Now that the heating season has officially begun, my thoughts turn to home safety and security. I’m a “be prepared” kind of gal; my family suffered a devastating house fire over 20 years ago. It was a scary thing. THANK GOD no one was home at the time, but the house was a total loss. I had just moved out to my own apartment, but I lost a lot of books and art work and other things. I am a stickler for security measures. So when winter rolls around every year, after the outdoor and renovation activities have ceased, I turn my attentions to “battening down the hatches” for another Upstate New York winter. And this is a great time to get deals for security items for the home. Here are some ideas that you can consider:
I know, this is a no-brainer, right? Everyone seems to realize that every room needs a smoke detector, but how many homes actually have a working smoke detector in every room? Since the renovation, I still haven’t gotten around to installing detectors in every room. Some local codes require that you have a detector in every room, or at least on every floor of the house (including the basement).
You can get very inexpensive smoke detectors anywhere, but I usually stick with the name-brands for stuff like this. First Alert is a good brand. I will be buying more of these.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
If you use combustible fuel sources to heat your home or your hot water, you need a carbon monoxide detector. You should install one of these on every floor of the house, and/or near the furnace or gas outlet equipment. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, highly toxic gas. A furnace or heater emits this gas when the fuel is not properly combusted. Local codes regulate the placement of these devices, so your codes may be more stringent.
This is a new device that I found while shopping at Buy.com. I’m going to get one. This device senses and alerts you of gas leaks in the house. Natural and propane gas is odorless, but utility companies add a sulfuric compound to the gas, to make it smell like rotten eggs. This helps you know if there is a leak. But sometimes leaks are small, or your nose does not smell (or becomes accustomed to) the smell of gas. This device alerts you of a gas leak.
It may seem that if you get all these detectors, your entire ceiling and wall will be covered with these things! Some companies combine the detectors– I have seen combination smoke and carbon monoxide, and combination carbon monoxide and gas leak detectors.
Be sure to have batteries on hand, and replace them at least once a year!
A Safe Box
Also called a fire box or sentry box, this insulated, heavy-duty box will store your most important items in the event of flood or fire. Buy.com has a bunch of them in all shapes and sizes, from $25 to $500. Some are very sophisticated.
Most boxes are locked with keys, although the expensive brands sport electronic keypads. These things weigh a ton, and the outside is a lot bigger than the inside, so get as big a unit as you can afford. Oh, and DON’T LOSE THE KEY. Yeah.
External Hard Drive or Data Storage
If you are like me, a good portion of your most important documents and photos are digital, on your computer. Should your computer hard drive die, or should your computer become damaged by some freak of nature or accident, you could lose everything. Set aside all your important digital data on a dedicated external hard drive. Place it in the safe box for safe keeping. Update it from time to time.
External hard drives can be pricey, but you can get very good deals if you keep your eyes on a good sale. I spotted this enormous Fantom G-Force 1 Terabyte External drive for $50! That’s a steal.
If you don’t want to get an external hard drive, you can also create a DVD with the digital data, and store it in a safe place like a safe box or in a shed or something. Additionally, if you have webmail or some online storage space, you can upload that data to keep it on someone else’s server. I wouldn’t place sensitive documents there, though, because a hacker could possibly gain entry to your data. But you can store your photos on Flickr or Photobucket, or on a web server.
So home safety and security just requires a few steps and some investment. You can decrease the cost by shopping around for deals, too. Be safe!