home safety

How to Keep Your House Safe During the Holidays

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The month of December is definitely a time for celebration. With parties, vacations and lots of fun events, keeping your family and home safe shouldn’t be left off the list. Take a few extra steps this month and you can ensure you make it through the season without any snafus.

Find a Friend (Or Neighbor)

Find someone you trust to drive by your house a few times while you are gone. From taking in packages or newspapers, to clearing snow, it’s always good to have an extra set of eyes looking out for you while you’re gone.

Alert the Police

If you are going to be gone for more than a week, it’s not a bad idea to alert the police of your absence, especially if you live in a small town or suburb. Police officers can do courtesy drive-bys to verify everything is okay and steer away criminals who may be scoping out the area.

Keep the Details off Social Media

No need to announce to the world that you’ll be gone for the whole week, away in Florida. If you are going to share in Florida, limit the details. It might be easy to rant about your delayed return flight but that can also remind people you won’t be home for another day.

Keep the Lights On

While keeping lights on while you are gone isn’t a bad idea, purchasing a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule is even better. Criminals who are keeping an eye on your neighborhood will notice lights flipping on and off and will assume someone is doing the flipping. Another great idea is setting two timers, each with different times, so that the switching seems more sporadic.

Pull the Plug

Unplug your television, computer, toaster oven and other appliances to protect them from becoming a potential fire hazard. It’s also a good way to save power since many appliances use power even when their turned off.

Remove Your Spare Key

If you have a spare key hiding on your porch or in your yard – bring it in before you leave. Depending on the traffic in your neighborhood, people may have seen you retrieve the key from the spot on occasion. Even if you do have a sneakier hiding spot, you’re likely not to have been the only person who’s thought of something similar.

Lock it Up

Make sure your doors and windows are locked every time you leave the house, even if it is just for a few minutes.

If the worst happens, make sure you have an up-to-date home inventory of the make, model, serial numbers and other detailed product descriptions of valuable items. This inventory should be kept somewhere safe, preferably electronically.

Radon: Do you Really Need to Test for It?

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In a word, yes. Testing for radon is critical to the home buying and selling process.

According to the EPA, testing for radon is non-negotiable, estimated at causing about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. The tests are simple and inexpensive and as a homebuyer, it will give you an irreplaceable peace of mind.

Quick Overview

Radon is a gas that can’t be seen, smelled or tasted – but its’ estimated to cause thousands of deaths per year. Breathing air with randon can cause lung cancer and the Surgeon General estimates that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., with smoking causing the most cases.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil rock and water and permeates the air you breathe. The gas gets into your home through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside walls and through the water supply. It can be found in all types of buildings but homes are the most worrisome, as you spend the most time there.

Ultimately, home repairs will need to be made if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or pCi/L or higher.  Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be more easily reduced.


You can test your home through a ‘DIY’ kit but if you are selling your home, you’ll likely want a qualified tester to do the testing and provide recommendations for you. A list of qualified testers is available by contacting your state radon office.

As a home seller, there are many ways to mitigate radon that has already managed its’ way into your house. Sometimes solutions are as simple as adding a vent fan or better sealing of foundation cracks. Newer homes are often built with radon resisting features.  A full list of solutions are available from the EPA here.

The home buying and selling process is full of nuances, to get assistance with the process or advice on your situation, contact us. We’re happy to help.