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Surprising Fire Hazards and How to Avoid Them

by Melissa Thompson

It is estimated by The National Fire Protection Association that over 47,000 home fires reported to fire departments are caused by some kind of electrical failure as a trigger to ignition.  But there are some other unusual ways that fires can start that we should all be aware of.

Dishwashers

While you may be aware that overheating dryers or ovens can cause fires, you might think dishwashers are safe because they have water. And water puts out fires…right? Wrong!  Dishwasher fires can be caused by liquids coming into contact with the machine’s wires.  Serious damage can occur when fires are ignited in dishwashers.  According to a 25-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, any appliance that powers a motor, heating element, or both always has a higher risk for fire - and dishwashers are a common example.  He advises that they never be turned on when going to sleep or leaving the home.

Jars and other glass objects

Per survivalists, one of the best ways to start a fire is to use a piece of glass to refract sunlight onto dry wood.  Without proper care, that same scientific process can happen on your own kitchen table.  In 2015 a fire broke out in a southwest London home because of sun rays reflecting through an empty Nutella jar, the Associated Press reported.  While it may seem to be a freakish way for a fire to start, the fire brigade’s investigative unit confirmed that the glass jar was to blame.  The chances of this happening in your home are slim, but it is important to remember to never store flammable liquids like gasoline, cleaning fluids, paint thinners and even cooking oils in glass jars that you intend to leave out in the sunlight.  Metal cans for commercial-use flammable liquids and plastic containers for things such as cooking oils are safer options.

Rodents

Small rodents like squirrels and rats like to burrow into your attic insulation in cold weather and chew anything they can get their teeth on, including rubber covered electrical lines.  Unfortunately, if electrical wires become exposed dud to their protective insulation being compromised, there is a likelihood of igniting a flame.  The key to preventing this from happening is to keep the critters out to begin with.  Before winter season, make sure all vents are covered, holes are patched and cracks are sealed.

Laptops

If you have ever had your laptop computer in your, well, lap for an extended period of time, you know that they get hot.  Because of this, it is a bad idea to leave one sitting on a flammable surface such as bedding, furniture or carpet.  But the real culprit behind laptop fires is the lithium in the batteries.  A poorly made battery can overheat and burst into flames.  Last year the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones were recalled because they were catching on fire and it was the lithium batteries that were the problem.  Any device powered by lithium ion batteries should be shut off when not in use and stored away from any flammable items.

If you are in the market to purchase a home,  make sure you don't skip the home inspection so that you will know about any potential problems, including fire hazards, prior to making a commitment to buy.  Melissa Thompson and her team of professionals are ready to help you find your perfect home. Give them a call at 901-756-8900 today!

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Keeping Little Ones Safe at Home

by Melissa Thompson

The statistics for household childhood injuries are staggering.  Over 3.4 million children experience some kind of accidental injury in the home each year.  While there is no way to guarantee child safety at home, there are certainly many things you can do to help prevent accidents and injuries.  Here are some tips for childproofing your home:

 - Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries.  Keep dangerous items such as medicines, household cleaners, lighters, knives etc. locked up. Even things with “child resistant” packaging should be kept in areas that children cannot access.  Child resistant does not mean child proof.

 - Safety gates can be used to prevent falls down stairs and to keep children out of areas with possible dangers.  When installing a gate at the top of stairs, make sure that it is bolted to the wall.  Make sure you purchase gates that meet safety standards.

 - To avoid burns, install anti-scald devices on your showers and faucet heads. 

 - Make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home.  It’s important to check them frequently to be sure they are working properly.  Change the batteries at least once a year.  Many people change the batteries twice a year when the time changes in the fall and spring.  Carbon monoxide alarms should be used in your home as well.

 - Corner and edge bumpers on tables and fireplace hearths will help prevent injuries if a child falls against them.

 - Children are very curious and it would be no surprise to find them trying to stick things into plug outlets.  Prevent electrical shock by placing outlet covers in outlets that you use. Make sure they fit snugly and are not easy for a child to remove. They should also be large enough that they won’t be a choking hazard should a child get one out.  If there is an outlet that you know you won’t be using, covert it with an outlet plate. 

 - Make sure that your window coverings are safe for your children.  Cordless window coverings are best, but you can also follow these tips for safety if you have window coverings with cords.

 - Large pieces of furniture and appliances can tip over and crush a child.  Make them secure by anchoring them to the floor and/or attaching them to the wall.

 - If you have a pool or spa, it is vital that you have it surrounded by a fence that is at least 4 feet tall and includes a self-closing, self-latching gate. Doors that lead out to the pool or spa should have alarms on them to indicate if someone has opened them.  A pool alarm adds another layer of protection. 

Again, while childproofing your home will not guarantee safety, it will go a long way toward protecting your children from injuries or worse.  The peace of mind you will have knowing you have done everything you can to protect your children will be well worth the effort and time put into making sure your home is as safe as possible.

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Dont-Let-the-Holidays-Stress-You-Out

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Maximizing-Small-Spaces

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Tips-for-Preventing-Electrical-Safety-Hazards

Tips for Preventing Electrical Safety Hazards

by Melissa Thompson

Electricity is a beautiful thing.  It provides warmth in the winter and cools you off during hot summer months. It gives you light in the dark and makes chores like washing/drying clothes and doing dishes so much easier.  You take it for granted because you’ve always had it and you certainly can’t even imagine what life would be like without it.  Because it is such a normal part of your life, you probably don’t stop to think about how dangerous it can be.  It is important to be educated about possible electrical problems in your home so that you will know how to deal with them before they happen.

  1. Do you know how old your home is?  Often older homes don’t have the capacity for electricity that current technology uses.  If you have never had an electrical safety inspection by a professional, now is the time to do so.  If your home’s electrical wiring has not been updated to safely handle all the current that your family uses, it is crucial to have it done.
  2. Is your electrical panel hot to the touch?  It shouldn’t be.  Check the brand of your panel. Several brands are outdated or faulty and should be replaced.  A faulty electrical panel can lead to a fire.  That is not something anyone should risk.
  3. Outlets should not be hot either.  If you feel an electrical outlet and it is warm or hot, it means there could be a problem.  There are dangerous issues indicated by a warm/hot outlet. Whether it’s too much demand on the outlet, faulty or melting wiring, or other precarious situations, you don’t want to ignore it.
  4. Keep plugged in appliances away from water.  This seems obvious, right?  But sometimes limited space forces us to use electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs.  Whether you are blow-drying your hair at your bathroom vanity or your kitchen only has one plug for your toaster and it’s right by the sink, be extra careful.  If a plugged-in appliance gets wet, don’t unplug it. Go to your electrical panel and unplug the power source for the outlet you’re using.  Then you can unplug it.
  5. Make sure you are using the correct wattage light bulbs.  Using a higher wattage than can safely be accommodated by a lamp or light fixture may overload its wiring, which is a fire hazard.  It’s ok to use a light bulb with wattage equal to or less than that called for on the lamp’s socket.  If you want brighter light, look for a lamp that uses a higher wattage bulb.
  6. Use an experienced, licensed electrician to handle your home’s electrical repairs and/or replacements.  Professional electricians are well-trained and have years of on-the-job experience before being granted a license.  They will know current codes and regulations and can safely navigate any problems they might come across.

It’s easy to prevent electrical hazards if you are informed and educated about what to be aware of.  So, don’t take electricity or your family’s safety for granted!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Tips-for-How-to-Make-Your-Home-Feel-Secure

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-Projects-You-Should-Start-Now

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Luxurious-Laundry-Rooms

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Tips for How to Make Your Home Feel Secure

by Melissa Thompson

Let’s face it - it can be a scary world.  Your home should be a safe-haven for you and your family.  While safety can never be guaranteed, there are steps you can take to make your home feel secure.  Here are some tips for making your home as safe and secure as possible:

  • Light it up!  While there is no reason to fear darkness itself, it is true that when bad things happen to people, they often happen under the cover of darkness.  So, brightening up your surroundings can help discourage people from lurking around your home.  Install energy-efficient bulbs in your outdoor lights and keep them on when it’s dark, or have motion sensors so that lights come on when there is movement near or around your property.  At night, keep some lights on inside so your house doesn’t appear completely dark.
  • Close window coverings when it gets dark.  You may not be able to see what’s going on outside in the dark, but people outside can clearly see in your house if your windows are exposed.
  • Get to know your neighbors. You certainly won’t feel safe if you are surrounded by strangers!  Knowing your neighbors will provide you with the security of having someone to call on if you are feeling unsafe.
  • Keep emergency numbers handy.  Many people use mobile phones exclusively these days, so it’s a good idea to create contacts for emergency numbers so all you have to do is touch a screen or push a button to call for help.  If you haven’t gotten rid of your landline yet, you may want to consider keeping it for safety reasons.  With a landline call, a 911 operator will receive your locations immediately, whereas it might take a bit longer to pinpoint your location with a cell phone.
  • Eliminate hiding spots.  Make sure your shrubs are trimmed and well-spaced so that they don’t provide hiding spots for burglars.
  • Don’t hide a key outside.  I’ve locked myself out enough times to know that it is a good idea to have a spare key somewhere, but people looking to invade your home will find it no matter how well you think you have hidden it.  Instead, leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor.
  • Make sure you have quality locks.  The lock is the weakest part on a door.  You will want a grade 1 or grade 2 dead-bolt lock that penetrates the door frame.  It’s important to have a duty strike plate that is made of solid metal or brass. 
  • Use signage to scare strangers away.  Whether or not you have a security system (or a big watch dog) you can place signs in your yard or by your doors that say you do.  You can also have a no soliciting sign to discourage salespeople (or someone pretending to be a sales person) from knocking on your door.
  • Invest in a security system.  There are many options for home security systems.  Do some research and choose the one that works best for your family.  Many security companies will come out and inspect your home to give you an estimate of what you will need and how much it will cost. Nobody wants an added household expense, but feeling of being safe in your home is priceless!

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-Projects-You-Should-Start-Now

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/5-Important-Things-to-Fix-Before-Putting-Your-House-on-the-Market

http://www.yourkeytomemphis.com/Blog/Quick-Fix-Tricks-to-Make-Your-House-Sparkling-Clean

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of Melissa Thompson Real Estate
Melissa Thompson
Crye-Leike Realtors
6525 N Quail Hollow Road
Memphis TN 38120
(901) 729-9526
(901) 756-8900
Fax: (901) 435-0620