Spring Cleaning for Safety and Insurance SavingsTemperatures are getting warmer and now that it’s spring, it’s time for spring cleaning and making spring time repairs around the house. Taking care of our homes is important, so take a moment to understand how taking care of things around the house can impact your insurance with these spring-time tips:

1. Cleaners, stains and paints: Ventilate! Protect your home and furnishings from damage. Store and dispose safely.

Time to dust, sweep, vacuum and scrub! For many of us, this can also mean cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, where we might find ourselves using chemical-based cleaning agents. Make sure that if you’re using these chemical cleaners that you properly ventilate the room you’re in, because sometimes the fumes from these products can be quite powerful. It can be as simple as opening windows and making sure you keep interior doors open to allow air to flow throughout the house. These simple steps can help you prevent getting too dizzy, or potentially passing out if you breathe in too many fumes. It’s also critical to keep and store these products safely — keep them in a cool dry place that isn’t accessible to small children or pets, and always follow the instructions on chemical cleaning products.

You should follow similar rules for ventilation and storage when working with paint or wood stains. In addition to fumes, paint also poses separate risks to hardwood floors, carpets and furniture, so whether you’re just touching up a window frame or redoing the whole room, make sure you use drop cloths to protect floors and furniture. In fact, if you can, move all furniture and area rugs out of the room when painting, but if you cannot, make sure they’re clear of the walls and covered. The last thing you want is a paint stain on your carpets, hardwoods or your furniture.

Dispose of chemical cleaning agents properly.Never dispose of paint or chemical cleaners down your sink — if you want to get rid of extra or expired cleaning products and paint, contact your local municipality about how and where you can dispose of these items safely. Many communities will designate certain days when they will collect these items so that they can be disposed of appropriately. If you were to improperly dispose of these items you could be found liable for any property or environmental damage they may cause, including clean-up costs and fines from local, state and federal authorities, and under a standard homeowners policy you would not have coverage if you dumped the chemicals, and those costs would come out of pocket.

Here’s some information from the City of Woodstock on the proper disposal of old or extra paint: “Household paint, once dry, is no longer a hazardous waste.  Therefore it is imperative that BEFORE you dispose of your old paint cans with your regular trash, you make sure the paint is dry by mixing it with an oil dry chemical or clay based kitty litter.  Another option is to pour the paint onto stacks of newspapers or old pizza boxes and let it dry.  Then you can place the papers/boxes in your regular trash container for disposal.”

2. Check for Unwanted Guests

Unwanted guests in your homeNo, not the in-laws, but wild animals. During the winter months when temperatures drop, humans aren’t the only ones looking to get in out of the cold. If animals get into your home they have the potential to cause damage to the house, your belongings and they may leave a mess. Certain types of damage by animals may not be covered by your insurance policy, but if you discover damage that appears to be the work of an animal, notify Mountain Lakes Insurance and take appropriate steps to remove the animals, and consider hiring a professional pest control firm if you aren’t comfortable doing so yourself.

3. Inspect fire extinguishers and smoke / carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries in all detectors.

Twice a year, replace batteries in all detectors.While you’re cleaning the house, take a few moments to check fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. As you go through the house replace all of the batteries in your detectors and test to make sure they work. If you own a fire extinguisher — check its pressure. While extinguishers have a longer shelf life than most products, over time they may lose pressure and the last thing you want to have happen when facing a kitchen fire is to have the extinguisher fail to actually extinguish a fire. When purchasing a fire extinguisher for your home, see that it’s classified for A, B and C fires. These classifications refer to different types of fires — ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids/gases and electrical fires. You want to make sure that your extinguisher is capable of handling these different types of fires.

4. Sweep the yard for dangerous problems and unsightly objects.

Hey, your spring flowers look really pretty. But that fence needs some attention – loose boards and rusty nails can open your home up to liability that you would rather avoid. Trash and other debris around your home not only detracts from the appearance and property values, but studies have shown that homeowner’s risk increases when curb appeal drops. Thieves have been known to target neglected homes with the assumption that security will be equally ignored. If you’re travelling on spring break or during summer vacation, ensure that your lawn will stay mowed, newspapers and solicitations won’t accumulate, and that your home will be secure and beautiful on your return.

5. Dust off the insurance policy

Finally, spring is a great time to review the “whole picture” of your homeowners or renters insurance. Mountain Lakes Insurance agents have the ability to write insurance with multiple insurance companies, because, like the seasons, your insurance needs change. A Mountain Lakes Insurance agent can work with you to make sure your coverage fits you and your family’s needs.

Information adapted from Trusted Choice.