Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 2/16/2018

Home is the the most comfortable place to be. We relax after a long day of work in the living room, eat meals with our family in our kitchen, and sleep soundly in our beds at night. All of this comfort can sometimes cause us to overlook basic safety habits that keep us and our property safe. One of the chief threats to our safety at home is house fires. A great way to keep tabs on our fire preparedness is to have a yearly "fire safety week" with our families to teach and reinforce important information around fires. Read on to see the five-day plan that, for just a few minutes per day, has the potential to save lives.

Day 1: Smoke detectors

The most basic fire safety items that each home has are the smoke detectors. On day one take the kids around the house and show them where each smoke detector is. Have them block their ears and show them how to test the detectors. Change all of the batteries as well. Don't be conservative or frugal with batteries when it comes to smoke detectors; it's worth the extra few bucks to know that you can depend on them.

Day 2: Fire extinguishers

On the second day, bring the kids around the house again showing them the location of fire extinguishers and explaining their function. If there ever is a small house fire you don't want to fumbling around with an extinguisher trying to learn how to use it. Explain that these are not toys and can be dangerous. If your kids are old enough to be home alone, teach them how to use the extinguishers. If the kids are too young tell them to seek you out immediately if they see or smell smoke, or think there might be a fire. Read the pressure gauge on all of your fire extinguishers to make sure they're adequately pressurized. Replace fire extinguishers that are over twelve years old.

Day 3: Escape plan

Every house should have an evacuation plan in case of a fire. Each room should have two escape routes in case one is blocked off by fire or some other barrier. Have your children go through the evacuation routes for each of their rooms. Do this for yourself as well to ensure there are no problems with your plan. Then take the family outside to a meeting spot away from the house. Tell them that this is where each member of the family will meet in case of a fire.

Day 4: Fire hazards

The average house has unlimited potential for fire hazards. Curtains near heaters or ovens, candles too close to flammable objects, and even power outlets can all cause a house fire. Before today's lesson, go through your house and find potential fire hazards and teach your family how to correct these habits during today's lesson. If your kids are old enough to cook, run through various cooking fire hazards as well.

Day 5: Review

Today, review the previous four days' lessons with your family. You can also use today to cover the top eight causes of house fires according to the National Fire Protection Association:
  1. Candles
  2. Smoking
  3. Electrical and lighting
  4. Dryers and washing machines
  5. Lightning
  6. Children playing with fire (matches, lighters, etc.)
  7. Christmas trees
  8. Cooking

Posted by Sharon Lanen Coskren on 10/21/2016

In the hustle and bustle of prepping a home to be sold, many people overlook one very important detail; home safety. And while you'd like to think that prospective buyers visiting your home are upstanding citizens, the simple truth remains that selling your home opens your door wide open to complete strangers...Strangers who are going to be encouraged as potential buyers to explore every detail of your home. Luckily, by taking a few small steps, you can rest a little easier. 1. Hide you valuables - This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to put away common valuables like jewelery, high-value collectables, expensive perfumes, and high-end designer accessories like handbags and money clips. Be sure to go from room to room, keeping an eye out for anything that may hold appeal for a potential thief, and tuck away anything you think might draw a thief's attention. Do a follow-up walk of your house the next day, just in case you may have missed something. 2. Firearms - If you are a homeowner who is also a gun and/or weapon owner, then you are probably already taking the necessary precautions in regard to gun safety. However, for some collectors, prominent display is one of the things that a gun owner may take pride in. Just because your guns are in a locked, secured display case doesn't mean that they still don't hold risk to you or your loves ones. In a private setting, a locked display case is just fine...But in a situation where you are selling your home, complete strangers will have the ability to see that you are a gun owner, how many guns you have, and the precise location of your collection. Considering the value of a gun collection can run into the thousands, they should be treated just like any other valuable in your home; locked away and out of sight. 3. Personal mail - Things like bill invoices, credit card statements, and social security information should be put out of sight. Identity theft is on the rise, and by taking the proper precautions, you can avoid your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. 4. - Prescription medication - Be sure to remove medications from your medicine cabinet that carry the potential for abuse. 5. Parental safety - If you are a parent, you'll obviously want to take precautions to keep your children safe. Remember...You are allowing complete strangers full access to your home. For peace of mind, consider removing family photos, personalized items such as prominently displayed school jerseys and embroidered pillows, and that A+ math test on the refrigerator. Many people feel this step is either unimportant or unnecessary. If you feel fine with displaying these items, then feel completely free to.  The odds of a person wanting to do your family harm are fairly low.  But if you are a "better safe than sorry" kind of person, then consider this step. As long as a few precautions are met, you have no reason to feel uneasy about your home being shown. The vast majority of the people who are going to be looking at your house are responsible members of society, looking for a home to either start or grow their own families. That being said....Better safe than sorry.