Pet Proof Your Home

Our pets are our family, so we decided to do a little article highlighting their safety as well. Of course we want our homes to be a safe place for them, but that can be a bit easier said than done. It’s hard to know what’s dangerous for our animals when we aren’t even sure what they’re capable of getting into. We might think we have everything in a safe location only to be surprised by a poisoned pet and a shocking vet bill. Here are a few ways to keep your home safe for all your family members, even the ones with four legs.

1.) Choose the right plants. While many plants are beautiful, not all of them belong in a home with pets. Your cats may love your lilies, but they shouldn’t be eating them, and almost all lilies are toxic to cats. Make sure you are either very aware of what plants are in your home, or at least have them moved to a safer location to avoid any issues.

2.) Secure your toiletries. Your lotions and soaps might be safe for skin contact, but they could be incredibly harmful when ingested. Plus, it’s not likely that your pet would only eat a portion. Many pets eat these things because they have a sweet, sugary taste, meaning they might eat an entire bottle if they get ahold of it. Make sure to keep them off accessible countertops and keep cabinets closed and secure.

3.) Set boundaries. Sometimes there’s just no way for you to make a room completely pet proof. Maybe you have a woodshop with an abundant supply of electric tools, or maybe you’ve got an art room with countless paints and glues. In either case, it might be a great idea to put up a gate to keep your pets out of these rooms completely. Just be sure to install the right kind of gate; a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs will keep it from toppling over should your pet decide to lean up against it.

4.) Beware of wires. Pets are notorious for chewing on anything they can find, and wires make perfect chewtoys. Your pets, however, have no idea just how dangerous they can be. Besides the threat of electrocution, your furry family members might panic in a pile of cords and could even result in strangling themselves. So when you hook up your new big screen television, make sure to tuck away all the wires first. Your pets will thank you for it.

5.) Size matters. Any knick-knacks or toys that would dangerous to a baby are also dangerous to your pets for the same reason: they’re a choking hazard. Keep your floors clear of anything small enough for your pet to swallow on accident. Especially puppies, since they don’t have the jaw strength to chew up larger items.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

3 Home Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

There are countless times during the year when you might have to leave your home for an extended period of time. Perhaps you’re heading home to help out with a family issue, you need to head out of town for a job interview or maybe you just got lucky and happen to be going on an epic (and probably very well deserved) vacation. Regardless of the reason, if you don’t have roommates (or your roommates are also taking a leave of absence at the same time), there are a few home maintenance tasks you need to take care of before you walk out the door.

1.) Take care of perishable foods. There aren’t many worse things than arriving home after a couple weeks only to walk into a kitchen filled with rotting, diseased food. Not only will your house reek, but you’ll also be attracting various pests, such as mice, cockroaches and fruit flies. So before you take off, make sure your perishable foods are kept to a minimum. Clean out everything in the refrigerator and make sure no fresh fruit or vegetables are left out on the counter. No need to throw it all out; you can have a house-sitter take whatever they would like or have a dinner party the night before you go. On the menu: anything that won’t make it until you return home.

2.) Minimize your energy use. If you’re not going to be home there’s no point in running energy to half the things you own. Unplug everything that isn’t necessary for your home’s maintenance while you’re away. Alarm clocks, lamps, blow dryers, exercise equipment, and make sure all the lights are off in rooms you won’t be using. Even if something is switched off, there is still energy running to it until it’s unplugged. Along with cutting down on your energy bill, unplugging everything will also help prevent electrical fires in your absence.

Keep any safety lights on, however. You’ll want any motion activated lights to be up and running. If you have any alarms or security cameras of course you should keep them plugged in.

3.) Set your heat to the right temp. If you’ve taken care of the perishable food and have no plants or animals to worry about, you won’t necessarily need to worry about keeping it cool. However, if you let it cool down too much, you could be in a world of hurt. Even though the summer months are known for warmer weather, you’ll want to make sure your thermostat is set to at least 60 degrees to prevent frozen pipes of any kind.  

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

The Secret Storage Space You’re Forgetting About

Storage? For a safety blog?

One of the biggest safety concerns is whether or not you can store your stuff in a private place. If you were to ask 1,000 people that lived in a small space what their #1 wish would be, the vast majority of them would probably tell you they would like more storage. And in college, more storage becomes more important than ever. You’re slowly growing a collection of your own things, but you also probably have endless boxes of childhood knick-knacks sitting at your parents’ house as well. And let’s face it, between your nosy roommates and snooping RAs, it can be tough to find a bit of privacy in your own room. However, after you’ve already packed your closets as full as they can get an crowded every junk drawer in your home, you start looking for other options. So where’s the one place you can hide your stuff without someone else finding it?

The stairs.

Sound crazy? Probably. Of all the places in the home you’d like to keep clear of clutter, the stairway is probably priority #1. But we’re talking about a sneakier version of storage than just stacking things along your stairway. We’re talking about reinventing the idea of storage and applying it to a wasted space in your home. Read on.

1.) As individual drawers. It doesn’t take much to turn each step into a drawer, and you’ll never even notice the change. When all the drawers are closed your staircase will look exactly as before, plus it gives you the chance to do something with one of the most awkward spaces I your house.

 stairs-with-storage

2.) As shelves. There is no need for the sides of your stairway to be a blank wall or empty space. Adding some edges or shelves will give you space to put some of your smaller items. Just make sure the shelves and items are arranged in a uniform way to prevent the look of extra clutter.

 3-7-stairs

3.) Reconfigure storage bins as stairs. Pretty much anything can work as a stairway if it gradually raises in elevation, one step at a time. So don’t limit yourself to the traditional look. Creating steps out of wooden storage crates can provide an interesting look and still get the job done.

4.) Slide-under storage units. There are plenty of storage units that come with wheels on the bottom. Simply order a couple of units measuring the same width as your staircase but varying in height and store them underneath your stairway. You’ll have all your things organized and easily accessible.

 

Multipurpose-Stairs-for-Small-Apartment-picture

5.) Lift tops. Much like the drawer idea, turning the top of each step into a lift-able lid will also provide you with plenty of extra storage space. And no one will ever know, except for the face that the rest of your house will be incredibly less cluttered since a great deal of your belongings have been moved to their new secret storage area.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

Reducing Hazardous Waste in Your Home

When you think of the ways your life could be improved, the reduction of hazardous waste in our homes is usually pretty far down on the list. However, we feel it should be moved up a notch or two. It’s not just about your home being clean – a clean home can still be a hazardous landmine – it’s about making sure the place you sleep, eat and drink is as safe as possible, and we’ve got a few ways to help you do that.

1.) Know your labels. Know what you’re buying before you buy it. Having a harmful product in the house is almost as hazardous as using it. Plus, if you have children or pets in your home they are surely bound to run across it someday. You also don’t want to be moving a product from one labeled container to an unlabeled one. You want to make sure that you or anyone else that might use something like a specific cleaning supply knows exactly what they are getting into. Keeping it in a labeled container also allows you to do step #2:

2.) Follow directions. In this day and age, directions are really treated as more of an afterthought. For the most part, we should be able to figure out how to use something. However, accidently using too much could be incredibly unsafe. That’s why there are directions in the first place; to make sure we aren’t exposed to a dangerous amount of a certain chemical.

3.) Store your products properly. Many chemicals can change if stored at certain temperatures, so make sure your products are kept at the right one; often between 50 and 80 degrees in a dry environment, but some products have more rigid storage requirements. Exposure to humidity or sunlight can also change the composition of what’s inside, leaving you with a surprise product made out of already hazardous materials in your home.

4.) Give away extras. If you don’t need it, don’t keep it! There’s no point in simply letting git sit in your home. Unused cleaning supplies can be given to a friend that hasn’t started their spring cleaning yet, unused pesticides can be donated to plant nurseries and paint can be donated to theater groups.

5.) Dispose of products properly. As convenient as it may be, simply tossing the empty container (or even a container with remaining product) into the garbage can is not the best choice. Potentially hazardous materials need to be handled at a proper waste disposal site to ensure they don’t end up in a landfill, seeping into the groundwater or contaminating our lakes and streams.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

3 Ways to Protect Your Home from Theft

Did you know roughly 1.6 million residential burglaries occur in the US every year? Of course we’re not saying that to scare you, we’re telling you that so you’ll be aware of the risks. Home theft does happen, and even if you always hope it doesn’t happen to you, the truth it is at some point in time someone will most likely look at your home as a potential target. In those cases, here the top three ways of protecting yourself and your belongings from outside intruders:

1.) Give a “lived in” feel. A “lived in” feel means it looks like someone is home at all times. Things like keeping the mail from building up on the front porch or having your neighbor park their car in your driveway when you’re gone for the weekend give the impression that someone is home. And for longer periods of time, making sure your yard is maintained and is also a simple tip to make it look like your home isn’t completely abandoned.

Another great tactic is to use light to your advantage. Motion lights outside your home are an easy way to spook anyone that might be scoping your place out. Even if you aren’t home, it still shines some light on them for other people in the area to see. In addition, set your lights and television to times that come on and off at various times. A potential burglar is much more likely to go for the dark and quite home at 9:00 at night rather than the one with lights and an active television.

 2.) Protect your valuables. Leaving your laptop on the dining room table right next the front window can often be just asking for trouble. Instead, make your home appear less tempting. Purchase an entertainment cabinet with doors that close over your television when you’re done watching it and have your valuables in a well-hidden area that isn’t the cookie jar, under your mattress or the freezer. A great trick is to have an empty safe in plain view while you keep your valuables in a much more hidden safe. Thieves tend to take the safe and run, thinking they’ve already hit the jackpot, when really they’ve only gotten away with a free safe.

3.) Get to know your neighbors. By having a good relationship with the people around you, they will better be able to tell when someone isn’t right at your home. The better they know you, the better they know the people around you. They know what your friends and family all drive and they know when a strange car is lurking around your place. It can be very comforting knowing someone is looking out for your home when you have to leave town for a few days.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

Buying a House with Friends

Let’s face it; paying rent sucks. It’s usually just money that’s going to nothing. Plus, you really have no say over what happens at your home. You need new locks put on the doors? It’s probably going to happen whenever your landlord gets around to it. When you own your own home the both of you can determine everything that happens with it. You can install a home alarm system, you don’t have to  worry about being evicted for having your  music too loud and you don’t have to hide your cat anymore.

Nowadays, more and more friends have been pooling their money together to buy a home. You might hear the term “mingles” being used to describe them. And it seems banks are even catching onto the trend, as more and more lenders are tailoring specific loans to friends looking to make a home purchase together.

And while there are many positives to such a relationship (your rent might be exactly the same, but now you’re both building equity with those monthly payments), there are definitely some other factors that you need to consider.

1.) How well do you know your friend? If you’ve known this person since childhood and are personally aware of the fact that they have never paid a bill late in their entire lives, then that’s a pretty good sign. Keep in mind though, if you guys are planning on living together in this house, are you ready to have them as a roommate? Just because you get along well doesn’t mean you can live together. Everyone has a few little quirks that might be deal-breakers to a roommate.

2.) Discuss all finances. Your credit score and putting in for a home loan aren’t the only things you need to consider. After you own the home, how much do each of you have for an emergency fund? Do both of you have enough money saved to pay for burst pipes or a failed roof? Homeownership between two people leaves no room for financial secrecy.

3.) Have you hired the right people? It’s not only important to hire an experienced real estate agent, but also an experienced real estate attorney. Since the paperwork will be different than that of a single buyer or a married couple, it’s very, very important that every, single detail be reviewed by an attorney. This will not only force you both to review each document in detail so you are both well prepared for the commitment, but it will clear things up should anything happen that would need to be settled in the future.

4.) Have you drawn up a lease? Even though you both own the home, a lease is an absolute must should things ever go downhill later. A lease should specify cohabitation terms. People change, and you want to make sure the person you are planning on living with does not change into a terror of a roommate. Then your hands are tied. A lease will ensure a comfortable and expected living space for both of you. Don’t be too nervous though, a lease can always be changed or adjusted in the future.

5.) Have you looked into insurance? Many couples both buy insurance separately, naming the other party as the beneficiary. This way, if one of you meets an untimely death, the other won’t be left in hot water.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

Keeping Your Private Things Private at College

College has a funny way of keeping you on your toes. You’re living with people you don’t know (even if you think you do), yet you feel bad for not trusting them. After all, they’re your roommate. If you can trust them enough to sleep in the bed three feet away from you, you should be able to trust them not to steal your mac’n’cheese, right? Not quite. As many experienced college students will tell you, your mac’n’cheese isn’t going to last a week in that house.

And as for more important things, like your computer, your ID, your birth certificate, or even your journal, you’re not going to want to leave those things out in the open. Sure you and your roommates are friends now, but after the first fight she probably isn’t going to hesitate to read your journal, and depending how bad the fight is, even post its contents online. Don’t forget, college is often only one step higher than high school…you need to protect yourself.

1.) Don’t leave your stuff out. It’s rule #1 (on this list and on every other list you will ever read). And why? Because it’s stupid. It’s not too tough to go through someone’s stuff when they have it on display. Even worse, with a certain kind of roommate, it’s like you’re openly tempting them. Put your stuff away.

2.) Write your name on things. If your name isn’t on your things already, you’re just asking for trouble. My sophomore year I had a really expensive pan that I used to cook everything on, and when my roommate moved out she tried to take it, saying it was hers. Her mother even agreed that it was her pan that she got from her mother. Thank God my name was underneath the handle or I would’ve been out a seriously expensive frying pan.

3.) Log your stuff up when you’re not there. Just because you leave the room for a few minutes doesn’t mean something couldn’t go wrong. Password protect everything on your computer, and have a spot you can put things when you leave for longer. A dorm trunk (like this Launcher Trunk) is an awesome (and stylish) way to make sure all your things will stay exactly as you left them.

4.) Have a backup. Backup your files. Your pictures, your music, your papers and assignments (read: the hours and hours and hours you’ve put into your research paper). Starting from scratch would be miserable, and trust me, there’s no better way to get revenge on a roommate than to delete that 12 page paper they’ve been working on for the last 2 weeks.

5.) Don’t brag. It can be tempting to tell everyone about that sweet iPad you got for your birthday, but it’s a bad idea. You never know who might be listening, and you never know who is going to find out. You have no idea who the phrase, “Oh man, you should see my roommate’s new iPad, it’s ridiculous!” could be uttered to.

Don’t forget to visit SecureOnCampus.com for dorm trunks, laptop safes and more!