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When it comes to safety, homeowners are the first line of defense.

There is a lot that an owner can do to prevent fire and avoid accidents and injury.


  • Keep electrical and phone cords out of traffic paths and avoid putting them under furniture and rugs.
  • Check cords regularly and replace any that are damaged or frayed.
  • Do not attach electrical cords to walls or woodwork with nails or staples.
  • If you must use extension cords, do not overload them.
  • Make sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant. If they are not, use carpet tape or rubber matting.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of the home, including the basement and attic. Make sure they are in working order. For added protection, consider installing one in every bedroom. Test batteries monthly.
  • Make sure there is at least one carbon monoxide detector in the home. Place it close to bedrooms.
  • Check electrical outlets and switches on a regular basis. If they are warm or hot, there may be a problem. If small children are present, use safety plugs to cover outlets.
  • Use light bulbs that are the right size and type for the fixture.
  • Do not overload circuit breakers or fuses.
  • Keep firearms unloaded and locked away. Keep shells in a different locked area.
  • Keep emergency supplies like flashlights, a first aid kit, and emergency phone numbers close by.
  • Have an emergency escape plan in place.
  • Keep stairs as well as porch and deck railings well-maintained.

Living Areas

  • Clean the home’s chimney on a yearly basis, if applicable.
  • Keep halls and doorways clear and well-lit.
  • Make sure stair railings are secure.
  • Install safety gates to block the top and bottom stairways if young children are in the home. Avoid accordion-style gates with large openings.
  • Keep furniture children can climb on, toys, and throw rugs away from glass doors and windows.
  • Check furniture for sharp edges, especially coffee tables and other short items.


  • Dispose of unwanted or out-of-date medications. For disposal instructions, please refer to state-specific Department of Environmental Protection guidelines.
  • If children are present, keep medicine and cleaning supplies out of reach in safety containers. Use safety latches. Never leave a small child alone in the tub.
  • Keep electrical appliances unplugged and put away when not using them.
  • Use non-skid mats or abrasive strips in tubs and showers.
  • Set water heater to no more than 120 degrees.


  • Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure everyone in the family knows how to use it.
  • Keep towels, curtains, combustibles and other things that can catch on fire away from the stove.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep electrical cords and appliances away from wet sink areas.
  • Whenever possible, use the back burners of the stove. Always keep pot handles turned to the back. Inspect pots and pans for loose handles.
  • Keep harmful products in their original package and out of reach of children. Use safety latches for drawers, cabinets and appliances.
  • Do not stand on furniture; use a step stool.


  • Have a lamp or light switch near each bed.
  • Keep candles and ashtrays away from the bed.
  • Do not smoke in bed.

Garage and Storage Areas

  • Keep dangerous substances and flammable liquids in their original or well-labeled safety containers. Keep them out of children’s reach. The latter holds true for tools and power equipment.


  • Install child car seats or booster seats correctly in the back seat of automobiles and use properly.
  • Anchor home playground equipment firmly in the ground; cover exposed bolts, screws or sharp edges with plastic cups or tape; install play equipment at least six feet from fences or walls and on soft or grassy ground.
  • Homeowners should check their neighborhood for water hazards, construction, unfenced pools, irrigation canals, and storm drains before children find them first.

Swimming Pool Safety

There is nothing better than a refreshing dip on a hot day. Keeping a pool as a fun place for friends and family to gather means making safety a priority. Here are some simple tips to remember.

  • Enclose the pool with a secure fence that children can’t climb over or squeeze through. Generally, fences need to be at least four feet high, but it is important to check with local code officials to get requirements for a specific area. Fence gates should be self-latching and self-closing with handles that are out of reach of small children.
  • Use non-slip material on decks and ladders. Steps on pool ladders should be at least three inches wide with handrails.
  • Do not leave children unattended near the pool.
  • Make sure people who use the pool are familiar with how deep it is. Injuries frequently result from diving or jumping into shallow water.
  • Do not drink and dip.
  • Be careful on ladders and the pool deck. They can be slippery.
  • Remove toys from the pool when kids are finished playing with them. This eliminates the temptation to reach in and get them.
  • Stay away from drains, grates and other coverings with openings. Small changes in pressure can create suction that can trap unsuspecting swimmers – especially small ones.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Make sure there is rescue equipment close to the pool.
  • It is important to perform regular pool maintenance. Check for sharp edges and loose bolts. Make sure ladders and drain covers are secure. Check electrical equipment regularly.
  • Consider alarms (underwater or surface) and pool safety covers if children are present.
  • Keep glass and electrical devices away from the pool area.
  • Stay out of the water during thunderstorms

Protecting Your Home Against Floods

There are steps homeowners can take to protect their families and their homes from a flood. First and foremost, it is important to determine if the home is located in a flood-prone area. A St. Johns insurance agent can help with this.

Once armed with that knowledge, a homeowner should ensure they have the right insurance. Homeowners policies do not include flood insurance. This type of insurance is a separate policy, which is available through the Federal Government’s National Flood Insurance Program.

In addition to insurance, there are other steps a homeowner can take to help minimize flood damage to a home – especially if the insured is building a new home or renovating an existing one.

  • Add waterproof veneer to the outside walls of the home. This can help reduce interior damage in areas where floods are generally two feet or less.
  • Keep the home’s electrical systems at least 1 foot above the 100-year flood level.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. Unanchored tanks are easily moved by flood waters and can cause a lot of damage.
  • Elevate air conditioning and heating systems to upper floors or attics. If this is not possible, consider surrounding the systems with a concrete or masonry floodwall.
  • Install sewer line backflow valves, which help prevent sewer lines from backing up into the house in a flood.

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