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Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What steps can homeowners take to reduce hazards and the possibility of injury or tragedy within the home?

A: Studies show that burglaries occur at an average of every eight seconds, 400,000 serious residential fires take place every year, and more child deaths result from accidents than from all diseases combined.

Though we can never be completely safe at home, we can take certain steps to dramatically reduce hazards and the possibility of injury or tragedy.

  1. Make sure your home is fire-safe. Test every smoke detector in your house by pressing the test button. If it doesn’t sound an alert, replace the battery. In addition to testing smoke detectors, be sure to have at least two fully charged multipurpose fire extinguishers in your home. Place one in the kitchen area, and one in the garage, making sure they’re in clear view at all times.
  1. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The surest prevention in this area is to have a professional technician inspect flues and vents, chimneys and any fuel-burning equipment.
  1. Make your home more secure. A home security system can protect your house and family from burglary, carbon monoxide and fire whether you’re home or miles away.
  1. Be prepared for emergencies. Develop an escape plan and practice it with a family drill. Remember that each room should have at least two exits.
  1. Make your home safe for children. If you have a swimming pool, pond or hot tub, be sure kids can’t get into them on their own. And never leave children unattended near pools or tubs. Additionally, if you have small children in your home, check for poisons or objects that could be ingested, and eliminate the potential for falls.

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