Sharon Lanen Coskren - Leading Edge Real Estate



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 5/26/2017

There are certain home disasters most of us would prefer not to think about. A house fire, a flood, or even a break-in are all some of a homeowner's worst fears. But being prepared for the worst is always the best choice in the long run. One of the most important things people lose in home disasters are their vital documents. If your documents are lost in a fire it will take a lot of time and money to replace them all. There are two main ways to insure the security of your documents: physically and electronically. However, neither method is 100% secured. Just as some safes can be broken, so can some electronic storage systems. In this article, we'll cover the documents you should secure and the latest and best ways to secure them.

What to secure

There are few things that are irreplaceable. Since most agencies you'll deal with in your life have your information backed up on their computer systems you probably can rest assured that your information is safe there. But for your own convenience and wallet, it's a good idea to secure the following documents and files:
  • Social security cards
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance papers
  • Copies of wills
  • Legal papers
  • Vehicle titles
  • Hard drive with family photos, home movies
  • Medical information (doctors, prescriptions, etc.)

Buying a safe

Even if you tend to back up all of your documents in a secure place online, it's still a good idea to own a safe. Servers can crash and files can be hacked. Plus there are certain items that you can't back up online. Spare keys to your home, vehicles, and safety deposit boxes are all important items for your safe that won't take up much room. Similarly, family jewelry or heirlooms are also priceless additions that should fit nicely. When buying a home safe there are a few things to consider. Safes can range from under a hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars depending on factors like their size and security capabilities. You should look for a safe within your budget that is both fire and water resistant, but is also a practical size. If you're only protecting some documents and keys, you won't need a huge safe that will be difficult to move if need be. A benefit of a large, heavy safe is that it becomes difficult to steal from your home to break open elsewhere.

Protecting your data digitally

There are two ways of digitally security your items. One option is to use a flash drive and then keep that flash drive in a safe place (why not in the new safe you just purchased?). The benefit of a flash drive is that they are small and can hold huge amounts of data--multiple years of tax papers, for example. For an added layer of security on your flash drive, buy one with encryption capability. What's encryption?  Encryption is a method of securing data by making the information unreadable to those without the key. There are several types of encryption and many ways of encrypting your data online. Another, simpler option for securing your data online is to use cloud storage. Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox are all common cloud storage systems that incorporate encryption. However, not all cloud storage systems are created equally. Some are better for security, others are designed to be convenient and user-friendly. Whichever storage service you decide to use, it's important to be smart with your passwords. Make them complex, unique, and change them frequently to ensure the safety of your data.  







Sharon Lanen Coskren