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A safe home is better to live in and easy to sell

Home sweet home is where we spend more than 50 percent of our time.

For most people, it is a place of security, but statistics can tell a different story. Most accidents and injuries occur at home, so I want to offer some tips to make your home just a little safer and more secure.

As Realtors know, a home that is more safe and secure to live in also makes it better to sell. The following checklist will help you enjoy home more:

Household products

Stockpiles of hazardous household items — such as paint solvents, pesticides, fertilizers or motor oils — can create a dangerous situation if not properly stored. They can easily spark fires and can cause illness or even death if ingested, even in small amounts. What to look for?Check all the corners, crawl spaces, garages or garden sheds in the home. If these products are found, make sure you store them in proper containers. If there are any children in the home, lock the hazards up. When you sell, assure the buyer that they will be removed and disposed of properly. Many municipalities offer hazardous waste disposal for free several times per year.

Handrails and trip hazards

There are stairways in virtually every home, either inside or out. Make sure there are sturdy handrails by each stairway and proper lighting. I suggest a motion activated light outside and light switches at the top and bottom of each stairway inside. Many people use stairways to set small items on. I do this, too. I put them there so I can take them “next time” I go up or down. I have been in dozens of homes where there are items along the side of an entire stairway, making the passage narrow and dangerous. Keep stairways clear for your own safety, but if your home is for sale, never store anything along a stairway.

Throw rugs and runners

These are attractive accents in many homes, but they are also a trip hazard. Be sure that door mats, throw rugs and carpet runners are secure and edges aren’t curled. If you are buying a home and see throw rugs, many times they might be concealing abnormal wear or damage; be sure you look under them during inspections.

Lockboxes

Lockboxes aren’t just for homes that are for sale. I have had a hidden combination lockbox outside of my home for years with a spare key in it. I never want to be locked out if I lose my keys, or if the power is out and the garage door won’t work. Did you know that many people don’t carry a house key and they just rely on the garage door opener in their car? Have a backup plan to get in your home. Don’t “leave a key over the light next to the door.”

Lock your car door

If you leave your car outside with a garage door opener in it and your car isn’t locked, then your house isn’t locked. Thieves look for garage door openers for an easy way to break in.

Forgetting’what you did’

One large hazard homeowners create is doing something around the house like installing an underground water or electric line, and then forgetting where it is. Years later this underground line becomes a hazard when you want to dig up the yard and plant a tree or bush. In this digital age, go old school and create a paper binder with printed pictures of where the underground installations are. Create a sketch or map with measurements that will help you find hidden lines and be safe. When you sell, provide all those pictures and sketches to the buyer; it provides a level of comfort that is impossible to duplicate.

Buying or selling a home, you want to know where the “hazards are” and try to avoid them. Realtors know that the more comfortable a buyer is, the more likely they are to buy your home. Be sure to try and reduce or eliminate the hazards to make buying and owning a home more enjoyable.

Radon

A colorless, odorless gas that can seep into your home from the ground, radon is often referred to as the second most common cause of lung cancer behind smoking.

What to look for: Basements or any area with protrusions into the ground offer entry points for radon. The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a map of high-prevalence areas. A radon test can determine if high levels are present.

Asbestos

A fibrous material once popular as fire-resistant insulation, asbestos was banned in 1985. However, it’s often found in the building materials, floor tiles, roof coverings, and siding of older homes. If disturbed or damaged, it can enter the air and cause severe illness.

What to look for: Homes built prior to 1985 are at risk of having asbestos in their construction materials. Homeowners should be careful when remodeling because disturbing insulation and other materials may cause the asbestos to become airborne.

Lead

This toxic metal used in home products for decades can contribute to several health problems, especially among children. Exposure can occur from deteriorating lead-based paint, pipes, or lead-contaminated dust or soil.

What to look for:Homes built prior to 1978 may have lead present. Look for peeling paint and check old pipes. To get a HUD-insured loan, buyers must show a certificate that their older home is lead-safe.

Groundwater contamination

When hazardous chemicals are disposed of improperly, they can seep through the soil and enter water supplies. A leaking underground oil tank or septic system can contribute to this.

What to look for: Homes near light industrial areas or facilities may be at risk, as are areas once used for industry that are now residential.

Darlene Mink-Crouse is the 2018 president of the Warren Area Board of Realtors.

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