1. Know where shut-off valves are located. If a pipe bursts it's important to know where your emergency shut-off valves are located for gas, water and electricity. Make sure everyone living in your home knows where to find them as well. Test the water valve for practice because they can become jammed from not being used over years.
2. Washer & Dryer Check-up. The hoses on your washing machine can break or burst allowing gallons of water flood your floor! Replace rubber hoses that are a few years old with steel-belted hoses. Also, lint can build up in your dryer vent, causing a fire. You can have your dryer vents cleaned out by a professional or on your own, but make sure to inform yourself on the proper safety measures first.
3. The buddy system as your security system. If a security system is an expense you cannot yet afford there are other safety measures you can take to make your home look occupied while you're away. Install lamp timers, keep a radio turned on to a talk station, and have a friend shovel your walkway and collect your newspapers. Make sure to keep lower-level windows and garage doors closed and all entrances locked.
4. Smoke protection. Your home should have at least one smoke detector on each floor and test the batteries twice a year. (Make it easy and do it right before you adjust your clocks in the fall and spring.) Smoke detectors last about 10 years. Make it easy on yourself by labeling a new smoke detector so that you know it's age when it comes time to replace it.
5. Severe weather alert. Prepare for severe weather. Whether your part of the country is prone to flooding, hurricanes or other natural disasters, take a look around and consider upgrades and simple maintenance to help minimize damage from wind and water. In tornado-prone areas, a safe room is always a smart addition to protect you and your family from the storm.
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