During this state and federal state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak, we are all asked to avoid all non-essential activities and to stay safe in our homes. And while we all may be in for a major case of cabin fever in the coming weeks, there is a silver lining.
First, there's the obvious opportunity to spend unhurried quality time interacting with the family. The second is the opportunity to get to all those "someday I'll" home projects that never seem to get done. So after you've done the spring cleaning of the house, raked the yard, organized and cleaned out the basement and garage, here are a few worthwhile projects to tackle that will help keep you and your family safe in the months and years ahead.
New Smoke Detector Regulations
Massachusetts has toughened up its regulations on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Existing homes (as opposed to new construction) are expected to have 10 year battery lives on their non-hardwired detector systems. If you are unsure of the age of your detectors, you can check the date printed on the back of the detector. If there is no date stamped on it, or if it has a 9 volt battery, it should be replaced immediately. Even with many businesses closed, hardware stores are considered essential and are open. Or you can order new detectors online for home delivery.
Here are the basic requirements for the new alarms:
- Must be photoelectric or combination with ionization detectors
- Must have sealed, non-replaceable 10 year batteries
- Must have an easily accessible silence button
- Can be combined with a carbon monoxide detector or can be two separate devices
- Must be placed on every livable level of your residence (including basements and attics)
- In homes that have two or more residents, detector systems should be installed in all common areas.
Other Safety Projects
There have been many great ideas put forth on how we can find the silver lining in social distancing, especially the stay-at-home requirement during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
We would like to suggest some home safety projects for your consideration. Each is a common household problem. Each is simple and inexpensive to fix, and they involve do-it-yourself projects. A couple could qualify you for lower costs on your home insurance.
* Clean and check the gas hoses on your barbecue grill. Spray soapy water on the hoses to look for leaks. Replace any rusted parts.
* Clean your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause a lot of problems, such as water damage to your roof and possible leaking throughout your home.
* Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Cleaning them properly is essential to preserving the life of your refrigerator and saving you money in repairs.
* Check for lint accumulation inside your clothes dryer and lint and debris that can clog the outside vent. Clogs that cause heat buildup too often lead to serious house fires.
* Draw up a fire escape with your family. Then practice it a couple of times to make sure everyone is on the same page.
* Install that deadbolt lock and the burglar alarm you never had the time to install. They will qualify you for a safety devices savings on your home insurance!
* Clear brush and tree branches away from your foundation and roof.
* Make sure that all inside and outside steps and railings are sturdy. Repair or replace as needed.
* Check for potential splinters on your deck, and on the kid's wooden swing set if you have one. Or for rust, loose bolts or sharp edges on metal swing sets and slides if you have those in your yard.
It is our goal at Keefe Insurance to keep your home, vehicles, and lifestyle properly protected. Please inform us of any changes so that we can properly assess its impact on your insurance program. Should you have a claim in the future, we do not want you to suffer any unpleasant surprises and find that something major wasn't covered. The most costly insurance is not having the right coverage when you need it!
Call or email us if you have any questions or concerns about your insurance program for the coming year. Call 508-528-3310 or 888-528-3310.
Our office is closed during this state of emergency in MA. But we want to continue to serve our valued customers. So please confine your insurance related questions, claims and other business to email and telephone. We will do our best to get back to you promptly.
CALL: 508-528-3310 and leave us your name, phone number and sort message.
Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
DID YOU KNOW?
We're having a new home built. What kind of alarms are required?
All new construction or major remodel must include hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
What do they mean by smoke detectors being expired?
The newer generation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are powered by a sealed battery with a ten year life.
In the event of a home inspection if you are selling the home or remortgaging, the fire marshal will take down the alarm and check the expiration date for the battery. If it has expired, you won't get your certificate and will be required to make the replacements immediately. So in the interest of keeping your family safe, make sure all your alarms are within their usage window.
Can I have separate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Or do I need to buy the combo ones?
You are required to have both kinds of units. But you decide whether you want the combined ones for aesthetic reasons or two separate ones. One reason you may want separate units is that the carbon monoxide detectors have a history of failure before the ten years. This gives you the flexibility to just replace the unit that isn't working properly.
Do I still need to test the units regularly now that they have 10 year batteries?
Yes, you want to run a test on the devices every several months. The sad fact is that most fatal fires are in homes that had smoke detectors, but the units weren't operative because the batteries were dead or the unit failed mechanically or maybe it was just unplugged. The unit is sealed to keep it from being diasabled and it must have an easily accessible silence button so people are not tempted to disable the unit.
My stove used to set off the old alarm. Where should I put the new one to keep it from going off when we cook?
Obviously, you want a spot that's far enough away from the stove that it doesn't falsely trigger the alarm. Many people put the alarm just outside the kitchen. If you are using an ionization device, it must be placed 20 feet away from a kitchen or bathroom. Photoelectric units can be installed anywhere.