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Minor home improvements can help safeguard your home this summer

Updated May 16, 2011

While you work hard to keep up the nice appearance of your home this summer, don't forget about safety! Here are a few home-improvement tips that will protect your family from harm:

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Prevent shocks | Pool safety | Home security | Smoke detectors

Prevent shocks

Water and electricity make a very dangerous mix. Any appliance near plumbing, puddles or a body of water could cause electrocution. Prevent accidents by installing a ground fault interrupter in any outlet that has the potential to come in contact with moisture. This includes outlets in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage and any outdoor outlets.

Ground fault interrupters are available at any hardware store, and are a few dollars more than a normal outlet. Most come with good instructions and can be installed by anyone with average knowledge about electrical equipment. If you need help, consult an electrician. An electrician may also help you install a ground fault interrupter in your home's main electrical breaker board.

Pool safety

The law requires that pool owners maintain a 6-foot-tall fence around their backyard; another fence is recommended around the perimeter of the pool to keep small children safely outside.

Any gates leading to the pool must also be at least 6 feet high, and must be self-closing and self-latching.

Ask for a complete list of pool regulations at City Hall's Building and Safety Counter.

Home security

Tempered glass, laminated glass or polycarbonate plastic is recommended for sliding-glass doors, windows or shower doors that are subject to impact. Safety glass prevents accidental breakage and is great for hindering burglars.

After installing safety glass, make sure all doors and windows are secure. A double-cylinder deadbolt, which requires a key from both sides, is recommended for doors with glass, as it will stop a burglar from opening your door through broken glass. All exterior doors should have a deadbolt lock. For emergency exits, however, make sure that at least one exterior door can be opened quickly without a key.

Sliding glass doors should have auxiliary patio door locks and a broomstick, wooden dowel or metal rod in the lower track. Extra locks should be used on all sliding aluminum and wood-frame windows.

Outdoor lighting, especially under eaves to illuminate walls, will expose anyone near your home. Motion detector lights are a good idea, but be sure to obtain approval from the City's Planning Division before installing your light.

Smoke detectors

Finally, all homes should be equipped with properly functioning smoke detectors on each floor, in hallways between living and sleeping areas. Most new models detect combustion, alerting you to a fire before smoke even appears.

For more ideas on safeguarding your home, or for information on any home improvement-related topic, call the City's Building and Safety Division at (562) 916-1209.

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