Presented by Armed Forces Insurance

Add This To Your PCS Binder: A Home Safety Audit

Family with moving boxes

Sponsored: Our friends at Armed Forces Insurance have served the military community for over 130 years, and protecting your family is their top priority. That is why Military Bridge and Armed Forces Insurance have teamed up to provide your military family with this important reminder, as well as tips to perform a safety audit in your new home.

Military families are unique in that they often face frequent moves. Military members and families move an average of once every three years. In fact, the average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career - that’s three times more frequent than non-military families, as reported by the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity.

Moving to a new military community can often be very stressful, and an overwhelming process. More than likely you have a PCS Binder to remind you of all the things you will need to do before and after moving to your new town. As a military family with so much on your plate, it is important not to forget some of the basics that will keep you and your family safe.

It is important to remember that every new home has its own unique challenges and potential dangers. Making sure your new home is safe and properly equipped to meet all of your family’s safety needs can save lives, especially for military families who move frequently.

Make Your Safety Audit Part Of Your PCS Checklist So You Don't Forget!

Many PCS binders contain a checklist for when you arrive at your new military town, and include reminders for turning on the electricity, water, gas, phone, cable, etc. One of the things you should be sure to add is a new home safety audit.

A safety audit is one of those things that is easy to forget, and something that's often put off. But Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) reminds us that adding ”conduct a home safety audit” to your calendar when you purchase or rent a new home is essential. It can save lives!

Tips for creating a safety checklist for your new home

(1) First and foremost, we recommend adding your safety audit to your PCS checklist. If you don't use a PCS checklist, then add it to your calendar. I am a firm believer that if you want to get something done, it needs to be added to a calendar or checklist – otherwise, it's too easy to put off.

(2) Your new home may not be fully equipped with all the safety necessities such as a fire extinguisher, working fire alarms in every room, carbon dioxide detectors, proper fire escape tools, etc. Make these items a priority. A good time to tally up what your new home needs would be during your inspection or walk-through. That way you will know in advance if you need to get batteries for fire alarms, purchase a fire extinguisher, etc.

However, being in the military you may not be afforded this opportunity. In this case, follow the checklist below to quickly pinpoint what you need to make sure your home is safe.

Safety Checklist

(1) Fire Alarms

  • Test Batteries. If alarm doesn't sound, replace.
  • Make sure you have a fire alarm in every room.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. If you have an older home and the alarm looks ancient, replace it -- it's an inexpensive safety precaution and can save lives.
  • Consider replacing old fire alarms with new 10-year lithium battery-powered alarms.
  • If you are renting a home, the home owner in most states by law is required to provide working fire alarms in required rooms. You will still want to do your own check!

Armed Forces Insurance reinforces the importance of fire alarms: "Half of all fire deaths happen between 11pm and 7am when residents are most likely to be asleep, making an already dangerous situation much worse. Smoke detectors are an essential part of your fire safety plan. When a fire begins in a home, many times occupants only have minutes to escape. When a home has properly installed, working smoke alarms, the risk of occupants dying in a household fire is reduced by half."

Here are some additional tips from the Armed Forces Insurance Website to help make sure your smoke detectors are functioning properly and keeping your family safe.

(2) Fire Extinguishers

  • The American Red Cross recommends caution with fire extinguishers. Only use a portable fire extinguisher if you have been trained by the fire department.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with a fire extinguisher on all levels of the house, with one extinguisher in the kitchen.
  • The U.S. Fire Administration has online tips for use of Fire Extinguishers.

(3) Fire Evacuation Plan

  • Create an evacuation plan for your new home in the event of a fire. Teach your children how to safely escape during a fire. Practice and rehearse your emergency plan with your family.
  • If you live in a two-story house, you will want to purchase a fire escape ladder.
  • The National Fire Protection Agency offers some great tips on putting together a fire evacuation plan and teaching children how to safely escape the home.

(4) Carbon Dioxide Detectors

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas, as recommended by the American Red Cross.
  • It is critical to note that if you are renting a home, many states don't require the homeowner to provide carbon dioxide detectors. Therefore, this may be up to you to provide. If your rental property has gas, it is critical to have carbon dioxide detectors - gas can be a silent killer.

(5) Baby-proofing

  • If you have a small child you will need to baby-proof your new home.
  • Install safety latches and locks on cabinets and doors.
  • Install safety gates.
  • Install padding on furniture with sharp edges.
  • Install covers on electrical outlets.
  • Check cords on blinds in bedrooms to make sure they are not accessible to your infant. If they are, install the necessary tool to keep them out of reach.
  • If your new home has a pool, you will need to make sure the pool has a fence around it with a childproof gate. You may also buy a pool alarm.

(6) Security System

  • Consider adding a security system to your Safety checklist either before or after you move into your new home.

We hope that you have found these friendly-safety reminder for your checklist helpful in making your transition to a new military community as seamless as possible.

Our friends at Armed Forces Insurance are in the business of keeping military families safe. To learn more about AFI’s services and commitment to the military community, please click here.

Thank you to Armed Forces Insurance for sponsoring this post.

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