Home safety (continued) Be aware of dangers hidden in your home.
Further safety tips from your caring Home Inspector.
A home or building can become a potential safety hazard, if one is not aware of what could be lurking “under cover”.
At a Recreational Youth camp building recently inspected/ visited, the lady in charge asked, shortly after our arrival, if we smelled natural gas, by chance. She was convinced there was a gas leak, despite the fact others had told her that was “normal” and always there. FYI, a woman’s sense of smell is usually more sensitive & quite acute. The answer was affirmative, so the hunt was on. All appliance and outlet connections were examined, with gas-detection equipment and eventually the gas leak was discovered at one of the two furnaces downstairs. Fortunately for everyone, it was in a very large space, so the gas wasn’t too concentrated yet, otherwise there could have been a big “boom”. The gas contractor was immediately contacted to repair the leak. Doors and windows were left open till the repairs were done.
Natural gas is odourless, so the gas company adds a “stink” to alert you to a leak. Thus, for safety, when the smell of “rotten eggs” is noticed, get outside even before calling the gas company. Do not use a cell phone or anything else that could set off a spark to ignite the gas. Inhaling a high concentration of natural gas can lead to a noxious feeling. Asphyxia can occur when your body is deprived of oxygen, and the more carbon monoxide there is present in the air, the less oxygen you’ll be able to inhale, which can potentially kill. Be aware, if you have a cold or a stuffy nose, you may not be able to smell the gas “stink”
Any time you have a gas appliance (s) in your home or a solid fuel-burning stove/fireplace, a Carbon Monoxide detector(s) is essential for your family’s safety.
Another “shock” found in the same building, was an exposed electrical cable that was “live”. It was left after an electric water heater (220 v) was removed and not shut off. Be aware that is a real hazard in a home or building “new to you”. A qualified home inspector can find these hazards to protect you – the potential user or buyer.
A tenant, recently, had a spontaneous electrical fire in her stove. She was unaware of this happening, as she was in the shower. Had her daughter had not come home, when she did, and found the fire, it could have been deadly. Even renters can benefit from a rental inspection, to make the landlord aware of potential problems and/ or for your “peace of mind”.
Many detached or semi-detached homes have security alarms and motion detectors installed to further enhance safety. These may not be necessary in a condo setting, unless on the ground floor.
Newer detached homes and multi-unit buildings have sprinklers installed, but this may not be available in older buildings as the code didn’t include it, at the time they were built. Be aware and have fire extinguishers handy.
Safety Glass Essential in windows adjacent to stairways & stair landings and glass or mirrors used in hinged and sliding doors.
For more information, click here : safety glass
GFCIs, AFCIs and tamper-resistant receptacles
Debate among Inspectors about recommending electrical updates will never end. Some don’t recommend retrofitting older homes with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and some of us will always recommend them. Some experts contend that over two-thirds of residential electrocutions and injuries could be prevented if all homes were retrofitted with GFCIs / Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
Exterior Railings. The building code requires that balusters on stair railings is spaced with gaps no more than 4″ to prevent entrapment of a small child. Recommended, also, that open risers in deck stairs be closed to within 4-3/8″ for the same reason. Many decks have stairs that are not compliant with the Code.
Guard railings for decks/ balconies and retaining walls over 24″ high, whether they’re attached to the home or not, is always recommend. Stairs and retaining walls are particularly inviting for children looking for a place to play and can be unsafe.
Garage door opening automatic-reverse feature
Garage doors are typically among the heaviest moving objects in the home and are held up under high tension. One of the most common defects identified is with the safety features of garage door openers. Typical photo sensors are often installed too high above the floor. Accepted standards require these sensors are installed 4″–6″ above the floor slab. They are installed to protect people, not the new minivan or sports car.
In homes built before 1992, with automatic pressure-reverse features, many do NOT have sufficient safety; 2 lbs of pressure is the maximum recommended.
Pools and spas
70 percent of the children were “not expected to be near the pool” when they were found floating face down in the water. Pools should be completely surrounded by protective fencing material, at least 6 feet tall. A slatted fence should have no gaps wider than 2 inches so kids can’t squeeze through. The gap at the bottom of the fence should be less than 2″ unless over concrete, where it should be no less than 3″.
Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a child’s reach. Consider an underwater pool alarm that sounds when something hits the water and is audible inside the home. Pool covers may be permitted by some jurisdictions, but they don’t provide the protection that other features provide.
Hazardous Materials Glenn recently spoke to a group of Property Managers on the Subject.
See http://www.safekid.org\ for a long list of potentially harmful and hazardous materials you may have in your home.
Always thinking about your Safety!