California SB 969

California has recently had its most destructive fire season with widespread power outages that made it difficult and or impossible for some to escape. With the loss of electricity, garage door openers were impacted and deaths were attributed to homeowners becoming trapped and who perished because they could not open their garage doors manually.

Reports from the 2017 Northern California fires recounted stories of neighbors stopping to help raise garage doors for elderly people who didn’t have the strength to manually open their garage door, and a mother who struggled to get her disabled son into a car because their custom van was in the garage they couldn’t open.

On September 1, 2018 Governor Brown signed SB 969 into law. This legislation requires newly sold or installed garage door openers in residential applications to have battery backup up in the state of California.

California SB 969 Facts!

• The law goes into effect July 1, 2019.

• The law applies to all new garage doors and garage door opener installations.

• Homeowners must install a battery backup opener when a new door is installed or when they replace their existing opener.

• Existing openers in use will not have to be replaced with battery backup openers unless the door is being replaced.

• On or after July 1, 2019 no person, corporation, or entity shall manufacture for sale in this state, sell, offer for sale at retail or wholesale, or install in the state of California a residential automatic garage door opener that does not a have battery backup function that is designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage.

• Failure to follow this will result in a civil penalty of $1000 per opener installed and operational.

Here is what was signed into law:

This bill, beginning July 1, 2019, requires an automatic garage door opener that is manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, or installed in a residence to have a battery backup function that is designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage. This bill would make a violation of those provisions subject to a civil penalty of $1,000. This bill will, on and after July 1, 2019, prohibit a replacement residential garage door from being installed in a manner that connects the door to an existing garage door opener that does not meet the requirements of these provisions.

Future Impact:

Homeowners will have to test the functionality of the garage door opener batteries – Homeowners will have to remove and replace garage door opener batteries (including proper disposal) – Listing and Selling Real Estate agents will have additional request for repair items – Other issues yet to be determined

How to Protect Your Home

When it comes to home maintenance, everyone thinks of weatherproofing, but does anyone think of thief proofing? Last year, there were 8,632,512 property crimes, costing an estimated $16.6 billion, which includes burglary.

Here are a few home security basics to help you protect your home.

Check Locks and Latches – Add checking locks and latches on windows and doors to your regular maintenance routine. All it takes for a thief to gain entry is a single broken latch.

Cut Back Trees and Hedges – Maintain sight lines to the street by removing trees and hedges that obscure key entry points into the house. The lack of a suitable place to hide is sometimes enough to deter would-be criminals.

Alarm System – Consider an adding alarm system. Modern systems offer features like remote access, security cameras and 24-hour monitoring. Here’s what you need to know before buying an alarm system.

Security Lights – Install security lights anywhere a potential thief might look to gain entry to your home, including back doors, attached or detached garages, covered porches and any other outbuildings.

Beware of Bragging – Avoid broadcasting big-ticket purchases via social media – this could be an invitation for trouble. It’s also a good idea to shred any receipts or credit card statements that may alert thieves to your recent purchase (this also helps prevent identity theft).

Keep Control of Keys – Get in the habit of gathering keys from contractors or household helpers after they are done. Be careful about using a smart key system that allows you to rekey locks yourself – some are easily picked.

The purpose of this Attached garage Fire hazards article is twofold. First, at Signature Home Inspection, we’d like you to Garage Firetake measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, it is a good idea to hire an InterNACHI inspector to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire.

Why do many garages pose a fire hazard?

  • Where are you most likely to do any welding, or any work on your car? These activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials.
  • Water heaters and boilers are usually stored in garages, and they can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions.
  • Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite, given the proper conditions.
  • Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, motor oil and paint are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid.

The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread:

  • If the garage allows access to the attic, make sure a hatch covers this access.
  • The walls and ceiling should be fire-rated. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for untrained homeowners to tell if their walls are Type X fire-rated gypsum. An InterNACHI inspector can examine the walls and ceiling to make sure they are adequate fire barriers.
  • The floor should be clear of clutter. Loose papers, matches, oily rags, and other potentially  flammable items are extremely dangerous if they are strewn about the garage floor.
  • Use light bulbs with the proper wattage, and do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Tape down all cords and wires so they are not twisted or accidentally yanked.

If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:

  • Do not install a pet door in the door! Flames can more easily spread into the living area through a pet door, especially if it’s made of plastic.
  • Does the door have a window? An InterNACHI inspector can inspect the window to tell if it’s fire-rated.
  • The door should be self-closing. While it may be inconvenient, especially while carrying groceries into the house from the car, doors should be self-closing. You never know when a fire will happen, and it would be unfortunate to accidentally leave the door open while a fire is starting in the garage.
  • Check the joints and open spaces around the door. Are they tightly sealed? Any openings at all can allow dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide or gasoline vapor, to enter the living area. An InterNACHI inspector can recommend ways to seal the door so that fumes cannot enter the living area.

Concerning items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:

  • Store your flammable liquids in clearly labeled, self-closing containers, and only in small amounts. Keep them away from heaters, appliances, pilot lights and other sources of heat or flame.
  • Never store propane tanks indoors. If they catch fire, they can explode. Propane tanks are sturdy enough to be stored outdoors.
In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house, or to keep them from starting in the first place. However, it is highly recommended that you have your garage periodically examined by an InterNACHI inspector.
Information provided by NACHI.org

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.

With barbecue season already here, homeowners should heed the following barbecue safety precautions in order to keep their families and property safe.
  • Propane grills present an enormous fire hazard, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is aware of more than 500 fires that result annually from their misuse or malfunction. The following precautions are recommended specifically when using propane grills:
    • Store propane tanks outdoors and never near the grill or any other heat source. In addition, never store or transport them in your car’s trunk.
    • Make sure to completely turn off the gas after you have finished, or when you are changing the tank. Even a small gas leak can cause a deadly explosion.
    • Check for damage to a tank before refilling it, and only buy propane from reputable suppliers.
    • Never use a propane barbecue grill on a terrace, balcony or roof, as this is dangerous and illegal.
    • No more than two 20-pound propane tanks are allowed on the property of a one- or two-family home.
    • To inspect for a leak, spray a soapy solution over the connections and watch for bubbles. If you see evidence of a leak, reconnect the components and try again. If bubbles persist, replace the leaking parts before using the grill.
    • Make sure connections are secure before turning on the gas, especially if the grill hasn’t been used in months. The most dangerous time to use a propane grill is at the beginning of the barbeque season.
    • Ignite a propane grill with the lid open, not closed. Propane can accumulate beneath a closed lid and explode.
    • When finished, turn off the gas first, and then the controls. This way, residual gas in the pipe will be used up.
  • Charcoal grills pose a serious poisoning threat due to the venting of carbon monoxide (CO). The CPSC estimates that 20 people die annually from accidentally ingesting CO from charcoal grills.  These grills can also be a potential fire hazard. Follow these precautions when using charcoal grills:
    • Never use a charcoal grill indoors, even if the area is ventilated. CO is colorless and odorless, and you will not know you are in danger until it is too late.
    • Use only barbeque starter fluid to start the grill, and don’t add the fluid to an open flame. It is possible for the flame to follow the fluid’s path back to the container as you’re holding it.
    • Let the fluid soak into the coals for a minute before igniting them to allow explosive vapors to dissipate.
    • Charcoal grills are permitted on terraces and balconies only if there is at least 10 feet of clearance from the building, and a water source immediately nearby, such as a hose (or 4 gallons of water).
    • Be careful not to spill any fluid on yourself, and stand back when igniting the grill. Keep the charcoal lighter fluid container at a safe distance from the grill.
    • When cleaning the grill, dispose of the ashes in a metal container with a tight lid, and add water. Do not remove the ashes until they have fully cooled.
    • Fill the base of the grill with charcoal to a depth of no more than 2 inches.
  • Electric grills are probably safer than propane and charcoal grills, but safety precautions need to be used with them as well. Follow these tips when using electric grills:
    • Do not use lighter fluid or any other combustible materials.
    • When using an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the amperage required by the grill. The cord should be unplugged when not in use, and out of a busy foot path to prevent tripping.
    • As always, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Safety Recommendations for General Grill Use
  • Always make sure that the grill is used in a safe place, where kids and pets won’t touch or bump into it. Keep in mind that the grill will still be hot after you finish cooking, and anyone coming into contact with it could be burned.
  • If you use a grill lighter, make sure you don’t leave it lying around where children can reach it. They will quickly learn how to use it.
  • Never leave the grill unattended, as this is generally when accidents happen.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.
  • Ensure that the grill is completely cooled before moving it or placing it back in storage.
  • Ensure that the grill is only used on a flat surface that cannot burn, and well away from any shed, trees or shrubs.
  • Clean out the grease and other debris in the grill periodically. Be sure to look for rust or other signs of deterioration.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing that might catch fire while you’re cooking.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tools and flame-resistant oven mitts.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill; they are flammable!
In summary, homeowners should exercise caution when using any kind of grill, as they can harm life and property in numerous ways.

From Barbeque Safety – Int’l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) http://www.nachi.org/barbeque-safety.htm#ixzz36eQdRW00

A firestop is a passive fire-protection method designed to diminish the opportunity for fire to spread through unprotected openings in a rated firewall. Such openings are found around the perimeter of pipes and wiring that penetrate firewalls.
Places where firestops are required:
Firestops must seal all unprotected openings in firewalls. In homes, firewalls are found in the following locations:
  • between the garage and the living space, including the overhead ceiling;
  • between the attic and the living space. Inspectors should be on the lookout for fireplace and wood stove flues that lack adequate fire-rated sheetrock or metal flashing firestopping, as in the photograph at right;
  • firewalls that separate condominium units are often penetrated by utilities that serve multiple units. These utilities are sometimes contained inside chases that should be sealed where they pass through the firewall between units. Firewalls between units must be continuous, all the way to the roof. Inspectors should check in attics of multi-family dwellings to make sure that the firewall has not been violated in the attic space.

schedule

Common Problems With Firestops
InterNACHI inspectors should call out any instances where firestops are missing, damaged, or otherwise inadequate. Brief explanations of firestop deficiencies commonly encountered by inspectors are listed below:
  • missing firestop:  Unsealed pipe penetrations will greatly reduce the ability for a firewall to contain a fire. This situation is more common in old buildings than in new buildings, due to changes in building code.
  • cable or pipe replacement:  Electricians and plumbers may partially remove a firestop in order to install new cables and plumbing. A firewall’s fire-resistance rating will be compromised if the opening created by this removal is not filled.
  • improper installation:  Firestops will be effective only if they are installed correctly. For instance, firestop mortars are sometimes smeared into place unevenly and lack the required thickness at certain points. Also, firestops that are installed only on one side of a penetration may not be sufficient to prevent the spread of fire through the opening.
Common Firestop Materials
  • firestop mortar:  Cements made from lightweight aggregates, such as vermiculite or perlite, can be used as firestopping. They are typically colored to distinguish them from other types of cement that lack firestopping characteristics. For example, firestopping mortar made by Nelson is colored red, and 3M Fire Barrier Mortar is colored bluish-gray.
  • intumescent:  Any substance that expands as a result of heat exposure is considered an intumescent. Intumscents used as firestops can be made from a variety of flame-retardant materials, such as graphite, hydrates, and sodium silicates. They are especially useful firestopping materials for electrical cables, which can completely melt or burn away in a fire. The expanding intumescent will partially or completely cover the exposed opening created by a melted wire.
  • firestop pillows:  These items contain various flame-retardant and intumescent substances, such as rockwool or graphite. They are filled loosely inside of a fiberglass fabric case that resembles a small pillow. Firestop pillows can be inserted into openings in firewalls and used in conjunction with other firestopping materials.
  • sheet metal
  • fire-rated sheetrock
In summary, firestops are designed to prevent the spread of fire through unprotected openings in rated firewalls. Inspectors should understand what they are and what purpose they serve.

From Firestops – Int’l Association of Certified Home Inspectors 

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. Signature Home Inspection of Orange County recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.
Holiday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an Signature Home inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Westminster Home Inspector

InterNACHI Certified

Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.
Trees
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets 
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
Security
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.

Information provided by Nachi.org

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.

www.signaturemore.com                                               888-860-2688

Attic pull-down ladders, also called attic pull-down stairways, are collapsible ladders that are permanently attached to the attic floor. Occupants can use these ladders to access their attics without being required to carry a portable ladder.
 

attic-pull-down-ladder

Attic Pull-Down Ladder

Common Defects

Homeowners, not professional carpenters, usually install attic pull-down ladders. Evidence of this distinction can be observed in consistently shoddy and dangerous work that rarely meets safety standards. Some of the more common defective conditions observed by inspectors include:

  • cut bottom cord of structural truss. Often, homeowners will cut through a structural member in the field while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified in the field without an engineer’s approval;
  • fastened with improper nails or screws. Homeowners often use drywall or deck screws rather than the standard 16d penny nails or ¼” x 3” lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and they may not support pull-down ladders;
  • fastened with an insufficient number of nails or screws. Manufacturers provide a certain number of nails with instructions that they all be used, and they probably do this for a good reason. Inspectors should be wary of “place nail here” notices that are nowhere near any nails;
  • lack of insulation. Hatches in many houses (especially older ones) are not likely to be weather-stripped and/or insulated. An uninsulated attic hatch allows air from the attic to flow freely into the home, which may cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings;
  • loose mounting bolts. This condition is more often caused by age rather than installation, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too short. Stairs should reach the floor;
  • attic pull-down ladders are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage;
  • improper or missing fasteners;
  • compromised fire barrier when installed in the garage;
  • attic ladder frame is not properly secured to the ceiling opening;
  • closed ladder is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work. Inspectors can place a sheet on the floor beneath the ladder to catch whatever debris may fall onto the floor; and
  • cracked steps. This defect is a problem with wooden ladders.
  • In sliding pull-down ladders, there is a potential for the ladder to slide down quickly without notice. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.

Relevant Codes

The 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) and the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) offer guidelines regarding attic access, although not specifically pull-down ladders. Still, the information might be of some interest to inspectors.

2009 IBC (Commercial Construction):

1209.2 Attic Spaces. An opening not less than 20 inches by 30 inches (559 mm by 762 mm) shall be provided to any attic area having a clear height of over 30 inches (762 mm). A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum clear headroom in the attic space shall be provided at or above the access opening.

2006 IRC (Residential Construction):

R807.1 Attic Access. Buildings with combustible ceiling or roof construction shall have an attic access opening to attic areas that exceed 30 square feet (2.8m squared) and have a vertical height of 30 inches (762 mm) or more. The rough-framed opening shall not be less than 22 inches by 30 inches, and shall be located in a hallway or readily accessible location. A 30-inch (762 mm) minimum unobstructed headroom in the attic space shall be provided at some point above the access opening.

Tips that Realtors can pass on to their clients:

  • Do not allow children to enter the attic through an attic access. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While properly installed stairways may safely support an adult man, they might fail if he is carrying, for instance, a bag full of bowling balls. Such trips can be split up to reduce the weight load.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. Newer aluminum models are often lightweight, sturdy and easy to install.

In summary, attic pull-down ladders are prone to a number of defects, most of which are due to improper installation.

Article information by Nachi.org

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.

www.signaturemore.com                                               888-860-2688

Child-Proofing Your Home: 12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children – About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully.

In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof;

Child Proof Your Home

Courtesy of the National Security Alliance – Kid Safe division.

determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues.

InterNACHI inspectors, too, should know what to tell clients who are concerned about the safety of their children. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.
1.  Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.
Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.
But, according to Colleen Driscoll, executive director of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), “Installing an ineffective latch on a cabinet is not an answer for helping parents with safety.  It is important to understand parental habits and behavior.  While a latch that loops around cabinet knob covers is not expensive and easy to install, most parents do not consistently re-latch it.”
Parents should be sure to purchase and install safety products that they will actually adapt to and use.
2.  Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw into the wall are more secure than “pressure gates.”
New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
3.  Use door locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers, including swimming pools.
To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks on safety gates should be placed high, out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and alarms. Sliding glass doors with locks that must be re-secured after each use are often not an effective barrier to pool access.
Door knob covers, while inexpensive and recommended by some, are generally not effective for children who are tall enough to reach the doorknob; a child’s ingenuity and persistence can usually trump the cover’s effectiveness.
4.  Use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads, and set your water heater temperature to 120° F to help prevent burns from hot water. A plumber may need to install these.
5.  Use smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries. Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year, or consider using 10-year batteries.
6.  Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls.  Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than 4 inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
7.  Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls, and to soften falls against sharp and rough edges.
Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture and hearth edges.
8.  Use receptacle or outlet covers and plates to help prevent children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.
Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
9.  Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.
10.  Cut window blind cords to help prevent children from strangling in blind-cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on miniblinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.
However, the IAFCS’s Ms. Driscoll states, “Cordless is best.  Although not all families are able to replace all products, it is important that parents understand that any corded blind or window treatment can still be a hazard.  Unfortunately, children are still becoming entrapped in dangerous blind cords despite advances in safety in recent years.”
For older miniblinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new miniblinds, vertical blinds and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.
11.  Use door stops and door holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.
Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.
12.  Use a cell or cordless phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas. Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.
In summary, there are a number of different safety devices that can be purchased to ensure the safety of children in the home. Homeowners can ask an InterNACHI inspector about these and other safety measures during their next inspection.  Parents should be sure to do their own consumer research to find the most effective safety devices for their home that are age-appropriate for their children’s protection, as well as affordable and compatible with their household habits and lifestyles.  They can find more information for household safety tips and product recommendations at the IAFCS’s website at www.iafcs.org.
Article information by Nachi.org

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.

www.signaturemore.com                                               888-860-2688

Smoke Detectors and Smoke Detector Location – A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Industry experts at the NFPA have determined that in

Smoke Detector

Smoke Detector

a typical home fire, you only have three minutes to escape.   There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. Dual sensor smoke alarms are combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit.

Ionization smoke detection is generally more responsive to flaming fires.  Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. Sources of these fires may include flammable liquids or paper burning in a waste container. Most smoke alarms in use are of this type.

A photoelectric type smoke alarm consists of a light emitting diode and a light sensitive sensor in the sensing chamber. The presence of suspended products of combustion in the chamber scatters the light beam. This scattered light is detected and sets off the alarm. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.

Placement of smoke detectors is also very important.  Home inspectors should be aware that according to the IRC 2009 smoke detectors should be installed in each sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate  vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the dwelling , including basements and habitable attics but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.   In new construction, minimum requirements are typically more stringent. All smoke detectors must be hooked directly to the electrical wiring, be interconnected and have a battery backup.

If the smoke alarm is battery powered, it will run on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium battery.  These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries).

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.

www.signaturemore.com                                               888-860-2688

Southern California Gas Company has been promoting their 811 phone service. Property owners can now dial “811″ to check the location of gas pipelines prior to construction.Know before you dig 811

From the Gas Co. Website: “Pipelines may be located anywhere, including under streets, sidewalks and private property, sometimes just inches below the surface. Excavation, planting, demolition and other forms of digging are a major cause of pipeline damage. That’s why it is important to know where they are before you begin any type of digging.

Whether you’re planning to build a major development or just landscaping your yard, protect your safety and the safety of those around you by calling Underground Service Alert at 811, at least two business days prior to excavating. You may call Underground Service Alert between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).

Underground Service Alert will coordinate with Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and other utility owners in the area to mark the locations of buried utility-owned lines. This is a FREE service and it can help prevent injury, costly property damage and loss of utility service.”

What to Do

  • MARK OUT out your proposed excavation area in white paint or provide other suitable markings.
  • CALL Underground Service Alert at 811 from 6a.m. to 7p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) at least two business days before digging.
  • WAIT until SoCalGas either marks its gas pipelines and indicates pipe material and diameter – or advises you the area is clear of its pipes before you start digging.
  • REMEMBER that SoCalGas uses only yellow paint, flags or stakes to mark out the location of its gas pipes. Other utility owners use other colors to mark their telephone, communications, water or other underground lines.
  • USE ONLY HAND TOOLS within 24 inches of each marked utility line to carefully expose the exact locations of all lines before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • REPORT any pipe damage by calling us immediately at 1-800-427-2200No damage is too small to report. Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline, its coating, or any component attached to or running along side the pipe, such as a wire, may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future.