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Safe and Sound

The reality is that accidents do happen, which is why it is important that homeowners are prepared for any emergency situation should it arise. “As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’, and when it comes to the safety and security of a home and more importantly those living under its roof – it’s vital,” says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
 
He gives a few safety and security pointers for homeowners to consider:
 
Have a plan

Goslett says that the first step is to mentally map out all the rooms in the home and then methodically work through each of them checking for any potential hazards or areas that could cause accidents. Once any potentially dangerous areas have been checked and rectified, it is important to set out an emergency plan of action with the family, so that everyone will know what to do and be fully prepared in an emergency situation.
 
Check inside and outside

Once the inside of the house has been checked, have a look at the garden and surrounding areas of the home. Ensure that swimming pools have safety coverings or perimeter fencing and any garden tools or flammable liquid is sealed and stored away in a locked garden shed or garage.
 
According to Goslett, packing away garden tools and items such as ladders is also important to ensure they can’t be used to break into the home, as these items often make it an easier target. He notes that palisade style fencing is a good option for home protection as it makes intruders more visible to those walking by. It is also good practice to keep entry areas clear of foliage which can be good hiding places for burglars.
 
Test alarms and other equipment

“A security alarm system or smoke alarms are only worthwhile if they are in good working order, so it is important that they are checked regularly,” says Goslett. “It is no use having a remote panic button if the batteries are flat or a smoke alarm that doesn’t trigger during a fire. Ensuring that these elements are in excellent working order is vital to the safety of the home and its occupants and they should be checked and tested regularly.”

Goslett notes that most security systems will have a list of system check instructions either printed on the keypad/system or in the manual. “Alternatively the homeowner can contact their contracted security company and ask them for instructions on how to test their security system,” he says.

Make sure the home is equipped with fire extinguishers and a first-aid kit

Just a small spark can lead to massively devastating affects if it results in a fire, which is why it is important for homeowners to keep fire extinguishers handy. Strategically placed and easily accessible fire extinguishers can help prevent or reduce the danger of a fire reaching an uncontrollable point. Goslett says that each family should be aware of the fire extinguishers’ location and how to use it.

He notes that another essential item for safety is a first-aid kit. This can be useful for treating something as minor as a scrapped knee or a major life or death situation. Other than the essential requirements, the first aid kit should include information on CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver and emergency telephone numbers. A list of emergency telephone numbers should also be kept near the phone or in a central place like on the kitchen fridge.

Contents of a first aid kit as specified by Netcare 911:

·                4 packs of sterile gauze

·                Adhesive, hypoallergenic tape

·                Adhesive bandages in several sizes

·                2 triangular elastic bandages

·                2 crepe roller bandages, 1 large and 1 small

·                2 large and 2 small sterile dressings

·                2 sterile eye dressings

·                2 eye pads with bandages

·                1 pack of sterile cotton wool swabs

·                Assorted plasters

·                Antiseptic wipes

·                Antibiotic cream

·                1 pack of paracetamol tablets, including liquid paracetamol

·                Rehydration sachets

·                Any extra prescription medication

·                Tweezers

·                Sharp scissors

·                6 safety pins

·                Face cloth

·                Thermometer

·                2 pairs of gloves

·                Torch and spare batteries

·                List of emergency contact numbers e.g. ambulance, family doctor, paediatrician etc.
A space blanket (foil blanket) is also always a good idea for any emergency kit.
 
Check electrical points

Where possible, turn off or unplug any unused electrical items to avoid overloading power points and fuse boxes. Goslett says that it is also worthwhile to have any electrical faults seen to as soon as possible by a professional, as electrical problems such as faulty lights or plugs could be a potential fire risk.
 
“For homeowners with small children, baby proofing electrical outlets is vital,” says Goslett. “Pets should be protected from electrical hazards around the household, especially young animals that are insatiably curious and inclined to chew exposed wires.”
 
Make friends with a neighbour

Having a trusted neighbour as a friend can help ensure the safety and security of the property and those who live there because they can act as a second pair of eyes, especially when the homeowner is away on holiday or an extended period of time. Neighbours can check on the property, turn on lights, feed pets and collect any post. Neighbours can also provide invaluable assistance should any emergency situation arise. 

Educate the children about safety

According to Goslett it is important for homeowners to teach their children how to use the telephone and show them where the list of emergency numbers is located. “Children will need to understand which emergency number pertains to which situation - a brief explanation of what each number is used for could be vital in a crisis,” he says.
 
Both children and adults should also know that in order for emergency services to provide assistance in the shortest time possible, certain details need to be given, like the physical address for example (which children should learn off by heart) as well as the name of the nearest cross road to the property and a brief summary of the situation.
 
Goslett concludes by saying that although there is no fool-proof method of guarantying the safety of a home’s occupants, taking the necessary steps to prepare will ensure that they are ready to successfully negotiate any situation.


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