Essential Home Knowledge That Could Save Your Life

Monica Gray - April 6, 2023

A good hack goes a long way. It cuts corners and takes out the fluff, saving you time and money in the long run. Hacks especially come in handy when we’re cooking, cleaning, and doing our day-to-day chores. But you might not realize that certain home hacks may just save your life. You can make small, subtle changes to your routine that will benefit you in the long run, improving your health and safety in your home. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Certain small shifts, like using more natural cleaning products, maintaining your air vents, getting enough sleep, and washing your bed sheets all contribute to a healthier lifestyle and longevity overall.


If You Smell Fish, Drop To The Ground

If you’re lounging at home, when you suddenly smell a strong fish aroma, check your appliances. Have everyone around you drop to the ground. It could be an electrical fire, and you could smell it before you see it. The smell of fish comes from the electrical components in your wires and walls that are coated with heat-resistant chemicals. When the plastic and these materials heat up, it gives off a burning odor that smells like fish. Exit your home and call 911 (RYT Electric).


Keep Your Dryer Clean

Your dryer is the leading cause of fires in residential homes, according to the NFPA. This is because people fail to remove lint, fiber, and dust from the machine, which may lead to a fire. Keeping your dryer clean is one of the most important home hacks to keeping your family and home safe. Clean the mesh using an old toothbrush and soap and water, to get any leftover lint stuck in the mesh. Also, make sure to wipe down the dryer (HGTV).


Mayo Clinic

Alone And Choking? Do This

We’ve all heard of the Heimlich maneuver. This is the technique you use if someone else is choking. But what happens if you’re the one choking, and you’re at home alone? First, call 911 and leave the phone off the hook. Then, all you have to do is throw yourself against a wall, or any other vertical surface until it dislodges the object stuck in your throat. Another technique is to give yourself the Heimlich maneuver by placing a fist above your navel, grabbing it with the other hand, and thrusting your abdomen against a chair until it dislodges the object (Mayo Clinic).


Make Sure Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Is Working

If your carbon monoxide detector isn’t working, it’s of no use in case there’s a carbon monoxide leak. Breathing in carbon monoxide is deadly, and most of the time, you won’t realize it until it’s too late. It’s important to check your detectors every single month to make sure they’re working properly. All you have to do is hold the button on the detector for several seconds. If it’s working, it will beep several times, pause, and then beep several more times. If it doesn’t beep, you must replace the detector immediately (First Alert).


This Is The SOS In Morse Code

It might seem archaic, but a little bit of extra knowledge never hurt anyone. That includes knowing the SOS in Morse Code. This code uses 3xshort, 3xlong, and 3xshort. To take it even further, the Alpine emergency signal is 1 short signal every 10 seconds for a minute. A short, one-minute pause follows this. This is used to ask for immediate help, for example, if you’re in an emergency at home. There are tools online you can use to learn other types of Morse code (Off Grid Web).


Always Carry A Rope

Carrying a rope may one day save your life. We’re not talking about a huge, ten-foot rope. A small object made from solid rope works, like a belt or key chain. This may come in handy one day and be a life-saving tool, like if someone slips and you can’t reach their hand, or you need to tie a car shut. You can usually loop the object into the shape of a lasso and it will work as a rope. A rope can also be used in an emergency at home, like if you need to make a tourniquet or sling (Ravenox).


Clean Your Air Vents

If you suddenly develop allergies or feel sick for no obvious reason, check your heating and cooling vents. This is a detrimental, yet subtle way your home could be making you sick, and it’s an easy thing to fix. If your air vents aren’t something you’ve kept track of or cleaned in a very long time, chances are, you’re breathing in harmful debris that’s affecting your life. The debris can build up over time and wreak havoc on your respiratory system. Hiring someone to clean your pipes and remove the dust and mold could potentially save your life and improve your health in the long run (The Healthy).

The Cool Down.

Label Your Kid’s Clothing

It’s always a good idea to label your kid’s jacket with your name, phone number, and emergency contact in case they’re ever lost. It also provides an efficient, quick way to keep track of your kid’s clothes. As long as you’re not keeping their name and contact information visible, you’re keeping them safe. Label the items inside the jacket, away from anyone easily seeing it. This will prevent a stranger from using that information to pretend they know your kid. You should also have a secret code word with your child. If a stranger happens to know their name and says their parent sent them, have your child ask them the code word. You can make a word that’s easy and fun for them to remember (Very Well Kid).


Always Carry A Swiss Knife

A small Swiss Army knife might come in handy more often than you think especially ones that come with small pliers. Whether you need it to cut through something or even use it as a quick weapon at home, it’s a small enough tool that will come in handy for emergencies. They’ll also come in handy for simple things like opening packages or cutting twine. If you use a Swiss Army Knife properly, it can help you repair gear, prepare food, and build a shelter. If you watch a few short videos on how to use a Swiss Army knife, it might just save your life one day (Tech Writer EDC).


Do Wrist Strengthening Exercises

Doing chin-ups is tiring. And it’s not your arms that get tired the fastest, it’s your wrists. This is easily solvable with wrist exercises using hand grips. This easy home hack can be done while you’re walking around your house, chatting on the phone, or watching a movie. But why is it so important? It may be the one thing that saves your life in an emergency, for example, if you fall out of a window or slip from a ladder, and you need to hold on to a narrow ledge. The strong grip and muscles will help you hold your body weight and keep you safe (Very Well Health).

The Kitchn

Stabilize Your Cutting Board

Typically, cutting boards don’t come with a rubber surface on the bottom which prevents them from sliding around on the countertop. This could potentially be dangerous and lead to an injury, especially if you’re using a sharp knife to cut vegetables or potatoes. You can easily stabilize your cutting board using two rubber bands, one on each end of the cutting board. This will steady the board and prevent it from moving around (Family Handy Man).


Keep A Car Emergency Kit In Your Car

You never know what might happen in your car. Always pack an emergency kit. This will help you if you’re stranded in a blizzard, if your car breaks down, or if you’re in a car accident. Pack long-life food like peanut butter, nuts, and canned goods. Also pack a flashlight, charging cables, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a shovel, water bottles, an emergency blanket, and an inflatable pillow. These items can fit easily in your trunk and won’t take up much space. Also, always keep your gas tank at least half full, especially in the wintertime. Trying to save money on gas and waiting until the very last second to fill up your tank could potentially be life-threatening one day (AAA).


Home Hack If You Live In A Tornado Area

If you live in a place that’s prone to tornadoes, you must take extra precautions to make sure you and your family are safe. This includes keeping a whistle handy at all times whenever you take shelter during a tornado. If you get trapped under debris, blow the whistle for help. The first responders can easily locate you. Blowing a whistle doesn’t take a lot of energy and may save your life. Other ways to take precautions include having a safe room, always keeping extra food and water stored in your home, and always having your camping gear ready (DIY Thrill).


Always Have Baking Soda And A Fire Extinguisher Handy

Baking soda is the secret ingredient to putting out fires. Never use water to put out a fire on your stove. If there’s grease, this could backfire and strengthen the flames. As an extra backup, always have a fire extinguisher in your house, whether it’s your kitchen or garage. Make sure you and your family know exactly where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it. A fire extinguisher isn’t of any use if no one knows how to use it properly (USFA).

NZ Herald

Keep Your Bedsheets Clean

Not washing your sheets invites tons of health hazards that could potentially harm you and your family. Bedsheets harvest tons of life-threatening fungi, viruses, and bacteria that could make you or your loved ones sick if you don’t stay on top of it. We spend a third of our life in bed, and most of us go at least 25 days without washing our sheets. Pillowcases that remain unwashed for a week harbor more than 17,000 times more bacteria than toilet seats. If you or your loved one was recently sick, take extra precautions and make sure you wash the sheets more often (WebMD).

Edgar Snyder & Associates

Drink Less Alcohol

This home hack might seem obvious, but cutting back on alcohol just might save your life. We all know a drink or two every day is beneficial for your health, but more than that may be detrimental. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of accidents at home. Drinking alcohol can impair a person’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time, which can increase the risk of accidents at home. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, their ability to perceive and react to potential hazards around them is diminished, and they may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. From drowning to fires, eliminating alcohol from the equation makes a home safer (Eat This).


Keep Your Humidity Levels Low To Prevent Mold

Black mold is detrimental to health. If you’re living in a home with black mold growth, you could experience respiratory problems, skin rashes, congestion, and shortness of breath. These symptoms increase over time, especially if you’re unaware you’re living with the mold. To prevent this, stay on top of the humidity levels in your home. Make sure it’s no higher than 50% all day long. You can keep track of this using a meter you buy at the store (CDC).


Use More Natural Ingredients To Clean Your Home

A majority of modern-day cleaning products are packed with harmful chemicals that are potentially life-threatening. These chemicals can contribute to a slew of health problems if they’re accidentally ingested or inhaled. The most concerning of the bunch, though, are the carcinogenic chemicals or ones that have perchloroethylene. Using more natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and cooking oil are ways to prevent these harmful diseases, while still keeping your house clean and free from bacteria (The Healthy).


Hide Your Cords

Keeping your office space organized doesn’t only keep your house looking clean, but it could save your life. If you have a bunch of wires lying around on the floor, this could potentially be a fire hazard. If you have a pet, it increases the chances of them biting through the cords, or if you have a young child, it could be a choking hazard. To prevent this, simply use a PVC pipe to organize your cords and label them with colorful tape (Family Handy Man).


Install A Home Security System

Home security is one of the biggest strategies to prevent theft and burglaries. With a proper home security system, you can keep yourself and your family protected and safe. This doesn’t have to be expensive, either. You can install a DIY home security system using video cameras, a video doorbell, using a block of wood for your door, hiding your outdoor tools, and having a pet dog. All of these strategies combined will contribute to a safer home (Family Handy Man).

Daily Mail.

Get A Pet Dog

Don’t just get a pet dog for your kids, but get a pet dog to protect your home, like a German Shepherd. Of course, this tiny dog captured on surveillance scared away this intruder. So maybe size really doesn’t matter? Burglars are a lot less likely to break into a home with a pet dog. Dogs act as the first line of defense against an intruder, since their sense of hearing is a lot better than ours. If they sense danger or an intruder, they’ll start barking. They act immediately when they sense something is off, and will be the first to warn you. Your pet dog might just save your life one day (Pet Safe).


Know Your Exits

Keeping you and your family informed about all of the exits in the house is an important way to ensure everyone’s safety, in case there’s a fire or intruder. If one window doesn’t open properly, it’s important to know that before an emergency as opposed to figuring it out when you’re trying to escape your home. Have an escape plan set out in case there is a fire, and identify several exit areas in your home that lead to the street. This is called the E.D.I.T.H. strategy, the Exit Drills In The Home. People are typically injured in their homes during a fire because they did not know how to properly escape. In the case of a fire, knowing an exit may be the difference between life and death (OCOEE).


Test Your Smoke Detectors Regularly

Electric devices break down, just like anything else. They’re not infallible and are prone to normal wear and tear. Smoke detectors can alert you to a fire in your home, but they won’t do you any good if they aren’t working. Make sure to test your smoke detectors at least once a month, and if it isn’t working, replace the battery or the device altogether. If there’s a fire in your home, a smoke detector is your first line of defense to keeping you and your family safe (All State).

City of Oxnard

Know How To Shut Off Your Utilities

Knowing how your utilities turn off is as important as knowing how they work. If there’s an emergency, you need to know how to turn them off without wasting any time. In case of a gas leak or other emergency, it’s important to know how to turn off your gas, water, and electricity. Keep the necessary tools or wrenches near the shut-off valves at all times, so they’re easily accessible. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, shut off the main valves and open all windows and doors in your home. After turning it off, never attempt to turn it back on. Instead, call your utility company and wait until a professional comes to fix the issue (Oxnard).


Keep Emergency Supplies On Hand

The weather is unpredictable, and you never know if a natural disaster is going to hit. That’s why it’s always a good idea to be one step ahead of the game. Keep a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food, and other emergency supplies in case you need to shelter in place during an emergency. As long as your needs are met, you’ll be able to wait out the storm safely. Having an emergency supplies kit on hand may be the difference between life and death in a dire situation like a natural disaster (Ready).

Home Serve

Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets

It may seem like a good idea to use a single outlet to save space, but it could be extremely dangerous. Overloading electrical outlets can lead to electrical fires. Make sure you don’t plug too many devices into a single outlet, and use power strips with surge protectors to prevent overloading. The wires may overheat and cause a fire, or the wires may shock you. Either way, it can be dangerous and it’s never a good idea to overload them (PL Electrical).

Lucie’s List

Secure Heavy Furniture

Most of us have heavy furniture in our homes. We use it for storage and decoration. Without it, our house would likely look empty. Despite how common heavy furniture is, it doesn’t mean it’s fail-proof. With one wrong push, heavy furniture such as bookcases, dressers, and TVs can tip over and cause serious injuries, particularly to children. Secure these items to the wall to prevent them from tipping over. Do this by purchasing furniture anchors, attaching an anchor to a wall stud, and hiring a professional to help (Child Proofing Experts).

The Idea Room

Keep Your Medications Organized

Use a pillbox or well-organized container to prevent accidental overdoses or missed doses. Taking the wrong dose of any medication can be detrimental and harmful to your health. You can also use a clear stacking organizer if you’re more of a visual person. Label each drawer with the correct medication, date, and time you’re supposed to take it to keep yourself organized. Use a dosing schedule chart and medication reminder app if you’re typically on the go. It’s especially important to organize your medicine if it’s for something like your heart or liver. In the case of an emergency, you need to act fast, so knowing where every medication is is a necessity (Very Well Health).


Keep A Pair Of Sturdy Shoes By Your Bed

In case of an emergency such as a fire, it’s important to be able to quickly put on sturdy shoes to protect your feet from broken glass, debris, or other hazards. It’s also a good idea if you live in an area prone to tornadoes. At the first sign of an emergency, you’ll want to easily locate your sneakers so you can act fast, whether that’s fleeing the scene, getting your family to safety, or stepping over debris. During an emergency, you don’t have time to locate your shoes, so knowing exactly where they are could shave off vital seconds that could save your life (South San Francisco).


Install Window Stops

Children love playing. They don’t necessarily understand the danger that comes with playing next to windows, which is why it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re safe. Window stops can prevent a window from opening more than a few inches, which can help prevent falls, particularly for children or pets playing near a window. Ground windows or low windows on the second floor pose an especially high risk, so it’s important to first install window stops in these windows. You can do this on a tight budget of $10-30 (VCHCA).


Keep A Whistle In Your Bedroom

A whistle has a multitude of purposes. It can be an effective way to call for help if you’re trapped or injured and can’t shout for assistance or need to get someone’s attention as fast as possible. In an earthquake or tornado, having a whistle nearby could save your life if you’re trapped under debris. The first responders can easily locate you without wasting any time or wondering where you are (Fire Chief Global).


Have A Safety Plan For Pets

Your pets are your family members too, so it’s important to have an emergency plan for them. This includes a way to get them out of the house quickly and safely. With an emergency plan set in place, it’ll increase your chances of protecting everyone in your household, and that includes your pets. Create easy ways for your pet to escape, like small doors that lead to your backyard. Assign someone the role of saving your pet, whether that’s you or your partner. Always know where their leashes are located, where they’re sleeping at night, and where they’re most likely to hide out. During an emergency, your pet may want to hide from fear, so it’s important to know where they’re likely to go. Put a decal in the front of your home indicating the type and number of pets you have, because in the case of a fire, this will cut the search and rescue time down (American Humane).