Be Safe, Lock Up Your Tulsa Home
In about the time that it takes to sing the traditional birthday song, a not-so-happy event can be occurring in your Oklahoma home or one near yours. In the United States a home is burglarized every 14 seconds. Even more alarming, 60 percent of the time the home is occupied, according to the FBI.
With statistics like that, how do you avoid becoming a victim in your own home?
Crime prevention experts say locking up is the key deterrent to protect your Tulsa Home.
"You'd be surprised how many people don't lock their front doors. It's just like, oh I'm running down to the market so they leave out the garage, so they forget about the front door," said San Diego, California Police Officer Bob Van Wulven.
Some crime statistics report that burglars are seemingly rather lazy. They're looking for the easy way into your home -- an open door or an unlocked window. The highest percentage of break-ins occur through unlocked front doors during daylight hours.
"It's a grand opportunity [for criminals] that people are leaving," said Carlsbad, California Police Crime Prevention Specialist, Jodee Sasway.
According to Crime Doctor, Chris E. McGoey, a professional security consultant, July and August are the peak months for burglaries. The low is in February.
Despite the boldness of burglars, some Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Bixby, residents still have a nonchalant attitude about protecting their home. "Don't be complacent," warns Howard Feldman, President of Pioneer Security Services, Inc. "The thought of having a break-in in the house or a fire, you know, like cancer, is so unpleasant to think about that people just don't think about it and therefore they believe by putting their heads in the sand it's not going to happen," said Feldman.
But in fact, Feldman says, "There's a 75 percent chance that their home will be broken into, at least once, over the next 20 years."
Feldman's company provides home security systems. He says they can reduce your chance of a break-in.
"We don't solve the Tulsa burglary problem; we just move it from one neighbor to the next. We displace it; that is if we put a [home alarm] sign up on house 'A' the burglar sees the sign and generally will move to house 'B' -- the unprotected house," said Feldman.
However, it's important to remember that, "A security system alerts you if there's an intruder. It's the physical security of your house that keeps [criminals] out," said Sasway.
An open window, even on a second-story floor, for instance, can attract burglars.
Other safety tips include:
· Lock everything up when you leave your home.
· Make sure your lock is a good deadbolt.
· Install a locking security screen door.
· Use blocking devices, such as a wooden dowel in the track, on sliding glass doors.
· Use an alarm system.
· Display alarm decals in highly visible locations.
· Know your neighbors, even exchange phone numbers in case of emergencies.
· While on vacation, stop newspaper circulation so papers don't pile up indicating the home is vacant.
· Use light timers for lights inside the house.
· Install motion-detection lights for exterior areas.
· Cut back your landscape so that big bushes aren't blocking windows and other entryways, making easy hiding places for criminals.
· Secure windows with through-the-frame pins.
Keeping your house safe requires educating everyone in the home about the importance of remembering to lock up. Taking preventive measures now is far better than trying to fix the emotional and physical damage that's caused by burglary.
Many Homeowners Unaware Of Electrical Hazards
After depending upon electricity for more than a century, we tend to take it for granted -- except in those rare instances when nature pulls the plug temporarily. So much so that at least 25 percent of the nation's estimated 75 million homeowners are completely unaware of potential electrical hazards around the house. That is what a survey commissioned by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America recently uncovered.
What it means is that one-quarter of our houses are vulnerable to electrical home-structure fires and other incidents that can cause significant personal and financial losses, the association believes. The survey, conducted by Media, Pa.-based International Communications Research, found that 18.2 million homeowners, or more than 24 percent, never check their homes for electrical hazards such as frayed or overheated cords, overloaded outlets and circuits, and light bulbs that are the wrong wattage.
However, the study also found that 30 percent of homeowners check for electrical hazards at least monthly while 33 percent check their homes at least once or twice a year.
At least some of us are on the ball, but not everyone in Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Bixby will be.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there is an annual average of 165,380 electrical-related home structure fires, taking an average of more than 900 lives, injuring nearly 7,000 people and causing nearly $1.7 billion in property damage. A national survey by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) found that improper electrical wiring is the second most common problem they find when doing home inspections.
Common defects include insufficient capacity, inadequate overload protection and amateur, do-it-yourselfer-type wiring or wiring connections in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and garages. "Most home owners have the best intentions, but they are not familiar with the codes and the potential safety hazards that are common in do-it-yourself electrical work," said Stephen Gladstone, president of ASHI.
If you aren't going to check for hazards regularly, at least make sure that your house has working smoke alarms. You have to change the batteries at least twice a year. You also need to replace the smoke alarms every 10 years.
The National Fire Protection Association reported that while 95 percent of homes have at least one smoke alarm, more than half of home fire deaths result from fires in the 5 percent of homes without smoke alarms. Additionally, in one-quarter of the reported fires in homes with fire alarms, the devices did not work.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends electrical inspections for any house more than 40 years old, any house more than 10 years old that has had any major renovation or major appliance added, and for any home at the time of resale by the new owner.
When asked about electrical inspections, the overwhelming majority of homeowners did not follow these recommendations. More than 91 percent of homeowners do not think their homes need electrical inspections. Of that number, nearly 90 percent live in homes that are more than 30 years old.
Additionally, more than 24 percent of homeowners completed a major renovation and added major appliances. Nearly 32 percent of these homeowners live in homes that are more than 30 years old. John Drengenberg, manager of consumer affairs for Underwriters Laboratories, says that there are signs that should alert homeowners to potential electrical problems.
Among them are:
· Anytime you are shocked in your home: A properly wired and grounded electrical system will protect you from most potential shocks.
· Overloaded outlets: Too many appliances plugged into a single outlet could indicate your house may not have the required number of outlets. The National Electrical Code requires that outlets be spaced every 12 feet of running wall space, or one on each wall of the average 10-foot-by-12-foot room. Kitchens typically require outlets spaced every four feet along the countertop.
· Flickering or dimming lights: This could indicate loose connections, overloaded circuits, improper wiring, or arcing and sparking inside the walls.
· Hot, discolored receptacles, switch plates, cords or plugs: If you can't keep your hand on these for more than five seconds, you may have an overload or product malfunction.
· TV screen or computer monitor shrinks or wavers when a large appliance is turned on: This could mean you have too many appliances plugged into one circuit, or circuit, or that your house needs additional electrical capacity.
· Unusual smells: Burning metal or plastic smells may indicate a loose connection, malfunctioning switch, light fixture, broken connection, overheating components, arcing or sparking inside the walls, damaged wire, or other potential hazards.