Hiding your valuables


The average home burglary is a hit and run affair – burglars generally spend 8 to 12 minutes ransacking a home to find cash and valuables. Experts say that bedrooms are one of the first places checked – in bedside tables, in bureaus, and under the mattress. Bathrooms and kitchens are a high search target – often burglars are looking for drugs or money hidden in the “sugar bowl.” Also, home offices and desks are often the place where safes or valuable documents are kept.

Deadbolt locks, lights and alarms are all good deterrents. You should also take precautions before going on a trip. Plus, if you have any prized or valuable collections, make sure you tell your agent and talk over a rider to your homeowners policy to ensure they are covered should your security measures fail.

All that being said, we enjoyed some of the ideas presented in 8 Secret Spots to Hide Valuables at Home. We particularly liked the “Head of Iceberg Lettuce Safe” pictured above which is linked in the article. This is an unusual version of what are often called diversion safes – common household objects either hollowed out or with hidden compartments.

This article reminded us of some creative ways to camouflage your laptop if you worry about theft at the airport or the coffee shop.

Laptop Pizza Box disguise

How to make a laptop sleeve from a FedEx envelope

Make your Macbook a classic

Stand by your pan: Thanksgiving is the leading day for fires from cooking

When most people think of Thanksgiving, they think of a nice day languishing over the dinner table with family and friends … or perhaps heading out to catch a local football game. Most people don’t think of it as a particularly risky day – but according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving the leading day for home cooking fires, with roughly 3 times the daily average. On Thanksgiving 2007, U.S. firefighters responded to 1,300 cooking fires.
According to NFPA, cooking equipment was involved in:

  • 40% of all reported home fires
  • 17% of home fire deaths
  • 6% of home civilian injuries
  • 12% of the direct property damage resulting from home fires

More facts about home cooking fires:

  • Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in these fires. Something that could catch fire was too close to the equipment ranked second and unintentionally turned on or not turned off ranked third.
  • Ranges accounted for the largest share (59%) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
  • Households that use electric ranges have a higher risk of fires and associated losses than those using gas ranges.
  • In a 1999 study of range fires by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 83% of frying fires began in the first 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Three-fifths of the reported home cooking fire injuries occurred when victims tried to fight the fire themselves. If you have a fire

See more facts about kitchen fires from NFPA
We’ve compiled some best practices when it comes to kitchen safety and fire prevention:

  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food or have food on the stove top. If you are called away, turn off the burner.
  • Never cook while sleepy, intoxicated, or heavily medicated
  • Keep children and pets out of the kitchen
  • Avoid loose clothing while cooking. Roll up sleeves, tie back hair
  • Ensure that cooking utensils and cooking surfaces are clean and grease-free
  • Turn pan handles on the stove top inward
  • Be careful of steam when opening oven doors, uncovering pots, or taking food from the microwave
  • Keep towels, potholders and other combustible materials off and away from the stove
  • Check appliance cords for fraying or for loose plugs
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits with appliances
  • Have non-slip floor mats in front of the stove and the sink
  • Keep spray cans away from the stove
  • Have Class ABC fire extinguishers available and learn how to use them
  • Have first aid kits handy in case of burns
  • If you have a fire in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug it
  • Never put water on a grease fire. Try covering it with a lid or extinguishing it with baking powder.

More tips on cooking safely and what to do if you have a kitchen fire from NFPA.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

September 26: National “Safety Saturday”

October is National Fire Safety Month. To kick things off, the Home Safety Council (HSC) is teaming up with Lowe’s to hold Safety Saturday on Saturday, September 26, 2009, a day-long safety celebration.
Lowe’s stores nationwide are planning family safety activities geared to educating you and your family on how to keep safe from fire and other home dangers. Some stores are partnering with local fire departments to host a side-by-side burn demonstration to show how quickly a home fire spreads and becomes deadly when it isn’t controlled. The demonstration compares the limited damage in a room that is protected with a home fire sprinkler system with the extensive damage that occurs in a room without a sprinkler.
Even if you can’t attend one of these events, the idea of dedicating a Saturday to making your home safer is a pretty good one. According to the HSC, the home is the second most common location of unintentional fatal injuries, with moving motor being the first. About 20% of all fatal injuries occur in the home. The top five leading causes of unintentional home injury death are falls, poisoning, fire/burn, choking/suffocation, and drowning; together these account for 90% of all unintentional home injury deaths. And for every one death, there are approximately 650 nonfatal injuries. HSC says that children under age 5 and adults over age 70 are the highest risk groups for home injury, both fatal and nonfatal.
HSC offers excellent Step-by-step Safety Guides on a variety of topics to help you safety-proof your home. They also offer a library of Safety videos for kids and adults.