Friday, February 24, 2017

HOW SAFE IS YOUR HOME? by Roz Denny Fox



Since our homes are one of our biggest assets, no matter their age we need to keep things in good repair. Maintenance is often costly and sometimes hard to schedule a workman able to handle a variety of chores. And yet it’s so important to try to protect your home from even unpredictable events such as fire, flood or other natural disasters.

Good maintenance helps your home maintain its value should you decide to sell or even refinance. Realtors tell you that. Still, it’s easy to put things off or overlook little problems. Have you noticed a slow-draining sink, a door that doesn’t latch well or is squeaky? I recently had a couple of annoying drippy faucets replaced. I also invested in two new kitchen light fixtures. I was faced with the choice of replacing odd round florescent bulbs and ballast, or getting new LED fixtures. It was more expensive but I weighed the long-term benefit of spending the money upfront to buy lights said to last a dozen years. The young electrician reminded me that repairs let go never become less expensive. He said his mom kept tripping on a loose kitchen tile, and she put off taking care of replacement until she had a serious fall.

So safety-proofing your home may help you avoid accidents or injuries. And that helps your peace of mind. Because we all know falls can cause broken bones or may be fatal. I read somewhere that one of the most prevalent causes of injury or death in older adults are falls. It stuck with me, because of course I’m getting older. I think the article said one-third of people over age 65 fall each year. Some of those falls lead to broken bones, head injury or other more serious injury.

Falling once doubles your chance of falling again according to the CDC. Many people who fall put off seeing a doctor. A person shouldn’t put up with aches and pains that may limit mobility and increase risk of more permanent damage.

Often a person who has that first fall pulls back from routine exercise they maybe were doing prior to the fall. Why, because there’s real fear of falling a second time. And yet the decreased physical activity weakens the body.

Do you know an older person who doesn’t have handrails on their stairs? What about clutter? A person doesn’t have to be elderly to have kids and pets leave toys on the floor, which could cause a person to trip and fall, say crossing a room in the dark. Items you may trip over aren’t confined to toys, but shoes, floor mats, throw rugs or some other thing you think insignificant.

The truth is that safety pays. The leading cause of home or apartment fires are: candles, smoking, old lamps, dryers, Christmas tree lights. How about cooking? Don’t turn away from a pot left on your stove.

What can cause primary water damage in your home? Broken pipes, leaky hoses, overflowing bathtubs, broken toilets, long-standing basement humidity, or less common flash flooding in areas not said to be known for flooding issues. Truly with the odd weather patterns that have been sweeping the country the last few years, it’s not always possible to guard against natural disasters like flood, forest fire, or earthquakes. But being aware, taking care of general upkeep to make your home as safe and secure as possible is simply smart on so many levels.

I actually recall saying not long ago after having to have a tree removed that was lifting my perimeter wall, replacing coils in my heat unit, call pest control for some unknown critters (perhaps moles) that moved into my courtyard without asking, and those pesky kitchen lights, that I hate being a home owner. So what do you think? Is it any better being a renter?

33 comments:

  1. I've often pondered that same question, Roz. Maintaining a home can be costly, but it's a nice feeling to know the property is yours...even if it does drain your wallet, at times. :)

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    1. Jill, that's what I keep telling myself.

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  2. Roz, your posts are always so thoughtful, informative and helpful. Another important tip for homeowners with heating systems is to have the furnace serviced EACH year. I've heard people say, "Why? I don't have problems with my furnace." Carbon monoxide is deadly. Not servicing your furnace increases the chances of exposure. In Ontario, it's now a law that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in homes, and with good reason.

    With respect to your question, I much prefer to own for many reasons, including in my experience it's been a good investment.

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    1. Kate, great addition. I had carbon monoxide detectors in my last house, but this one is all electric so only have smoke alarms. Thanks for adding this.

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  3. This is interesting, Roz. Like Jill, I like being a homeowner, but I'm not so sure I'd like it on my own. Quite honestly, Duane gets the dirty work--I mostly write checks and say "oh, really?" at what I hope are appropriate times. We stay as safe as we can, because we both worry about falling, but as you've demonstrated, there are a plethora of things to worry about.

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    1. Liz, I think that's when I began to question my joy at being a home owner. I now do repairs etc I never thought I'd do.

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  4. Thanks for this post, Roz. You always give us something to think about. Although I like being a homeowner, I'm not crazy about the upkeep, or the yard work.

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    1. Patti, your home and yard and shoffice are pristine. I think you must work at upkeep all the time.

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  5. Roz, I've got to remember your electrician's advice about how "repairs let go never become less expensive" -- that sounds true not only for houses, but also for clothes and computers and even relationships!

    I fell a few months ago while walking around the neighborhood (faster than driving to the track at the gym) and tripping over a sidewalk glitch. It was the most startling experience! (My husband and sister, both runners, say it never gets less startling.)

    But in this case it was my own fault, because I was reading a book while walking. Gym from now on, by golly. :)

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    1. Yikes, Laurie. I hope you didn't get too stove up. Our sidewalks are so uneven that I have to have eyes down all the time on my walks. Reading a book, so like a writer. LOL

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  6. Have tried both and much prefer owning my home to renting. I'm just now thinking about downsizing, though--I said thinking because I never get farther than that. 😌 Thanks for this post, Roz. Food for thought.

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    1. Leigh, I thought I had downsized, but when it comes to upkeep I've decided you'd have to live in a mole hole to not have work to keep the space in good repair.

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    2. Change your alarm batteries each year. Put that on your calendar. Scott does my A/C twice a year (I check with my dentist twice a year.) since my doctor tells me to stay off ladders. Scott knows the idiosyncrasies of the unit. As far as health goes: I follow this advice: "It's not the miles you travel but the tune ups you get along the way."~Found in my cardiologist's office. Cheers...

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  7. Sam, so right about smoke detector batteries. The new batteries mostly will last 3 years now. Since one of my alarms requires standing on a tall ladder I hope that's true. I wait until my kids visit and prevail on them to change the batteries. Thanks for this info, too.

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    1. You can ask the fire department to change the batteries for you. We had huge vaulted ceilings in my old neighborhood and my neighbors always had the firemen come out and change the batteries each year.

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  8. I love owning a home. It gives me a sense of permanence. If I'm renting it always feels temporary and that I can't really decorate the way I want since it's someone else's property. On the other hand, living alone means all the work is mine and I'm always wondering whether renting, or at least a townhome would be easier.

    Great information on safety as well. I think of that often, and if you live alone, it's even more important to be safety conscious since there would be no one around to help. I loved the electrician's comment...repairs let go never get less expensive. LOL. I will keep that in mind.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post...a great reminder with so much practical information.

    Linda

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    1. Linda, thanks for stopping by. I have a townhome now, only slightly less outdoor upkeep than my house on a corner lot with trees that dropped leaves into the pool I had to clean after Denny died. At townhouse I've actually had to caulk around an outdoor faucet that broke off taking part of the wall. I had to match paint---oh, fun.

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  9. The handyman changes the smoke alarm batteries every autumn, but one alarm went off in the afternoon anyway--some kind of glitch. The fire department sent a truck with four giant firefighters. They checked first for fire (hadn't occurred to me, I was only concerned about the noise), then shut the alarm off--great service! Also, I replace my furnace/A/C filters religiously to keep the air in the house as clean as possible. I wish everyone in the world had a snug home to call their own--it means so much to be so lucky--

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    1. Liz, I love your last line---what a great reminder that I should be thankful instead of whining. I do change my furnace filters on schedule. Okay, you've convinced me---I am lucky.

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  10. Great information (which I plan to show Mr. Curtis - lol).

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  11. Mel, I'm glad you have Mr. C to share this with. We need to look after each other.

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  12. Roz, this is such a great post with some fabulous reminders. I love being a homeowner. My husband is constantly trying to teach me how to do stuff on my own (in case I ever have to.) It's sweet of him but there's no way I'll every manage it with the ease he does. I smile and nod and take the screwdriver he hands me and do my best. My 90-year-old father in law lives alone in his home and my greatest fear is of him falling.

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    1. Carol, my advice is "learn". So many things I left happily to Denny. And the workers I have to call, well this just isn't their home. They do the minimal amount I think. Maybe that's only here. And I don't have a "handyman".

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  13. Hi, everyone! Linda S and Sam--we haven't been in touch in a very long time... So nice to see your names here.

    Lots of really good advice, Roz! Like a number of us, I'm now responsible for a little old downtown house on my own and there's a whole bunch of stuff I simply can't do (and, admittedly, don't particularly want to learn). My brother's been a great help to me with various fixes, and especially with the multiple tech issues I've had. And, as we all know, it's a good thing to get recommendations for tradespeople from your friends. (Have a very good plumber now--thanks, Kathleen!)

    I think a house of one's own (so to speak) is a real boon, a privilege but it can be a burden, too--at least occasionally. Like when the local raccoons tried to dismantle the deck... Oh, those clever hands.

    Right now, I'm sitting at my laptop, looking at the pictures and photographs and books around me, and I'm reminded of the way a house of one's own is so often a repository of memories.

    I realize I haven't added any safety tips but am definitely taking some away with me! Thanks, everyone!

    Paula Eykelhof

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    1. Paula, thanks for stopping by. A home is the most personal thing we own. I'm sorry to hear you had busy raccoons. I hear they're a menace in the attic, too. The tip about getting recommendations is valuable.

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    2. Good to hear from you, Paula. Keep that house in shape. Write some fiction and take a vacation of sorts in your "Woman" cave.
      Cheers,
      Sam

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  14. Good advice, Roz. We have a huge backlog of maintenance to catch up on this summer, as well as way too much clutter that needs sorting through. Also good advice from Kate about the CO detector. There was a carbon monoxide death in Anchorage last week.

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    1. Sometimes it's good to make a list and do a lot of things in a row. Clutter---when I moved I said, no more clutter on my kitchen counters. That didn't last. I'm a "saver" of junk I guess. Ooh, sorry about the CO death in your area and glad Kate mentioned it.

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  15. I've been all of the above, renter, home owner, and land lord. We are currently renting, and while I love owning my own place and painting the walls how I want, we've felt a wonderful sense of freedom knowing if we want, we could pick up and move next week. Also, where were at now, owning costs 3-4 times the amount we're paying in rent, so we have a lot left over for a lot of activities and travel.
    One day I'll buy again, but for now I'm having too much fun to be that tied down.

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    1. Do you have a good landlord? One that hears your complaints and fixes things? I've had friends who can't seem to get their rental management company to call anyone. That would also be frustrating. Have fun with your extra windfall of travel money.

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  16. What nice comments on your thoughtful post. Worth reading last so I see everybody else's reaction. My big challenge is letting go of stuff. Moving helps me let go of things.
    I was a renter and moved every year for 12 years. At that point I just had several large suitcases. Now after living in the same place for 17 years, I have at least one complete moving van of stuff.

    And I endorse your workman's comment that putting off a repair doesn't make it cheaper. Maintenance should be done ASAP because then you get to enjoy the improvements before you sell the house.

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  17. Laura, thanks for popping by. Each time I've moved I think--how did I collect so much "stuff"? My last move I had a 3 day garage sale and thought I'd sold everything but sentimental items. Wrong! I still have far too much rubble I no longer call sentimental. When I make another move I'm cutting to bare bones.

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  18. Good points Roz and as writers, our offices are in the home also and we need to keep them up to par. Thanks for the reminder.

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