Safe Home

By: Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford with smoke detector in front of fire truck.

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There’s nothing more important than keeping your family safe from harm. From fire and carbon monoxide to radon and lead, hidden hazards may be lurking in every corner of your home. To make your home a safer place, you have to be able to recognize the danger, then know the proper precautions to take.

Read on to find out how to take action against some of the common household dangers in your home.

Fire Prevention

Smoke Detectors

There are two main types of smoke detectors:

  • Optical: Best for low heat, smoldering fires.
  • Ionization: Best for detecting hot, flaming fires.

Detectors are also available that combine optical and ionization sensors in the same unit to give greater warning for either type of fire.

How to Install a Smoke Detector:

  • Install smoke detectors on the ceiling or near the top of the wall and away from corners of the room.
  • Make sure to install one or more smoke detectors on each level of your home.
  • Be sure to install a smoke detector in or near the bedrooms in your home.
  • Replace the batteries in your smoke detector every six to 12 months.
  • Gently vacuum or use canned air to blow out the unit once a year.
  • Discard and replace smoke detectors after 10 years of use.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This silent killer is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that strikes without warning. It is formed as a byproduct of the burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, kerosene, or diesel fuel as well as from the combustion of materials like wood, paper, and cloth.

Improperly vented or defective heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, and generators are the main cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. Since carbon monoxide doesn’t rise to the ceiling like smoke, detectors can be mounted anywhere in the room.

Carbon monoxide detectors are available that plug into wall outlets or are powered by batteries. Detectors should be cleaned and the batteries replaced at least once a year.

Fire Extinguishers

Every home should be equipped with at least one multipurpose ABC fire extinguisher that can be used on combustible materials, flammable liquids, and electrical fires. Make sure your fire extinguisher is easily accessible, and that all family members know how to use it.

To use a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull out the pin
  • Aim at the base of the flames
  • Squeeze the trigger
  • Sweep from side to side

Escape Ladder

Two-story houses should have an escape ladder stored on the upper floor. Make sure the ladder is easy to get to, and every family member knows where it’s located and how to use it.

Hazardous Chemicals


Radon is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that can seep up into your home from underground. Exposure to radon gas over time can result in health problems. According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to radon gas in homes accounts for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year.

Due to geologic conditions, the presence of radon gas is more prevalent in some areas than others. To find out if you’re at risk, check out the Radon Zone Maps on the EPA website. If your part of the country is at risk, use a radon test kit to check the air, and take steps to reduce your levels if needed.


If you live in an older home that used lead solder to join copper pipes, the tap water passing through the pipes may contain elevated levels of lead. Water testing kits can detect if lead or other contaminants are present in the water in your home. If they are, consider installing a water filter designed to remove them. Change the filter regularly as recommended by the manufacturer.


Houses built before 1978 may have been painted with lead based paint which can result in lead poisoning if paint chips are ingested or the dust inhaled. If the original paint isn’t peeling and has been painted over with a layer of lead free paint, the lead probably doesn’t represent a health concern.

However, if the paint is peeling or demolition is taking place in your house due to renovation, you should test to see if the paint being disturbed contains lead using a home lead testing kit.


To prevent mold in your home, keep the humidity level under 50% and repair any plumbing, wall, or roof leaks as soon as they occur. It’s also important to cover the crawlspace under your home with a layer of 6 mil plastic to keep moisture from filtering up from the ground.

Child Safety


Anti-tip bracket for stove.

Anti-tip bracket for stove.

  • Attach childproof latches to cabinet doors, drawers, and the refrigerator.
  • Install an anti-tip bracket on your stove to keep it from turning over.


  • Lower the temperature of your hot water heater to 120° F to prevent scalding.


  • Cover electrical outlets with childproof inserts or install special Swivel Outlet Covers.


  • Fence your pool and install a childproof lock on the gate.
  • Install a pool alarm to detect if a child falls in the pool.

Other Tips from This Episode

Trunk Storage Hold Down

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Trunk Storage Hold Down

Here’s an easy way to keep items stored in your trunk in place while traveling. Use strips of self-adhesive hook and loop fastener, and attach the hook side to the bottom of a plastic storage container. The hooks will grab on the carpet in your trunk to hold the container firmly in place.
Watch This Video

Infrared Thermometer

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Infrared Thermometer

The Heat Seeker Infrared Thermometer from General Tools is easy to use and perfect for conducting an energy audit on your home. Just point the laser at heating ducts or cracks around doors to see the temperature on the LCD screen. The General Tools Heat Seeker is available at The Home Depot. Watch This Video

CFL Bulbs Save Energy

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
CFL Bulbs Save Energy

Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFL) have come a long way in recent years, and while they’re still more expensive than standard incandescent light bulbs, they make up the difference over time through the electricity they save. You can find out more at CFL: A Bright Idea for Going Green. Watch This Video



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