It’s your responsibility as a homeowner to maintain safe conditions in and around your property. If someone is injured due to a hazardous situation in your house, you will be held accountable and could face thousands of dollars in legal and medical fees. Take steps to protect yourself and others by preventing five of the most common causes of homeowner liability issues.
Areas Outside the Home
Slippery or uneven pavement in the front and back yards can cause a fall resulting in serious injury. If your home has a swimming pool or hot tub, there’s danger of accidental drowning. According to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, drowning claims 4,000 lives annually in the United States, one-third of them children under fourteen.
Repair damaged pavement, fill in potholes, and remove above-ground tree roots that can be a tripping hazard. Make sure your pool is fenced and the gate is locked.
Indoor Air Quality
One of the most overlooked hazards in the home is air toxicity. Houses with natural gas furnaces present a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, an odorless gas that can cause death. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that an estimated 36.4% of people die each year from carbon monoxide emitted by natural gas heating systems.
Protect the air in your home by having your fuel-burning appliances checked by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season, and install a carbon monoxide detector.
Chimneys and Fireplaces
Fireplaces and woodburning stoves account for nearly a third of residential fires. Creosote build-up in the chimney can turn your fireplace into a raging inferno that may ignite insulation, electrical wiring, and wood beams outside your chimney, resulting in a house fire.
The National Fire Protection Agency recommends chimneys be inspected and cleaned every year. Hire a chimney sweep to scrub out the creosote build-up in your chimney and make any needed repairs to cracks that might have occurred during a chimney fire.
Hidden Hazards in the Walls
Faulty electrical wiring hidden behind dry wall can smolder unseen for a long time before erupting into flames, causing an electrical fire inside the wall.
Inspect electrical outlets and switches to make sure they’re not loose from the wall. Remove extension cords from dangerous locations like beneath rugs and near heat sources. Don’t overload an outlet with too many cords as it could cause a power surge and spark a fire.
Stairs and Floors
Accidents caused by tripping, slipping or falling rates among the highest faced by homeowners. Stairs are particularly hazardous for the very young and the very old. Missing or flimsy railings on staircases, unsecured rugs, loose carpeting, poor lighting and slippery surfaces are common obstacles that can make someone fall.
Repair loose or damaged stair steps, and replace broken railings. Confirm that railings and banisters are anchored securely. Shed light in darkened corners of your home and make sure floor surfaces are a safe area to walk.
Most potential hazards can be fixed before causing any harm. Correct problems now and you’ll prevent a lawsuit in the future.