Before the kids get out of school and summer officially begins, there are a few things you should do in May to make your home safer for everyone in it. As spring cleaning season comes to a close, it’s time to harness all the daylight for outdoor home improvement projects like fixing the fence and preparing your pool.
These home improvement ideas, safety tips, and products make May chores a little easier.
Damaged cables and cords are an electrical hazard, especially around water. Start your own home electrical inspection by looking for damaged spots in the cables, cords, and outlets throughout your home. Replace any cables or cords that have frayed wires or damage to the outer casing.
Check Your Power Strips
Power strips live under your computer desk, in the garage, the living room, and throughout your home. Take a little time this May to make sure they aren’t overloaded, and double-check that they have a surge protection feature.
Use Extension Cords Properly
While checking power strips, replace any extension cords being used to permanently power something like an AC window unit. These cords aren’t designed to work continuously. So use this time to find a more stable, permanent solution.
Cover Unused Outlets
If you have young children who live in or visit your home, make sure you cover the outlets in every room. Curious fingers can lead to serious injuries. Plastic safety caps are an easy solution to keep those kiddos safe.
If your home sits under power lines, take a peek at the trees. Growing trees and vegetation can interfere with power lines. This isn’t a job to do alone, though. Call professional tree trimmers or your local power company to help out.
2. Test for Asbestos, Lead, and Radon
Toxins like asbestos, lead, and radon can inhabit your house without you knowing. All three of these substances can cause harmful long-term effects like lung and nerve damage after years of exposure. Run a test this month to make sure your home is safe from these toxic chemicals.
Test for Asbestos
Asbestosis a naturally occurring substance used as a fire retardant. It’s often found in materials like insulation, adhesives, concrete, and some types of vinyl in older homes.
Years of breathing in tiny asbestos fibers can result in respiratory damage, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. If your home was built between 1940 and 1970, we recommend testing for asbestos to make sure your home is safe. If the test results are positive, you can find professionals in your area to remove it.
Test for Lead
Lead was a common ingredient in paints, plumbing, and even cosmetics until the late 1970s. If you live in a home built before 1978, there may be traces of lead left in your home. Just like asbestos, you can conduct a home test for lead and call for removal services.
Lead buildup can lead to mild symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and irratibility. But serious risks include birth defects and developmental problems in children.
Test for Radon
Radon is a radioactive byproduct of decaying uranium. It can leak into homes through cracks in the foundation and basement. Some areas are more prone to danger than others, but it’s a smart choice to check your home if you live in a hot spot. Like other home kits, you can purchase a radon test yourself or find professionals in your area to test for you.
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Early symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain.1
If your home tests positive for asbestos, lead, or radon, you can find professionals in your area to give you a quote and remove the problem.
3. Touch Up Fences and Pathways
After winter snows and spring rains, your fence and pathway might not be looking their best. As the weather becomes more consistent, get outside and touch up your fence, pavement, or pathways.
Clean Your Fence
Your fence doesn’t have to be rickety to need attention. A simple spot cleaning or pressure washing may be just what it needs to look like new. Just be sure to use the right cleaning materials for your fence.2
Wooden fences: Use a scrub brush and mild detergent.
Vinyl fences: Use a cloth and baking soda mixed with water. Avoid bleach as it may stain the vinyl.
Metal fences: Use a scrub brush (like the one you use for your grill) and strong household detergent for stains.
Mend Your Fence
Start by removing obstacles like grass and vegetation around your fence to make repairs easier. Then check for holes, gaps, or weaknesses that need your attention. If you have a wooden fence, reinforce it by replacing old rails and bracing the new ones.
Replace any boards or reinforce them with extra rails to make the fence more secure. If this sounds intimidating, find a local professional to help out.
Cracks and potholes don’t happen overnight, but it’s all too easy to put off treating them. This May, take a close look at the sidewalk leading to and passing by your house. Large cracks and uneven surfaces can be a hazard to you and your neighbors who walk around the area. It takes alittle time to fix these imperfections in your walkway, but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe.
4. Prepare for Pool Season
As Memorial Day approaches, so does the official beginning of summer. Get your pool ready for a season full of sunbathing, Marco Polo, and cannon ball jumps. Check out our Summer Safety Guide to stay safe while having fun in the sun.
Check the Pool Cover
Before getting your hands wet, take a look at the state of your pool cover. Check for mold, tears, or damage that could have left your pool full of contaminants.
Fish Out Debris
Leaves, sticks, and toys can all find their way into the pool after months of not using it. Start the cleaning process by skimming the pool for large debris with a net. Getting the big stuff out of the way will make cleaning the small stuff easier.
Clean the Pool
Start by reassembling the filtration system, removing plugs, and cleaning your nets and accessories. If the water level dropped over the closed season, add more to the pool. You can test the levels of the water with DIY strips to get an idea of how much cleaning you’ll need to do. Balancing the chemicals helps keep it safe to swim in and reduces cleaning later.
Store Chemicals Properly
If you service your own pool throughout the summer, be sure to store your chemicals properly. Keep them on a shelf or in a shed nearby away from kids and pets. And be sure to always cap the products tightly when you’re done.
The National Safety Council also recommends childproofing around your pools and hot tubs. So make sure you keep the cover on your pool or fence locked when it’s not in use.
May Home Safety FAQ
How can I make my apartment safer in May?
You don’t have to have a big backyard or pool to make your home safer this May. We recommend starting by checking your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Monthly checks keep them in tip-top shape and free of false alarms (which means no pesky chirps).
You can also dispose of expired or unused medicines and sanitize for disease control by washing your hands and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs.
How do I celebrate Memorial Day safely?
Whether you’re camping or hosting a backyard barbeque, safety should always be a priority. Be sure to wear proper protective gear like life vests while boating and protective cookware while grilling or handling hot food. Wear sunscreen while you’re outside and don’t be afraid to reapply. If you go camping, wear bug spray too. And most importantly, don’t drink and drive.
Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more