Archive for the ‘Home and Family’ Category

Christmas in Spruce Grove’s Central Park

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Christmas in Spruce Grove's Central Park | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Central Park and Lions Log Cabin on King Street. Photo from City of Spruce Grove website: http://www.sprucegrove.org/programs_events/events/annual_events/christmas.htm

Those of us who live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County know that the tri-municipal region has much to offer residents no matter the season.  One of my favorite things in December as the darkness closes in and the days get shorter is to drive past the magical light show that is Central Park.

Christmas in Central Park is an annual FREE event sponsored by the City of Spruce Grove.  Lots of activities for the whole family help kick off the festive season and get Spruce Grove residents into the holiday spirit.  This year, the celebration runs from 2:30 to 5:30 pm on Saturday, November 30, 2013.  Take a stroll through the lights, strap on the blades, enjoy a hot beverage and experience the beauty of the park.

2:30 to 4:30 pm:

  • Photos with Santa (bring a camera)

2:30 to 4:45 pm: 

  • Skating with the Spruce Grove Saints
  • Cookie decorating for the first 500 guests
  • Crafts and games
  • Sugar Shack (Cabane à sucre)
  • Complimentary hot dogs and brats from Johnsonville (while supplies last)

2:45 to 4:45 pm:

  • Wagon rides

4:30 pm:

  • Stage entertainment with Jeff Miller on guitar

5:00 pm:

  • Light up ceremony begins, followed by a mini fireworks show

Spread the Christmas cheer by bringing an unwrapped gift item for the Kinettes Christmas Hampers and/or a non-perishable food item for the Parkland Food Bank.

Want to get more involved?  Volunteers are always welcomed to assist in the City’s events.  Contact the Event Coordinator at 780-962-7634, Ext 143, or send an email to events@sprucegrove.org.

I’d love to tell you more about what makes our region so special and a great place to call home!  Phone or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Your Pet-Friendly Home

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Your Pet-Friendly Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIs there a dog or cat living in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home?  According to a 2008 Ipsos-Reid survey as reported in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, roughly 56% of Canadian households have a dog or a cat as a pet.

Animals make their presence known in your home, and not in a good way, through scratches on walls, floors and furniture, stains on carpets, dander and allergens in the air, and various unsavory odors.  But there are ways to keep your house in good shape and all residents happy with a few smart and relatively inexpensive adjustments.  The most important advice is to choose the right materials and work with your animal’s natural instincts and needs.

Keep it clean!  Home and pet, that is.

  • First, vacuum often.  It’s a basic fact of life that dogs and cats shed.  Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner, preferably with HEPA filter, and plan on going over carpets and upholstery about twice a week or more.
  • Reduce the amount of clutter in your rooms.  Each object you remove from a room means one less object that gets covered in dust, dander and pet hair.
  • An item that is well worth the cost is a HEPA furnace filter which removes huge quantities of dust, dander and allergens from the air.
  • Use enzyme cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odour Remover when dealing with pet messes.
  • You might also want to purchase some special furniture covers designed with pets in mind.  (See these Pet Protector Covers available from Sears Canada).  Easier to wash these than to shampoo the furniture.
  • Keep your pet clean and well-groomed.  This means regular brushing, nail-clipping, bathing and the like.  If you can remove some of the hair and the oil and dirt it holds before it ends up on your floors and furniture, your house will be cleaner.  Trimmed nails are less likely to scratch floors or snag upholstery. 

It’s the nature of the beast!  Work with your pets’ natural inclinations to mold their behavior to what’s acceptable.  Your dog, for example, wants to please you so will tell you when he wants out and will also adapt readily to his own bed or crate.  Supply a clean litter box and a scratching post for your cat and watch her take to them.  If you find your animal jumping on the couch to look out the window, consider moving that couch away from the window and possibly installing a platform that bolts to the window sill to accommodate your pet’s preference.

Choose the right fabrics.  If you have pets, you already know to stay away from silk and velvet.  If you’re shopping for new furniture, consider something like Crypton or UltraSuede, which are wonderfully stain-resistant and durable.  Leather will scratch, but it is easy to clean and long-lasting.  Forget the dry-clean-only bedding and opt for washable everything because you know your pet will end up on your bed at some point.

Get rid of fabric altogether, where you can.  Replace draperies with wood blinds, for example.

Choose the right flooring.  Carpet and pets are a bad combination.  Carpet soaks up “accidents”, absorbs odors, and traps hair and dander – yuck!  If possible, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting in your home with any of the variety of hard-surface flooring on the market today, and bonus! these choices are very fashionable at the moment.  The best option for a pet-proof home is ceramic tile because it’s pretty much impervious to anything your pet can do!  Other easy to clean and durable alternatives include painted concrete, brick, high-end linoleum, or hardwood (but be aware that big dogs can scratch wood).

Neutrals work best.  Dramatic color schemes will show dirt, hair, and wear and tear more than colors such as gray, taupe and cream.  Luckily, neutrals are in style now for everything from paint on the walls to furniture, carpets and counter tops.  If you’re planning to re-paint, remember to choose a washable satin finish, and look for low or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints.  Both you and your pet will benefit from not breathing toxic fumes.

Consider some of these specialty products and home renovations:

  • Disguised litter box, partially covered and resembling furniture.  Keep the odor down by placing in a well-ventilated area if you can, and by cleaning it frequently.  The litter box might even be located in a separate room, such as a garage or utility space, with access through a secret cat door hidden inside a cabinet.
  • Built-in bench with removable cover next to an outside door:  Provides convenient seating for people to put on and remove shoes, and the inside provides storage for pet toys, balls, leashes, etc.
  • Indoor pet retreat or special mudroom could be a corner or even a whole room located by an outside back door.  Automatic feeders and drinking fountains and even doggy showers are often features of these spaces.  Some have lockable exterior access doors designed for your pet to go inside and out.  Most have specialty storage for all pet-related items such as food, chew toys, towels, etc.
  • Heated floors.  Good for animals and people!
  • Cat ramps are a series of shelves resembling stairs running up a wall to just below the ceiling where they meet a longer shelf where cats can run or recline.
  • Portable pet stairs to help small animals access furniture.
  • A doggy overlook is a square opening on the second floor allowing your dog to stick his head through to keep watch on his owners below.
  • Outdoor dog and cat runs.
  • For more ideas like these, see my Pinterest board “Pets and Your Home”.

What special things do you do in your home to accommodate your pets while keeping your home clean and stylish?  I’d love to hear from you.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Aging in Place

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

If the phrase “aging in place” is new to you, it probably won’t be for long!  I predict in the next few years, we’ll be hearing this phrase a lot.  How does it apply to those of us living in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton areas of Alberta?   

Aging in place means stayinAging in Place | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynamg in our homes as we get older, and adapting the home to meet our needs as we age.  For most of us, aging will bring about certain predictable physical changes, such as diminished eyesight and hearing or decreased mobility.  Some people will elect to move to accommodate these changes, whether to a one-level apartment-style condo or to some kind of retirement lodging.  But most of us want to stay in the familiar surroundings of our well-loved homes as long as we possibly can.  And that may mean renovating our homes to make them as functional as possible.  Other terms often used for homes that have been modified to accommodate special needs are “universal design” and “barrier-free  homes”. 

Many of the features of a typical modern home (such as an open floor plan, especially one where the main living areas – kitchen, living room, master suite, laundry room – are on the main floor) work well with the concept of aging in place.  Other features, such as hardwood flooring instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, and venetian blinds instead of draperies, are less successful.  Those hard surfaces often don’t help a home’s acoustics, and a hard and slippery floor can be treacherous for people who are unsteady on their feet. 

When we think about accommodations for seniors, things such as grab bars in the bathroom, walk-in bathtubs, stair lifts or even elevators may come to mind.  But there are many other simpler and cheaper changes that can have a huge effect on our comfort and safety.    

Eyesight and Lighting.  Adding more lamps and upping the wattage of light bulbs throughout one’s home can make a big difference in improving visual perception.  The most important areas needing better lighting are hallways and stairs.  Consider also changing the contrast between light and dark areas in a room in order to make things easier to see.  A monochromatic bathroom may be artistically beautiful, but if there isn’t a clear demarcation between the white tub and the light-colored floor, someone might have trouble judging where one ends and the other begins, resulting in a nasty fall.   

Furniture.  Consider replacing hard-edged glass coffee tables with dual-purpose softer-edged ottomans.  Consider also replacing squishy upholstered pieces with those that provide more support, making them easier to get into and out of.  Rearrange furniture so that there is plenty of room to maneuver around individual pieces (especially if wheelchairs and walkers will be used), but also place furniture in such a way that people will be sitting closer together and/or directly facing each other to aid hearing. 

FlooringCarpet is easy to walk on and safer if falling may be an issue.  But carpet may not be the best choice if walkers or wheelchairs will be used.  The best multi-purpose flooring may be non-slip tile throughout the home.  If tripping isn’t a concern, area rugs can add soft support as well as visual interest and contrast between dark and light.  Just be sure that the edges are well taped down. 

Monitoring and Assistance.  If you live alone, you probably have a support network of people to call in an emergency and you no doubt have a telephone or cell phone in easy reach at all times.  You may have an arrangement with family, friends or neighbors to check on you each day.  Perhaps you’ve considered a service such as Lifeline that connects you to 24-hour emergency monitoring via a bracelet or necklace style communicator.  While none of these things relate directly to home modifications, all of them contribute to keeping you in your home. 

The website SeniorResource.com contains a wealth of information about aging in place.  Particularly helpful is a Home Assessment chart that matches home modifications with a specific physical infirmity.  Most of the suggestions below are from that chart: 

Limited vision:

  • Edge of counters a different color than the top
  • Edge of each step is a color that stands out
  • Contrast colors between floor and walls
  • Stairs are well-lit
  • Increased wattage of light bulbs
  • Lights in all closets
  • Outside walkways and entrances are all well-lit
  • Stove controls clearly marked and easy to see
  • Stove has big numbers that can be seen from across the room
  • Stove uses different colors to tell which parts are hot
  • Under-cabinet lighting over kitchen counter

Hearing impairment:

  • Increased volume on phones
  • Smoke detectors have strobe lights
  • Furniture arranged to facilitate hearing
  • Soft surfaces to improve acoustics
  • Ultra-quiet dishwasher to reduce background noise

Balance and coordination problems:

  • Bath seat in tub or shower, or walk-in shower with pull-down seat
  • Bath tub with transfer bench
  • Temperature controlled shower and tub fixtures
  • Rounded counter edges
  • Grab bars near bath and toilet
  • Handrails extend beyond top and bottom of stairs
  • Stairway handrails on both sides
  • No stairs to bedroom or bathroom
  • Phone in bathroom

Limited reach:

  • Hand-held shower in bathroom
  • Electrical outlets are 27” above floor
  • Light switches at 42” instead of 48”
  • Cabinet shelves no more than 10” deep
  • Closet organizer or Lazy Susan to reach belongings
  • Closet rods pull down to comfortable level
  • Kitchen and closets have pull-down or pull-out shelving
  • Upper kitchen cabinets 48” from floor
  • Cook top has easy-to-reach controls at front
  • Microwave oven no higher than 48” above floor
  • Oven doors swing to the side
  • Side-by-side refrigerator
  • Lowered kitchen counter tops
  • Sink controls on the side
  • Front-loading washer and dryer

Poor hand and arm strength:

  • Automatic garage door opener
  • Easy to open and lock doors and screens
  • Cabinets and drawers have D-shape handles
  • Doors have lever handles
  • Counter tops smooth so heavy pans can slide across them
  • Heat resistant counter near microwave oven
  • Push button controls on appliances
  • Garbage disposal or trash compactor to reduce trash
  • Rocker light switches
  • Sinks with lever faucet handles
  • Special hardware to make drawers slide easily
  • Spray hose to fill pots on the stove
  • Dishwasher 8” from floor

Trouble bending:

  • Elevated toilet or toilet seat
  • Lower kitchen cabinets 6” above floor
  • Sink no more than 6” deep
  • Carpet is low pile and firm pad
  • Clutter and electric cords are out of pathways
  • Counter top that can be used while sitting
  • Doors are wide enough for a walker to get through

Trouble walking and climbing stairs:

  • Driveway smooth but not slippery
  • Floors are smooth and slip-resistant
  • Knee space under sinks; can sit while washing
  • Knee space under stove; can sit while cooking
  • No area rugs
  • Ramp to front door with handrails on both sides
  • Stairs have slip-resistant surface
  • Thresholds on entry doors no higher than ¼ inch.

Uses wheelchair:

  • Peep hole at low  height
  • Lower window sills especially for windows on the street
  • Hallways, doorways and closets wide enough for wheelchair.  Doorways 36″ wide with off-set hinges on doors
  • Appliances have controls at the front
  • Can use counters, sinks, stove top while sitting
  • Can wheel from car to front door and then inside; no steps
  • Ramp to front door with landings at top and bottom
  • Can wheel to bedroom, bathroom, kitchen
  • Pathways clutter-free
  • Enough floor space near doors to move wheelchair
  • Roll-in shower with multiple showerheads and/or way to transfer to tub
  • Space to transfer from wheelchair to toilet
  • See all above sections 

If you decide to remodel your current home, remember that you probably won’t have to make all of the modifications listed here.  Instead, focus on those of most benefit to your individual situation and make other changes as the need arises.  

Other resources:

See also this article by Mike Holmes:  “Renovate now so that you can live well later“.

Are you looking for a “universal design” home that will allow you to age in place?  I would be happy to help you find such a home!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

Pocket Offices: Family Central 2.0

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

A few weeks ago I posted a blog article called “Family Central” about carving out a family organization center somewhere in the family home to round up all the paper and paraphernalia associated with day to day family life.  Our lives in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region just keep getting busier, don’t they?  And it seems to get harder all the time to keep track of schedules and corral all the clutter. 

A great article in the February 23, 2013 edition of the Edmonton Journal entitled “Tiny, perfect pocket officesconfirms the need for such a space in a family home and contains lots of valuable information and good tips about how to create and use these small but mighty work spaces.   Check it out! 

Looking for a home with something special?  Maybe I can help.  Call or text me 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Family Central

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamFamily CentralDoes your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton-area home have a special dedicated room or home office that functions as the “business hub” of your family’s activities?  Where the kids do their homework, mom and dad pay the bills, family members update schedules, store keys, phones, laptops and other important items that need to be grabbed before leaving the house?  No?  Well, you’re not alone in wishing for a magic solution to the problem of keeping everybody organized and the house clutter-free!  With today’s busy lifestyles, it’s no wonder that many people can’t find their dining room tables and kitchen counters under the daily avalanche of school papers, mail, newspapers and magazines, electronic devices and much more.

An article in the January 26, 2013 edition of the Edmonton Journal entitled “Building the perfect family hub” addresses the questions of what is needed to create a family organization center, how to find the space, and how to make it all work in even the smallest of homes. 

According to the article, the most important items needed in the center are a calendar for keeping track of everybody’s schedules, a message board (dry erase or corkboard) for posting and sharing information, a bin or section of corkboard for each family member’s own current information needs (such as school permission slips), and a power strip and shelf for charging electronic devices.  A work surface for homework and the like is also ideal, as well as a laptop or computer for checking email, doing research, etc. 

But where to put this?  A room such as the bonus room found in many of today’s newer homes or a mudroom would be great, but not necessary according to the authors of the article.  Instead, there are numerous other options, such as converting a pantry cupboard or small closet into a desktop with storage above, seating below.  Even a single kitchen cabinet can serve when space is really tight.  For some excellent visuals, take a look at my Pinterest board “Great Little SpacesThe key is defining the purpose for the space chosen as the family hub. 

If you are lucky enough to have a room-size space available, you can furnish it lavishly with a built-in desk and storage, or more economically with items from around the house or from garage sales – whatever will fit the budget and the needs of your family.   

This leads to the final aspect of such a center, making it work.  Again, let your own family’s needs be your guide.  Bright colors and an attractive space along with a firm commitment to use this area as THE spot for family business go a long way to keeping the rest of the house tidy and organized!  Check out the article for more details and ideas. 

Looking for just the right home to meet your family’s needs?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here

Home Inventory: Do You Have One?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHome Inventory: Do You Have One?As the holiday season approaches in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, you’re probably getting your home in shape for visits from family and friends.  This may mean adding new furniture or entertainment devices, as well as cleaning and organizing your current possessions.  Do you have a record of all your possessions, old and new?   

Your home and everything in it means a lot to you.  Sure, you have insurance in case anything should happen, such as a break-in or fire or adverse weather event.  But how would you let your insurance agent know exactly what you have that may need to be replaced?  As you go about your holiday preparations, it might be a good time to consider re-doing, or creating for the first time, an inventory of everything you own connected with your home.  Good idea, you say, but where to start? 

Luckily, the technical world can come to your rescue, both for creating the inventory and for storing it.  At its heart, a home inventory is a list containing various pieces of information such as name of the item, its location in your home, brand name, purchase price, current or replacement value, when and where acquired, serial numbers and so on.   

CAA Magazine’s “The Value of Your Home:  Tips on Creating a Home Inventory List” can get you going with a step by step process.  Another article on this topic is State Farm’s “Creating a Home Inventory”.

Here are some tools that can make your job easier: 

  • Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or Google Docs Spreadsheet (see this home inventory template) can create a form on which to record the data.   
  • It’s also possible to find many pre-made home inventory templates on the internet, such as these examples:

Insurance Brokers Association of Canada Home Inventory Form 

State Farm Home Inventory Checklist 

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division Home Inventory Checklist

  • A photo or video inventory is a good complement to a written list.  Today’s cameras and even phones make it easy and relatively fast to take stock of a home’s contents.  The pros recommend not just taking a picture of an item, but also zooming in on serial numbers and important details, such as the brand of an object (turn over a piece of china to show the manufacturer, for example).  It’s also a good idea to take pictures of receipts or appraisal reports, especially for high-value items purchased new, or antiques.  Audio can provide a running commentary of what the items are and their value.  Burn the pictures to a DVD for storage outside your home or upload them to an online account.
  • Home inventory software is another option, and some very good ones are free:

Know Your Stuff Home Inventory

What You Own Home Inventory

These packages allow you to create lists, add photos, receipts and the like, and generate reports.

  • To get really futuristic check out iTrackMine, a free web-based resource billed as the “ultimate collection manager”.  By typing in (or scanning with a barcode scanner or an Android phone) the ISBN or UPC numbers of items in a collection, such as books or movies, you can automatically generate a list containing all kinds of information, including pictures.  Where it’s really useful for home inventory purposes is its ability to produce an insurance-ready report.

Why not make the doing of a household inventory a family project this holiday season?  While giving new meaning to the expression “making a list and checking it twice”, you’ll end up with a worthwhile gift for yourself and your family!

Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here. 

House Shopping = Lifestyle Shopping

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

House Shopping = Lifestyle Shopping | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYou may have seen the ad on TV about the couple who bought what looks like a nice house, only to discover it has numerous flaws, such as being shaken off its foundations every day by the passage of the 11 o’clock train!  If you’re shopping for a new home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you’re going to want to consider more than just the features of the house itself.

You probably have a long list of things you want in a home:  the number and size of bedrooms, the set-up of the kitchen, modern fixtures in multiple bathrooms, amount of storage space, parking, cosmetic features such as paint colors and flooring, and much more.  You may have considered the style of residence that would work best for you, such as a 2-storey home for a growing family or a bungalow for people with reduced mobility.  You’ve probably also given some thought to landscaping features, such as patios and decks, trees and shrubs in the yard, walkways, driveway space, fences, and so on. 

But almost as important as the house and yard is the neighborhood in which your potential new home is located.  Yes, there’s that real estate cliché again – location, location, location – showing up over and over again as a very important element in the whole home buying and selling experience. 

Because, when you shop for a home, you’re really shopping to meet the needs of your lifestyle, and that always extends beyond the walls of the building in which your family sleeps at night. 

If you have a young family, you probably are interested in a neighborhood close to a school or adjacent to a park with a playground.  If you are a senior, you might look for a neighborhood where the amenities you need or want, such as shopping, recreational activities, medical facilities, fine restaurants, are in convenient reach, perhaps even walking distance.  Maybe you spend long hours at your job or other activities, so a home within an easy commute would be good for you. 

This isn’t all.  Consider the things you want or don’t want to live near.  Some people like corner lots, for example, while other people detest them.  Many people would love to live in a home that backs onto green space or a water feature (and often, as a seller, you can command a higher price for a home like this).  Most people would prefer that their dream home not be located on a busy and noisy thoroughfare, or next to a high-crime area.  As you shop for your new home and new neighborhood, it doesn’t hurt to think about the resale value of the homes you’re looking at, and realize that the value comes from more than the building on its lot.   Remember too, that there are things you can change, such as kitchen counters and cupboards, and things you can’t, like that train I mentioned earlier!  The home, its surroundings and your lifestyle become a package deal. 

I’m always happy to respond to your comments and questions!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Go Clean Your Room!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Go Clean Your Room! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhether we live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or elsewhere, how often as parents have we said those words?   And how often have we been less than satisfied with the clean-up efforts of our offspring?

An article published in the April 3, 2012 edition of the Edmonton Journal offers a few tips that might make the next tidying up incident a little more productive.  “Teaching kids to cut clutter” suggests the way to make kids’ too small rooms a little bigger is to get rid of some of the stuff in them.  Even better would be to never have some of the stuff, such as the junk contents of many birthday party loot bags (who dreams up these things anyway?), enter the rooms in the first place.

The article profiles two moms and writers, Debby Waldman and Rita Feutl, who co-wrote a book for children entitled Room Enough for Daisy based on their personal experiences trying to corral the belongings of their own children.  “Feutl says she hopes it prompts thoughtful parents to ask their kids to think about where the material for these things comes from, where they are put together, who puts them together and what they’re paid, how they’re packaged and how they get to the village, town or city where the kids live.”  The women hope their book will make kids more aware of their stuff and to take responsibility for it, as well as realize that some things are worth keeping more than others, and that less can be more.

A few of the tips from the article for helping kids cut clutter:

  • Use the one-in-one-out rule.  When a new item comes into a kid’s room, something else must be removed.  But let your child decide.
  • Sorting items and keeping like items together in containers and on shelves may go a long way to solving the problem of a messy room.
  • If a child doesn’t appear to be using certain items, gather them up and put them away for 6 months.  If the child doesn’t ask for the items during that time, consider giving the stuff away.
  • If kids want something new, have them contribute to the purchase.
  • Be specific when you ask kids to clean their room.  Do you want them to clean, as in vacuum and dust, or do you want them to organize, as in pick up those blocks and arrange them in this box?
  • Make sorting, arranging and tidying into a time-limited game.

Read the full article for even more good ideas.

If we can teach our kids to be more aware of the difference between wants and needs, and that more and more stuff doesn’t necessarily mean a better life, maybe their generation can do a better job of decluttering the planet!

I always welcome your comments and questions.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

 

How Secure Is Your Home?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

How Secure Is Your Home? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDo you know anyone in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region who has been the victim of a burglary?  To ensure that this unpleasant experience never happens to you, take a look at our Home Security Checklist.

This list may be one of the most comprehensive you will ever find, starting outside your home with a look at your neighborhood in general, outdoor security and valuables, landscaping, exterior lighting, the garage and other outbuildings.  Focusing on your home itself, items to check here include entry doors and locks, windows, the home interior and its contents, and special circumstances, such as alarm systems, firearms, swimming pool safety, and fire safety.  The document concludes with a special checklist just for things you need to consider while on vacation.  Chances are there are a few things on the Home Security Checklist you haven’t thought of doing, and those things just might make your home more secure and less burglar-friendly!

You might also be interested in our Fire Safety Checklist.

Some related blog posts:

Looking for a new home, especially one with more security features?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Fire Safety in Your Home

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Fire Safety in Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAn article by Mike Holmes in the October 8, 2011 Edmonton Journal entitled “Simple lint can be serious fire hazard” [reprinted from an earlier article called “Lint isn’t just fluff; it’s a fire hazard”, Edmonton Journal.com, September 29, 2011] reminded me that October is Fire Safety Month in Canada.  Is your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area as fire-safe as it could be?  Use this handy checklist put together by a member of my team to find out.

Fire Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, Escape Plan

___ We have at least one smoke alarm newer than 10 years old on every floor.  (Ideally, also an alarm in or near every sleeping area, near the family room and kitchen, at the top of each stairway, in the garage, wired in with battery backup.)

___ Carbon monoxide detectors newer than 7 years old are located in the same areas as smoke alarms, with an additional one near the furnace.

___ Batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are changed twice a year.

___ We test the alarms every 3 months.

___ We have emergency flashlights with fresh batteries in every bedroom and the kitchen.

___ There are fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, basement, and near each fire source (fireplace, wood-burning stove).  These are checked or inspected on a regular basis, and someone in the home knows how to use them.  (One in each vehicle is a good idea too.)

___ We avoid accumulating clutter, especially combustible waste.  Items of this type are never stored near a heat source or near the furnace or hot water heater, and we ensure that we have clear paths to all exits.

___ As a family, we regularly practice our escape.  All family members know what to do in case of fire or other emergency.

Fire and Heat Sources

___ Our wood-burning fireplace/stove is properly ventilated and there is adequate fresh air intake.

___ Our fireplace has a screen to prevent sparks, and we dispose of ashes in metal containers.

___ Our wood-burning fireplaces/stoves and their chimneys are cleaned and inspected every year.

___ Space heaters are kept at least 3 feet from flammable/combustible items, and they are placed where they cannot be knocked over.

___ Heat sources of any kind, including the kitchen stove, are never left unattended when in use.

___ We make sure things that can burn, such as dishtowels, paper or plastic bags, curtains and loose fitting clothing, are at least 3 feet away from the range top when we are cooking.

___ Our barbecue grill is at least 3 feet away from the house and any combustibles when in use.

Flammables

___ Flammables are stored in original, marked containers away from sources of heat or flame.

___ If we must store gasoline and similar fuels at home, we do so in special safety containers, and never in the house.

___ We store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or similar secure location out of reach of children.

___ We do not allow smoking in our home.  But, if we did, there would be deep wide ashtrays available; lit cigarettes would never be left unattended; ashtrays and furniture would always be checked before we leave the house or go to bed; smoking is never done in bed.

___ Candles are used only by adults, out of reach of children and pets, placed in sturdy and stable holders made of glass or metal well away from flammable items, and never left unattended.

___ The lint trap on our clothes dryer is cleaned after every load of laundry, and dryer ductwork is cleaned and inspected every year.

Electrical

___ Kitchen appliances, such as the kettle, coffee-maker, toaster oven and microwave, are plugged into separate outlets.

___ There are no frayed or cracked cords or exposed wiring in our home.

___ There are no outlets or switches that are unusually warm to touch.

___ All outlets and switches have cover plates so that no wiring is exposed.

___ No outlet has a smudge mark indicating that an electrical short has occurred around the socket where plugs are inserted.

___ Light bulbs are the appropriate size and type for the lamp or fixture.

___ No extension cord carries more than its proper load, as indicated by the rating labeled on the cord and appliance.  Cords are never run under rugs or hooked over nails, and are not used as a permanent solution.

___ We keep “air space” around electronic items such as TVs, stereos, computers, etc.

___ We replace any electrical tool or appliance if it causes electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out, or gives off smoke or sparks.

___ We keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters, and we take special care with electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.

Your comments and questions are always welcome!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here. 

 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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