Autumn is the time to change clocks but also a time to make sure you are ready for the weather changes. Many hear, and most ignore, the call to check the smoke detectors in their house. However, there is so much more than the simple act of pushing the button on the dusty old disk that is stuck to the ceiling. Lots more. Household HQ has broken down some basic considerations for the fall checklist to help you get ready.
Our first category is not really the exciting one, but is definitely one that is worth discussion. Everyone loves a good cleaning, especially one that is dictated via honey-do list on a Sunday when your team is playing the division rivals. However, keeping key items and spaces clean keeps your family safe.
Let’s check out the list of fun:
Chimney cleaning and inspection is crucial if you have these for wood burning purposes. A winter fire is nice but sometimes a fireplace is necessary during the cold months. Don’t wait for the Yule log to light the house on fire to realize you should not have skipped this step.
Eaves are one of my personal favorites to do. All the muck and sludge does wonders for my skin. What does this have to do with safety and security? Well, if the water from melting snow or heavy rain cannot drain, then you may get some ice under your shingles and cause a leak. Not the best for a winter of dry warmth. While you are here, check the roof and shingles to make sure everything is functioning properly, too.
Light Fixtures and sconces are key for security. Block the light, and you have a pointless decoration. Even worse than the wasted light is the potential fire hazard. Keep these clean in the fall and enjoy a bright winter season.
Stove tops and ovens need to be cleaned more often than every 6 months. There, I said it. However, this is a good reason to do it again anyway. This should be obvious but, yes, large appliances that use extreme heat and fire need to stay clear of debris. You already have enough of a fire risk throwing too many casseroles in the oven at once this holiday season, don’t add to it by skipping this step.
Varmint and pest prevention is often overlooked. You could do everything right and some mouse could chew through the wrong wire. All of a sudden little Sally doesn’t get her 15th Frozen doll and Timmy just lost out on his new gaming console. Skip the plague, not the prevention.
Door/window evacuation points may seem pointless but everyone has that one door that no one uses in the house. Make sure it opens and that it is free of clutter. Same with windows, especially in the bedrooms of the house. While you are here, check the locks and oil them as needed. Security systems don’t do much if the door locks don’t even work.
Declutter your house, donate what you wish. Many families do this with their kids before the holidays to ensure that there is enough room for all of the new goodies that they will receive coming soon and that less fortunate have something to enjoy over the season. Lego blocks, although effective, are not a proper security system and intruder prevention.
Shrubs and tree limbs grow during the summer. No joke. Make sure that these are trimmed back to give you proper vantage points around your home. Also, this will allow an easier egress if you are coming out of a window. It doesn’t matter how nice they look, hollies are still pointy when you jump into one.
Heater/furnace maintenance and cleaning is something that you should get a professional to help you with. Do not let that deter you, though. It is important to change filters, clean out dust, etc. Similar to the stove and oven: heating elements need to be clean to avoid fire.
Snow blowers and flood prevention is regionally dependent. If you are lucky enough to not have to deal with 10 feet of snow per year, take the money that would be spent a snow blower and invest in some flood protection items. If you are so lucky to live in ski country, get a good snow blower, snow brushes, shovels, etc. It will be hard to evacuate or relocate if you can’t even get out of the driveway.
Car maintenance is important this time of year due to the extreme weather conditions. Test the battery, change out to snow tires, top off fluids, etc. You do not want to be stuck in the elements with a broken down car. AAA takes longer than you think.
Ok, so we made it through all of the boring stuff. I took this as a separate category in this blog
because this is specific to each home and family. As you change the standard, your equipment may needs an update, too.
Bug in/out kits often have items that may expire including food, water, meds, batteries, etc. Ensure you have up to date items and switch out any seasonal clothing that may not work for the next 6 months. Also, make sure if you have any updates to your family, that it is reflected in the kits.
Medical kits and home pharmacy items are important because you may not be able to leave the house in a winter emergency. You will need to be self-sustaining for days at a time in some locations. Extra prescriptions are great. Replace over the counter meds if they are going to expire soon. Check sealed and sterile items for tears in the packaging.
Home security cameras can be vital to early warning and prevention in your home and around your property. With that in mind, it is difficult to see through that nasty spider web that some giant radioactive arachnid built around the lens. Try to resist just burning the house down and take a broom to the thing. Adjust the camera as needed after your violent attack. Also, consider moving the camera to get a better vantage point based on vegetation growth, home additions, etc.
Home security systems should be used on a daily basis when you leave your home; if you leave your home. However, you likely do not use a panic button with regularity. Check to make sure this is working by working with your response team.
Firearms and ammunition are another daily item that you may have contact with but may not think to check. If you have not been to the range recently (shame on you) then now is a good time to do a quick cleaning of everything to clear our lint, dust, gunk, etc. Also, this is a good time to swap out any defensive ammunition that is carried on a regular basis. Weather can wreak havoc on the chemical components so shoot it up while you have it and replace it. The last thing you want is a squib or a failure to fire because you still have some hollow points that were cool in the 90’s.
Fire safety equipment is the original discussion point that brought us to this giant blog. Whether you have the old school 9 volt smoke detectors or the newer, disposable, 10 year smoke detectors, these should be tested. Use the button, don’t allow your mother in law to cook at your house as a test. Read the instructions to ensure proper testing. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector: GET A FEW. I promise you need more than you think. Also, some security systems have these all built in to use with your system as one cohesive unit. I love this concept because it allows you to test everything on a daily basis in the background. Do not be cheap here, people.
Fire extinguishers are becoming more popular in the home, too. Check the dial to ensure that the system is pressurized. Also, look for cracks or leaking. You need to have the material inside go to where you want it to, when you want it to. Not spray out of the wrong end of the nozzle.
So we checked over all the cool equipment that we have. The house is looking super clean and fresh for the winter. Now let’s check out how we are going to implement that in our safety and security plans. There isn’t really a point to have hundreds or thousands of dollars of equipment and not have a plan to use it. Remember, this is a plan update, drills come after the planning.
Evacuation Plans are, for the operational purposes of this blog, an immediate egress out of the
home or dwelling that you are currently in. Review a walk through with your family where to meet once you leave the home. Go over common egress points, update rendezvous points around the home that you will meet at after, and confirm with neighbors what your plans may be so that they can expect you if something goes wrong. Remember, your response team is more than 911 and your immediate family. It is important to note what the roles and responsibilities of those are in the home during this planning review. Who is going to get the children, which child, animals, etc? Having a plan to start saves precious time and this is the time to review all of that.
Relocation is the second stage of getting out. You may not be able to go back into the house or apartment after you leave, so make sure you know where to go. This can also be used in times of extreme weather approaching. It is important to know where you are going, but also how to get there. Routes, backup routes, navigation tools such as GPS and maps, and the ability to get to those points are all topics to discuss. Make sure you have updated contacts for those locations. Again, lean on your response teams at those locations. It is also important to have fail safe plans and find a decent, affordable hotel that you can utilize.
Security is important but often overlooked when it comes to planning. Who can plan for something that is so unpredictable? You should take this time to update your security intelligence assessments. I don’t care how nice of a neighborhood it is, or what HOA agreement you may have to keep you safe, you should still have a plan. There is real security and then there is the illusion of security. Don’t rely on the latter. Understand defensive positions, intruder responses, equipment inclusion practices, stash locations, etc. This is also a great time to update your security codes. These should be done more often, but now is as a good of time as any.
This may get some eye rolls from your teenagers or your significant other, but are necessary. No one will remember the family meeting on safety that you conducted, everyone will remember when dad fell out of the window conducting an evacuation drill. All kidding aside, muscle memory, no matter how small, is important.
Evacuation drills are arguably the most important because it is important to feel safe and secure in your home so your guard is down. Being able to react accordingly is important. When conducting these drills, remember common times, locations, and lifestyle patterns. Roles and responsibilities may change from day to day, and time of day, as some or all of the residents may or may not be home. Learn to navigate around your home without your vision and height. Crawl on the floor, set up obstacles, whatever you want to keep it interesting. Making this a game will help little ones get involved.
Relocation drills can be a little more burdensome than other drills due to the ground coverage and packing. Yes, you should go to that length. Bug out equipment should be loaded up and you should actually to go the location make contact with your contacts, etc. This is a great rainy day activity to get the kids out. Pack up everything and go to the location on the way to a more fun activity. Explore a different city or visit a relative during this practice. It’s a great excuse to leave Thanksgiving early when Uncle Butch hits the sauce a little too hard.
Security drills are difficult, again, since it is hard to understand the threats that could happen. It is good to practice a response plan for home intruders, being followed while mobile, and handling children in tense situations. Again, practice the panic/SOS techniques in your plan, clearing, and movement drills. Focus on roles and responsibilities, who answers the door, how to answer strangers at the door, etc. This is a great opportunity to engrain operational security in children as they can often be the weakest link for this portion. Little Timmy may not understand that it is not ok to share his pass code to the security system. Range Day is very important if you have firearms as a part of your security plan. Make sure you go and practice live fire drills, increase your proficiency, get used to quick movements with accuracy.
Emergency Response Training
So you think that you are top notch and you have everything covered. Nothing could be better than you and your little team of family. Wrong! There can always be another skill added or lesson to be learned. Here are some top suggestions that Household HQ offers to help you get even better!
Medical training can be intimidating to some but it is very important when it comes to sustaining life. First responders may be further away than you think. Time is crucial, especially when traumatic injury happens or a potentially fatal illness occurs. Household HQ provides medical training and is highly supportive of the American Red Cross. Go to their website and sign up for a CPR/First Aid/AED class. Make sure it is adult and pediatric. You never know which may be the injured or ill person. If your certification is expired, recertify.
Range day is important as I have said many times so far. But everyone hits a wall. Take the time and learn a new skill at your local range or maybe take a weekend and go to a more advanced class. USCCA and the NRA offer some basic and intermediate level classes that are great. The USCCA just released a training app, too, that is great for in home learning before hitting the range.
Fire prevention training is a bit harder to find in the common areas. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local Fire Department to have them give you a demonstration on simple stuff, such as how to use an extinguisher. Most fire fighters at these locations welcome the interest, but call first to set up an appointment. The kids will also love the tour of the trucks.
So there you have it! Lots to do this fall as you get ready for winter. Of course this may not be fully comprehensive, but it should point you in the right direction. Don’t forget to rely on professionals for the dangerous stuff like furnace checks and chimney sweeps. Of course, Household HQ is always available for any security, preparation, fire safety, and training needs. We are here to help you walk through drills or even start from scratch to help you go Beyond The