When I bought my first house, I had no idea what I was doing. The worst part was, if anyone was trying to help, I wasn’t listening to them. Over the years, I have figured out some common items that I need to keep my house safe and maintained, and the list below covers just a few of the items that I think are most important.
Remember, you don’t want to be the neighbor that is always asking others for help.
If you have never heard of a curb key, I assure you it does not unlock a hidden treasure beneath the street in front of your house. What it does do, in most cases, is enable you to shut off your water at the meter.
The house I grew up in had a main water shutoff in a closet on the first floor – I thought this was how all houses were – I was wrong. When remodeling my first house, I must have spent 2 hours looking for the water shutoff! Finally, I made my way outside and was poking around by the water meter when one of my neighbors asked if I needed to borrow their curb key!
So don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what this was a few minutes ago – we’re all here to learn.
Curb keys not only come in handy when you don’t have a dedicated water shutoff, but also when there is a leak. Fast forward a few years, I had a leak in the water pipe between the meter and my house. My front yard was wet and the meter box was full of water. Luckily, I was able to shut off the meter and save myself from paying for water I wasn’t using. It was a full 3 days before someone made it out to fix the pipe – that could have been expensive!
Some of you may be laughing at me and saying “duh” everyone should know this. And some of you are like I was when I first bought a house and are thinking “huh” I have a water hose.
While a water hose is great when battling a raging firepit at the end of a long evening of chilling on the back porch, it won’t help much in the case of a kitchen fire – or any indoor fire really.
First of all, water should not be used to put out grease fires in the kitchen! Water will just displace the grease and cause the fire to spread. There are fire extinguishers rated for grease fires (Class B).
What about electrical fires? Yeah, you shouldn’t take a hose to an electrical outlet or any live electrical equipment for hopefully obvious reasons (hint: water conducts electricity). Class C fire extinguishers handle this type of fire.
If the classes are throwing you off, don’t worry about it. They sell all-purpose fire extinguishers that are rated A, B, and C!
And any other type of fire in the house is going to spread quickly – having a few fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout your home can help avoid a complete loss in the event that things get out of control. But please remember, safety should come first. Possessions are replaceable – people are not.
I suggest keeping a 6’ step ladder at a minimum. I’ve found over the years that a 6’ ladder will allow me to get almost anything I need done around the house. Now this may vary depending on how tall your ceilings are, how tall you are, and what exactly you’re using it for. Will a 6’ step ladder get you on the roof of your 2 story house? NOPE. But will it help you reach that weird cabinet above your refrigerator? YEP. It will enable you to change light bulbs, access your attic (if you have 8’ ceilings), wash your windows, and clean your crown molding. If your house has taller ceilings, you may need to invest in an 8’ step ladder to do some of the above-mentioned tasks.
If you’re interested in getting on your roof, or cleaning gutters, look at aluminum extension ladders. There are some reasonably priced ones that are fairly easy to store and handle on the market.
I know, a ladder sounds like common sense as well – and it very well could be to most of you, but sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else!
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Again, this should be common sense. The smoke detectors should be code in most of your houses so give them a quick check and make sure they are operating as advertised!
Carbon monoxide detectors may not be code nor common sense though. These are extremely important, especially if you have a gas furnace in your home. As your furnace ages, the risk of a cracked heat exchanger increases. Cracked heat exchangers leak carbon monoxide into your air supply and it can be deadly if not detected.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends installing at least one CO detector per floor of your home, either on a wall about 5 feet from the ground or on the ceiling. Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless and deadly – CO detectors should not be an afterthought!
I hope that you got something from my above suggestions. If there’s something that you think I’m missing on my list, let me know! We love hearing from readers.