Test Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This tip (and a few of the others) is more of a housekeeping item than it is house cleaning! When testing your detectors, if the sound isn’t loud enough to be heard from the other end of the house (grab a helper so you can press the button while they listen), then first try replacing the batteries. If the unit is still not working properly, then you’ll know it’s time to replace it right away.
Remember, smoke alarms go inside every room and CO detectors should be placed outside of every room, and one of each on every level of your home. Replace the units about a year before the manufacturer’s recommended expiration (we recommend 8-10 years for smoke detectors and 5-7 years for carbon monoxide detectors).
Pro tip: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends replacing batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors twice per year (at daylight savings time) as dead batteries cause 24% of smoke alarm failures.
Test Your Home Security System & Family Emergency Plans
The words, “You can never be too careful,” fit well here because this may seem a little extensive for some of you! But keep in mind, thoughtful testing and planning can make all the difference in your family’s level of safety should an emergency occur.
First, if you have a home security system, we recommend calling your 24/7 alarm monitoring center to request your home security system be put in test mode. So often, adolescents see security systems as strictly an adult responsibility, so take the time to review its operation with all members of the family.
Next, go over the various scenarios that can wreak havoc on your home and family (fire, burglary, tornado, etc.). Let your children know this is not a scare tactic, but a preparedness exercise should the worst-case scenario occur. And be sure to establish a written guideline that can be reviewed periodically so that your household knows exactly what to do in case of emergency!
Pro tip: Use the Red Cross family disaster plan templates and emergency app to avoid leaving anything to chance!
Replace HVAC & Water Filters
Getting back to airborne toxins, be sure to keep your HVAC filters on a rotation recommended by the brand you buy. It’s easy to forget them – out of sight, out of mind – so spring is a good time to remind yourself. Most of us have had our houses closed up all winter, which means our furnace filters have been working overtime!
And while we don’t often think of our drinking water as toxic, unfortunately, it can be. Water filtration systems are popular because bottled water is expensive and not earth-friendly. However, if you aren’t changing your water filters, you might be better off drinking tap water! So be sure to incorporate your drinking water filters and any other household filters you have as part of your regular spring cleaning!
Pro tip: Use the reminders on your smartphone to alert you at the start of spring and fall (usually coinciding with daylight savings time) to change all of the filters in your house (and your vehicles, too). Keep a list of which brands and sizes are needed so you can pick them up at the store when it’s time.
There is no perfect system but utilizing spring as your family’s time to clean and detox your home can prevent certain threats. Plus, some of these items are great conversations to have with your kids and lend to creating a safe atmosphere for future discussions.
Michael Kloss is the Area Sales Manager of Per Mar Security and a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog posts are often submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association (CVHBA). The CVHBA is a free resource available to all homeowners building or remodeling a home. For more information please call 715-835-2526 or email email@example.com.