Archive for February, 2011
Have you ever wondered who creates those irritating alarms we all hear? Sometimes those alarms warn us of impending danger or just wake us up in the morning. Then there are those that you just wonder why in the world they were created.
- Tornado Alarms: these are incredibly loud for those that have the misfortune to live close to them and they are usually followed by instructions about what to do or what is going on. Only those living close by can even understand what the message is saying and those living further away just hear the “Waah waa waa” like in Charlie Brown cartoons.
- Fire Alarms: unfortunately these come in many shapes and sizes or should I say decibels and irritating qualities. Have you ever set off the fire alarm in your house or apartment because you burned the toast? It’s not the end of the world, but man you’d think it was by the shrieking alarm.
- Danger Alarms: These can be heard usually in a business or office building. They usually start low and go up in a whoop whoop sound and are followed by a recorded message saying that a danger has been detected in the building. What kind of danger? That’s kind of vague isn’t it? Is it the kind of danger that means I should get under my desk before the ceiling falls in or the kind of danger where there’s a maniac running loose with a machine gun. Sometimes annoying alarms just aren’t very helpful.
- Burglar Alarms: These are the alarms that stores have that are supposed to scare off intruders. Too bad they go off at other times too and it’s usually in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep!
- Alarm clocks: Now there could probably be a top 10 list of just annoying alarm clocks, but one of the most annoying has to be the big old fashioned ones with the big bells on top that literally scare you to death in the morning and are nearly impossible to turn off so you get to wake up everyone else in the house too.
- Back up alarms: You know what I’m talking about, the beep beep beep that happens every time the truck backs up. Seriously, these are usually huge trucks that have those alarms and I’m pretty sure we can see that they are backing up. We don’t need the beeping.
- Building Fire Alarms: Now these are much louder and even more annoying than house fire alarms. These would wake the dead. Which I guess is what they are designed to do. However, when you have been cramming for a test until midnight and some drunk freshman pulls the alarm at 2am and scares you to death and makes you go outside in the cold in your PJ’s it’s pretty annoying indeed.
- Theft alarms: Now I understand that stores don’t want people stealing merchandise and one of the ways that they deter thieves is by having security tags hidden on items. First of all, most of us know what they look like and could probably remove them if we wanted. Also, don’t you find that so many times they go off on people who haven’t stolen anything and the store staff just waves you on anyway without even checking your bags. What’s the point?
- Emergency Broadcast: “In the event of an actual emergency this signal would have been followed by official instructions as to what to do” Don’t most people hear these weekly tests so often now that no one pays any attention to them? If the signal kept going I suppose most people would eventually try to figure out what was wrong with their TV’s.
- Car Alarms: Last, but certainly not least is the dreaded car alarm. Do these do any good? So many of these go off by accident that no one even pays any attention to them unless it’s to get irritated that the owner hasn’t shut it off. Does anyone call the police thinking that someone is trying to break into a car? I think not.
It was reported recently that in North West Arkansas there was a child killed on the playground by a soccer goal post that was in bad need of repair. Knowing this is not our subject I felt it was a great place to start on the importance of safety in our home as well as around our home.
I called a “junk” man who deals in broken things, to come to my home and pick up an old swing set that has long lay dormant and in dire need of going into the never never land of broken swing sets – hopefully never to be resurrected again. So for #1 – remove things from the house or yard that are broken and can become a hazard. Keeping the swing set for sentimental reasons doesn’t make any sense to me – as my grandchildren and of course children will not be using it as they are past that stage.
Even in the house I could probably find a broken stool whose leg needs to be replaced but when? I’m writing this at a point when I am able to look around my house and survey. Getting ready to de-clutter from a long winter and recovery from surgery, it is all beginning to overwhelm me and I am ready to clean house! So #2 would be to remove anything in need of repair inside your home. Either repair it, or dump it. Easy as that.
Another hazard inside the home is clutter. Whatever room you place clutter, like old newspapers or magazines, or old bills, they can be a perfect rodent habitat and should be gone through and discarded. #3 we should never give pests a place to live in our home. For sanitary reasons if for no other, plus it gives the cluttered area a place to breath in fresh air, thus eliminating any stale odor the news print or magazine ink may have left.
#4, does the stairs on the outside of your home have hand rails? Why not? To protect yourself, and even visitors from an accidental fall, it is an important that a few dollars are spent to get the rail that accents your home, and have someone put it in place for you. Speaking from a Senior Citizen point of view, this is one of the most important steps one can take for safety in the home.
#5, throw rugs are often what they claim to be; a throw rug that can easily cause you a serious fall. I love small area rugs placed at the front door for foot dust or dirt one may bring in. I also love area (or throw) rugs on the threshold between two hardwood floor rooms. However these tend to be the ones to remove for safety. You be the judge.
#6, loving hot water for the dishwasher, I’ve never thought of a safe temperature to keep the hot water heater. The home safety council suggests keeping the hot water at 120 degrees F. to prevent burns.
#7, it is easy enough to mistake prescription bottles. What could make for a trip to the emergency room, can easily be prevented by taking care to read the bottle correctly, as well as placing medicines high above a child’s reach. It was not easy to admit I might need help, until a few years ago when I started filling a week’s worth of daily reminders. Any drug store handles these plastic containers and it is a small cost to help prevent taking the wrong meds twice.
#8, Many accidents, though not always serious ones can happen in the bathroom. A bathroom for the children or adults, need a non-skid (slip) mat in the bottom of the tub to prevent accidental falls. Then to go a bit further, a handle, like one that can be mounted or suctioned on is a must around the tub; something to grab hold onto while wet and leaving the tub.
#9, thinking of foods in the refrigerator that may be outdated is not on the top of my priority list of safety tips. However, it is important to occasionally go through the freezer, pantry and yes the refrigerator to check for outdated bottles of catsup or salad dressings etc. And even left over food that was intended to be eaten and never was.
#10, maybe just have been listed at the top. However wherever it is on the list of must haves for safety in our home is the burglar Alarm. Most Alarm companies will install one free just for paying a monthly fee to have it monitored. My home was burglarized before we moved into the state where we now live, and the only alarm we had was out little frightened dog that escaped somehow and warned us not to go into the house. We believe that as we entered the back of the house, the burglars were going out the front. No we did not have an Alarm that would have alerted the police or the neighbors for that matter. Maybe you feel secure in your little neighborhood, we did as well. However, take it from me. It pays to have one for those times when you are on vacation, visiting grandma for a few days, or going to be gone overnight. The feeling of security is great.
Burglars prefer to break into a home when no one is at home. To determine whether the owners are home or not, burglars have come up with several tricks for finding empty homes to burglarize. If homeowners can eliminate some of these telltale signs of an empty house, they may decrease the chance of being burglarized when they are gone.
- Newspapers. Burglars will look for newspapers piling up in the delivery tube or on a porch. Even two newspapers would be an indication that the owners have been gone for awhile and not yet returned. Having your newspaper delivery stopped or having a neighbor collect it and keep it for you while your gone could prevent this clue from giving your absence away.
- Mail in the mailbox. Just like the newspapers, if burglars find a couples days worth of mail in a mailbox, that tells them that the owners of this home are out town and likely a good pick for them. It is worth the trouble to have your mail held by the post office or picked up by a neighbor to keep your mailbox empty. This will also prevent possible theft of valuable information like credit card statements from the mail box.
- Overgrown lawns. If you are going to be away from home for a week or more, your absence may become obvious by the lack of lawn care. Hiring someone to keep your lawn mowed while you are gone can me a good investment in home protection as well as making your neighbors happy.
- No lights in the evening. Burglars will watch houses in a neighborhood to see if there are any houses that are consistently without lights when the other neighborhood houses are lit up. Some people leave some lights on in the house whenever they were gone. An even better idea is putting your lights on a timer to give the natural appearance of habitation where lights are turned on in the evening and then off later at night.
- Quiet. When a burglar suspects that a home may be unoccupied he will still listen for the sound of activity once he gets close to the building itself. The sound of a television, radio or music can be an indication that someone is indeed in the house. Leaving a television or radio playing while you are gone may provide enough of a concern in the mind of a burglar to stop him from entering.
- Garage windows. Looking through garage windows to see if there are any vehicles inside is another way burglars can determine if a home is empty. Add an empty garage to one or two of the other factors above and a burglar can feel pretty safe entering your home. Many garages don’t have windows. If your garage does, you may want to consider blocking their view from inside to eliminate this clue if all your vehicles will be gone when you are gone.
- Garage Doors. Many people leave their overhead garage door open when they are home and closed when they are gone. If a burglar is watching a neighborhood he may watch for this telltale sign. Simply eliminating this habit from your home can prevent this sign being used by a potential burglar.
- Obituaries. This is a sad and unfortunately true source of burglary targets. Burglars have been known to target the homes of families that are gone for funerals. Asking someone to stay in your home while you’re gone for a funeral can provide you with some extra security.
- Pets. If you have pets that are normally seen or heard around the home. Burglars casing a neighborhood may take note if these pets are suddenly absent when you board them during a vacation or weekend away.
- Phone messages. A name on a mailbox and an address may be all that a burglar needs to find your phone number as well. Having your last name displayed anywhere outside your home may be telling more than your realize. If your message states that you simply ‘can’t come to the phone’ a caller doesn’t know for sure why you haven’t answered. A burglar will be listening for a message that specifically states that you are away from home. It is best never to leave such a specific message as your recorded message when you are gone.
Burglars will seldom count on just one of these items to determine that a home is unoccupied. Do your part in deterring him by making it difficult for him to tell for sure whether you are at home or not.