Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners

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You’ll definitely say “boo” if you are faced with a claim to your homeowners insurance because of a Halloween accident on your property. Fortunately, there are some really easy things you can do ahead of time to make sure Halloween is a safe and fun day.

Keep your lights on. You want your visitors, including trick-or-treaters, to see clearly when they enter your property after dark to avoid injuries caused by falling. And, keeping some lights on can stop burglars, so you’ll want to do this regularly, not just on Halloween.

Create a clear path. Make sure there is nothing in the driveway or other walkways that someone may trip on. Remove lawn art and gardening equipment, and make sure all toys, flower pots/planters, etc. are put away. Little kids like to scamper. They aren’t looking for these hazards. If you have any loose steps or stones, make sure to repair those, too.

Use flameless candles. Do you like the way the dark looks with a flickering flame? Use flameless candles or battery powered lanterns. If you do use regular candles, watch them closely and keep them away from curtains that may blow into the flame. Use flameless candles in your jack-o-lanterns, too.

Put your pets in another room. Keep dogs and cats away from trick-or-treaters. They may be spooked by the extra activity, loud noises and costumes.

Set your alarm system before you leave. Halloween brings out the most mischievous so protect your home with your home alarm system. And why not use Halloween as one of the days you always check your smoke alarms, too!

Halloween’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a day that sees a lot of injuries. Don’t be caught off guard.

Protect Your Family, Yourself and Your Home from Would-Be Burglars

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Do the commercials on TV keep you up at night because you know you can’t always be at your phone and ready to tell them to get off your porch? You can’t be at your computer or on your phone all day every day telling burglars to go away. You can take some steps to make your home less inviting for a would-be burglar. Check out some home safety tips! 

Pretend you are a burglar. Case your own home. Walk around and look at your home like a burglar would. Are windows frequently left open and on the ground level? Is there a sliding glass door that could stand a little extra protection? Are expensive items easy to see from the outside? A few simple adjustments like moving a computer and closing windows may make your house less tempting.

Lock your doors. Although we know we need to lock our doors when we go out, a lot of times we simply don’t. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 40 percent of burglaries don’t include forced entry. Thieves literally are just walking in and taking what they want. A locked door is a deterrent.

Don’t label your keys or mailbox. If your key chain has your name on it and you lose your keys, it won’t take long for a thief to get your address and walk in. In addition, putting your name on your mailbox helps a thief find out information about you and track your moves. He’ll know when you’re not home.

And don’t hide a key. A thief knows where to look for hidden keys. Leave a key with a neighbor, but don’t leave one under a mat, in a light fixture or in a flower pot.

Create the illusion of being home. Leave on lights, the radio or television. If you are going on vacation, use light timers and have someone pick up your mail, newspapers, flyers and packages. Have someone mow your lawn in the summer and shovel your walkways and driveway in the winter. An un-shoveled driveway with no tire tracks is an obvious sign that no one is home.

Get to know your neighbors. It’s nice if someone nearby notices if something unusual is happening. You can also tell your neighbors when you’re going to be gone so they can watch for unusual activity. And studies show that neighborhood crime watches do deter against criminal activity. If there’s not one in your neighborhood, start one.

Don’t be a target for a home invasion. Taking steps to protect yourself and even your neighbors is easy. Better safe than sorry. Get more tips here

Surprised by Unexpected Guests? Give Your Home a 20-Minute Quick Clean

Guests come to visit and see new house

Did you just get a text saying your old friend is in the neighborhood and she’s stopping by? You may not have a lot of time to freshen up your home, but maybe you don’t need it. Fake your way to a clean house with a 20-minute quick clean!

Does the smell of last night’s dinner still linger? Control some smells! Start by popping open some windows and turn on a fan to circulate the stale air. Then put some cookie dough in the oven – easy to do if you store some in your refrigerator to use in a pinch. You’ll get twice the bang for your buck a pleasant smelling house and sweet treats to share.

Clear the clutter. Now is the time for a “teen clean.” You remember those days, when you threw everything in a laundry basket and hid it in a closet. That works when you’re an adult, too.

Tidy your sitting space. The next place to tackle is the room you’ll be sitting in. Do a quick dusting, pick up any magazines, socks, cat toys, or whatever you find in the room that you wish wasn’t there. Toss them in the laundry basket. Work a room from right to left or left to right so you don’t miss anything and you have an easy pattern for success. Have five more minutes? Run a vacuum around this room and the hall leading to the room, and the entry way.

Disinfect with ease. You know those disinfectant wipes you store under your bathroom sink? Now’s the time to pull them out and run a few around the toilet and the sink (and even the tub!). Your bathroom will sparkle in no time. No wipes? Paper towel and an all-purpose spray will work just as well. And while you’re at it, empty the waste basket. And the last step? Put in a fresh hand towel, and make sure you have toilet paper and soap.

Do the dishes. Or at least move any dishes you have in the sink to the dishwasher. Dishwasher full? Empty it or wash the dishes by hand. In the end, you’ll wish you had emptied the dishwasher, so go ahead and get that done if you can.

And remember: A spouse and kids are the greatest Quick Clean helpers around.

And remember this, too: Don’t apologize if you’re house isn’t spotless. You weren’t anticipating guests.

And the best news of all: Your house is clean enough! You can take a break on the weekend (after you put the things in the laundry basket where they belong).

Help Seniors Stay Safely in Their Homes Longer

Grandmother and granddaughter cooking in the kitchen.

As seniors age, the risks of living at home grow. A few changes to their homes may make it possible for seniors to stay in their own homes longer, helping them to save valuable financial resources and live comfortably in the home they know. Here are 5 tips to get started.

Lighten and Brighten the Home. Ensure areas around entryways, hallways and stairs are well lit, and add brighter or extra lights if needed. You can also install glow-in-the-dark light switches or motion-sensor lighting throughout your home so seniors don’t struggle to find the light switch in the dark.

Make Doors Easy for Seniors with Arthritis to Open. Turning door knobs may be difficult, especially if a senior has arthritis. Lever-style door handle may be easier for them to use than a round one.

Make it Easy for Seniors to Move Around Safely. It’s important to make it easy for your senior loved one to move around the home. Remove tripping hazards like rugs, children’s toys, pet toys, etc. Make sure cords aren’t dragged across the floor. And watch for furniture that may be placed near hallways or doors. Seniors may be at risk of bumping into these.

Provide Safe Places to Sit. A chair or bench at the front door or whatever door they enter regularly is helpful. Seniors can sit down while taking off shoes or putting on shoes or boots. They can also place bags or other packages there when they come in from outside.

A tall counter stool is also a great addition to the kitchen. It can allow seniors to remain independent and cook while sitting down, which is great for seniors who can’t stand for long stretches of time.

Do a Double Check on the Bathroom. A walk-in shower is much easier for seniors so they don’t have to step into a tub. Adding hand rails and grab bars will help them with balance.

You can also purchase a stool that is made for showers or tubs so they can sit in the shower. And special shower heads can be installed with hoses so they don’t have to stand up and reach above them.

If room allows, consider putting stool or small chair in front of the mirror so they can sit when shaving or participating in on other grooming routines.

Make It Easy to Call for Help. Consider using a call-assist service or personal emergency response system that the senior can wear on their neck or wrist and push a button if they need help. If this isn’t an option make it easy for seniors to have their cell phone with them or near them at all times.

Seniors may need a little extra help and a little extra love as they age. But many can stay in their homes safely with a few changes around the house. 

Home Improvement Jobs for the Whole Family

Little girl painting her room

Are you looking for something to do with your kids when “there’s nothing to do,” here are some good home improvement jobs that are good for the whole family – spend time together, educate your kids, AND get jobs done!

What do kids learn from home improvement projects?
It’s more than just a project! It’s an education.

  • How to create budgets;
  • How to shop for what you need and navigate a home improvement store;
  • How to choose tools they need;
  • How to work with them safely.

Here are some fun jobs.

Paint! Paint walls or paint furniture. If the job isn’t super detail-oriented, kids can add to the fun and help you get walls painted sooner. The best thing about painting is that following behind and fixing mistakes is easy.

Garden! Kids love to get dirty, and when is it easier to get dirty than when you’re playing in actual dirt. Younger kids and older kids alike can be great helpers when it comes to pulling weeds, raking leaves or pine needles, or digging holes to plant flowers. They are also great helpers when it comes to watering flowers and other plants. Look around at your yard. This is a great place to bring in their help.

Go solar! Let your kids create a little solar light walkway in the yard. Kids can place these around sidewalks or garden beds and love to watch the lights go on as the sun goes down.

Build! If your child is old enough, he or she may be able to hammer some nails for you, as you work on a fence or deck. You can start the nail by knocking it into the wood and then let your child come by and finish the job. You can also be bold and build equipment storage, bird houses or other things.

Decorate! Are you hanging pictures or re-arranging a room? It’s easy to include them by letting them tell you “a little to the left” or by letting them move some unbreakable and light pieces like books or small paintings, etc.

Craft! Do you need a new bulletin board in the study? Let your kid decorate the border or a small place on the board. Looking for a new pencil holder? A clean can and some stickers can go a long way. Look around at places that a personal kids’ touch can be perfect and let them play.

Not sure where to start? Ask your kids if they have a project they would like to tackle. If it’s something they’re interested in, then getting the job done is easier!

It’s all in the family when it comes to making your house your home. 

Good Neighbors Build a Good Neighborhood

Two senior women sat in garden waving

Are you ready to get outside for some spring mixing and mingling in the neighborhood? Here are a few reminders on how you can be the best neighbor ever!

Invite your neighbors over. Host a backyard barbecue or have a few neighbors over for some appetizers on a Friday night. You may be surprised at what a great time you have and how often you hear, “We should do this more often.”

Let your neighbors know if you see anything “out of the ordinary” while they are away. Your gut knows. If you see strange cars or other odd activity at a neighbor’s house, call them or text them. Is the garage door open and no cars are around? Let them know.

Drive slowly in your neighborhood. It’s important to be aware of the speed limit on neighborhood streets. Kids are playing, pets are outside, and the streets are often narrow. Slow down and take your time.

Mow your lawn. No one wants to be the person whose yard is overgrown. If you don’t have time to mow or weedwhack, hire a teenager from the neighborhood. Hiring from inside the neighborhood when you need some yard work or a pet sitter or babysitter…that’s being a good neighbor, too!

Don’t shine too brightly. Make sure your outside lights face your house and aren’t too bright. There’s nothing worse than a light shining in your house at night, especially when it’s not your own.

Pick up your neighbors’ newspaper and mail when they are out of town. It’s an easy task and helps keep the neighborhood safe. Mail and newspapers that stack up let others know someone is out of town.

Close your garage door. This may not seem like it has anything to do with being neighborly, but no one wants to look inside your garage. The neighborhood just looks nicer when garage doors are closed. In addition to being a good neighbor, you’ll be protecting your home from would-be burglars who often walk in through open garage doors. So be an even better neighbor by telling your neighbors when they accidentally leave their garage doors open.

Don’t let your dog bark. Besides being less than polite, your barking dog could get you a ticket. If your dog is a barker, hire a trainer to help you deal with the problem or bring your dog inside. And it goes without saying that a good neighbor cleans up after her dog!

Turn your music down. If you like to have the radio on when you wash your car, that’s great. But don’t play it so loudly that everyone can hear it. And don’t forget to turn it off when you go inside.

If you have an issue with a neighbor discuss it in person. Don’t wait until your neighbor’s barking dog makes you crazy or his speeding through the neighborhood makes you mad, discuss the problem in-person with your neighbor. And never leave an anonymous note in the mail box.

And the easiest way to be a good neighbor – Say hello. It’s amazing how far a smile and a hello can go in the neighborhood. It’s the easiest way to create a happy, warm environment. Welcome to the neighborhood!