The holidays are a time for celebration and community. Gatherings filled with laughter and love, memories and special recipes. But bringing together our families and preparing large meals can expose our homes to dangers of fire and safety like no other time of the year. With an average of 455 daily fires, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. We also have general home safety matters that can impact a great time with family and friends. As we enter the holiday season, a few easy steps and precautions can get you and your home ready for a safe Thanksgiving.
Did You Know?
Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment. It is second to Christmas and Christmas Eve with four times as many cooking fires as any typical day of the year. In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to approximately 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving day (source: www.nfpa.org). It’s easy to get distracted or try to save time by setting timers to bake while we are away, but these kinds of small changes in our habits can lead to fires.
Tips to Stay Safe While Cooking
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you and your family are safe during the cooking festivities this Thanksgiving season. Use these tips to get started and stay safe:
- Don’t leave cooking unattended. Unattended cooking fires are by far the leading cause of danger.
- Check your cooking equipment and don’t overload electrical circuits. Cooking equipment was involved in nearly half of all reported home fires in recent years.
- Create safe spaces for children that keep them at least 3 feet away from stoves. Remember, cooking turkey and pies and other holiday treats keeps your stove on longer and at higher temperatures than most other days of the year. Special precautions to keep children safe and occupied away from the cooking is a simple safety step.
- Give careful attention to electrical cords from mixers, coffee makers, electric knives, plate warmers, and other equipment to make sure they are stowed safely and not dangling where movement could knock them off counters.
- Keep matches and utility lighters locked in a high cabinet and only light candles with adults present at all times. Candle wax and flames can easily catch tablecloths, napkins, and other flammable surfaces on fire with little warning.
- Finally, make sure to test your smoke alarms before you start cooking, simply push the test button and make sure the alarm chirps as needed, just in case a fire does occur.
Other Ways to Keep Your Home Safe
Cooking poses one real set of dangers, but holidays also open our homes up to other dangers, sometimes without us even realizing our actions are increasing our risks. Here are a few additional tips to help keep your home and guests safe this holiday season:
- Keep exterior doors locked at all times. It can be tempting to leave a key or door unlocked for the arrival of out of town guests, but thieves know the tricks and can easily gain entry in this manner. Instead, consider installing code-driven locks so that you can share a code with guests or arrange to have a neighbor hold onto a key for easy transfer when guests arrive.
- Plan for packages and keep them inside. With the advent of Amazon and other delivery services, it is more common to see boxes and items left on front porches or near doorways. If you are receiving a package, plan on having a neighbor keep an eye out so that your package can be taken indoors efficiently or consider having packages delivered to your place of work instead of your home. Packages on porches are tempting for those with ill intent and monitoring cameras and other devices to help ensure your porches are safe can add to your stress.
- Install motion-detection lighting and regularly keep exterior lights on. With the time change and darker hours earlier, it is easy for those with bad intentions to feel safer under the cloak of darkness. Disturb their sense of safety, and they will look for another home to target. Lighting is the easiest way to bring quick attention to anyone who comes on your porches or in your yard. Make your porch and yard a place that feels like they would be seen and thieves will move on.
Of course, keeping your home safe is about so much more than just fire prevention and locked doors. Your home is a place of memories and safety, family, and friends. And no one understands how to turn a house into a home better than a realtor like me. For nearly 30 years I’ve been helping folks just like you to find, negotiate, stage, and settle into their new houses… that quickly become their homes. Stay safe this Thanksgiving and give me a call at 336-575-7249 when you are ready to buy your next home.
Give me a call when I can help you!! Ellen Dudley, RE/MAX Preferred Properties, 336-575-7249
Taking on home improvements can be a fulfilling adventure, allowing you to transform spaces and looks whether you decide to sell or determine that your new space fits you once again! But if you are going to take on projects, my 20+ years of experience in real estate tell me that you’ll enjoy the project, outcome, and long-term effect of a project more if you consider the average return on investment you can anticipate. Here are a few of the best projects to consider to get you the best ROI on your exterior upgrades. It may be that you want to sell your current space and find a new home to customize into your very own…
Sometimes you just need a change, but you find yourself on a tight budget. Those are the perfect times to side-step big new furniture purchases and hiring outside help to dig into a few tips that allow any homeowner to spruce up their space without breaking the bank. After you take some of these steps, then you can easily consider if a few choice purchases might be the finishing touches you need to feel like new in your existing space.
Make Two Lists
The first list should include all the major pieces of furniture that are in the room or which you wish to place in the room. It’s important to have an inventory of the major pieces so that you can make a plan. In addition to the first list, make a second list that includes what uses and feeling you’d like the room to embody. These two lists together will allow you to plan a layout that evokes the types of environment and movement you want the room to achieve.
As you create the lists, think outside the room about other pieces of furniture that are throughout your home. Is there a nightstand that could switch out with an end table for a fresh look or something similar? Sometimes just switching up the location of furniture between rooms can have a powerful effect.
To get started making a layout, look at the entrances and outlets in the room to make sure you don’t place things far from the creature comforts that are essential to everyday living. Once you have a rough idea of how you want the furniture to be placed, sketch it roughly on a sheet of paper and make sure that you think that movement and comfort are accounted for. Finally, move the furniture into the general spaces that you have decided and let it sit for a few days to ensure that you are happy before you move to additional steps.
Once the layout of the room feels comfortable, take a look at the colors of fabric, walls, flooring, and accent elements. You want the colors to complement each other, so consider coverings for couches or chairs that work well with the wall colors. These kinds of changes are easier to adjust time and again than paint colors or other more intensive projects. If you have trouble matching colors and textures, consider using existing palettes that are distributed by designers as a foundation. For example, House Beautiful published some of the most anticipated color palettes for 2017.
Focus on Lighting
Lighting occurs in two environments, so you have to consider both and decide how to balance your decisions based on how you utilize the room.
Start by looking at the placement of natural light (including considering what time of day the sunlight will move through the room based on the direction the home faces) and how you can use that light during the day to showcase spaces in fresh ways. Perhaps you place a décor piece that you want to be a focal point where a sunbeam will fall in mid-afternoon or adjust the placement of a throw rug so that the light splashes across a pattern in a unique manner.
Next, consider what happens once the sun goes down. What kind of light will set the mood and environment that you need in order to utilize the space? Overhead lighting can splash a wide even light, but might be too much for some spaces. Floor lamps of different heights and wattage bulbs can offer adjustable options for bright areas and lower-light elements too. For relaxation, consider different lighting elements such as salt lamps or other diffused light options like electric candles that glow more than shine. With evening lighting, you even have the opportunity to layer lights in such a way that the room can be bright and filled with light or dim and cozy for watching movies or quieter times. If you want to invest a few dollars, consider installing dimmer light switches for an added element of lighting control! Ellen Dudley, RE/MAX Preferred Properties, 336-575-7249
Together, these interior home makeover tips will get you started looking at your spaces and pieces in a different light, giving fresh life and feeling to your home. Use them as a foundation and start one room at a time, picking your most used room as the first space to transform, and you’ll soon be seeing your home in a new way!
As we live in our own spaces, we become somewhat blind to the ways in which our possessions impact the feel and nature of our house. To get a fresh perspective and renew the layout and details of our home, a professional staging expert can be highly valuable in setting a feel and experience that moves your house from “For Sale” to “Sold” faster and closer to your asking price. Take a look below at just a few of the amazing benefits of having your home professionally staged…
When you think about your home, the more comfort you can surround yourself with, the more relaxed you likely feel. Regardless of whether you plan to stay in your home for several years or are preparing to sell, one of the best improvements you can make involves the vast number of choices in smart home technologies. From safety, peace of mind, and convenience to saved time, comfort, and routine, smart devices can quickly upgrade a house into a home…
Curb appeal literally starts roadside at the curb and everyone knows that a beautiful green carpet of grass leading up to a doorstep can transform first impressions of a home. Aside from sod or professional lawn services, there are plenty of things that you can do to fill brown patches and encourage a consistent blanket of carpet throughout your yard. Once you get some of these tips started, give me a call at 336-575-7249 and let’s discuss other ways you can upgrade your yard or otherwise prepare your property for maximum enjoyment. After all, planting grass in fall is the best time of year to ensure success!
By now, most have seen the Febreze commercials where the company markets that odors which surround us regularly can cause us to become “nose blind.” If you happen to have missed the series, here’s a link to one that talks about pet odors in your car. Just like pet odors can permeate our vehicles, the soft surfaces in our homes can absorb stains and odors in unpleasant ways. One challenge some homeowners face is how to deal with dog urine spots in their carpet.
As an experienced Realtor, I’ve seen (and smelled) it all. And I can share that some clients have no clue how strongly their pet odors are until we begin to stage their homes for showing. Read on for some tips on how to best treat and eliminate the evidence of such pet accidents and give me a call at 336-575- 7249 to discuss other ways you can get your property showing ready!
Why Does Some Dog Urine Smell So Strongly?
Dog urine is designed to eliminate toxins in the system, so this means it is normal for a dog’s urine to smell pretty pungent. In dogs that have not been “fixed,” the smell of urine is also impacted by hormonal changes regarding reproduction.
What Can You Do if There are New Dog Urine Spots on your Carpet?
First, remember that simple tap water is often the best first removal step. You read that right, tap water. Why? Because urine has a water base and by adding water, you disperse toxins and also add liquid that can be absorbed. Start by gently blotting up what liquid you can from the location. Be careful not to press firmly as you can cause the urine to go deeper into the padding and widen in circumference. After blotting up liquid with a clean towel or cloth, use clean water to re-saturate the area and then continue blotting. If you catch the accident shortly after it occurs, this alone could be enough to remove the urine and any chance of odor.
If you’d like to be certain that no bacteria or odor remains, Canine Journal recommends Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer. It’s a product commonly sold at retailers nationwide and has fantastic reviews and backing by vets and carpet cleaning professionals too. Based on the size of the area you are treating, this particular product is sold in both concentrate for carpet steaming machines and spray bottles for spot treatment.
But What if the Stains are Older and More Set?
We all know that getting set stains out of carpet can be a challenge. Our focus is on the elimination of odor, not necessarily the stain as urine can bleach or otherwise discolor various dyes in unique ways. Spend your first time on getting the smell out of the area and then see how much of a stain or discolored area remains to decide upon what approach might be best for aesthetics.
Treating a set-in spot starts in a similar manner to treating a fresh one: apply plenty of clean water to allow the bacteria and stain to begin to lift from the fabric. In this case, your easiest route is usually to borrow, buy, or even rent a water-based carpet cleaning machine as this ensures you can push water deep into the padding and extract it, along with the toxins and bacteria that cause smells. You can also use a wet/dry vac and cycle through applying clean water and then extracting it with the vacuum until most of the stain is removed.
After you have cycled through several times with water and extraction, you’ll want to apply a high-quality pet stain deodorizer like the Nature’s Miracle product referenced above. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle and to let the area dry completely before trying another round of treatment.
Remember to always keep your pets clear of the area that is being treated until it is completely dry and to follow all manufacturer directions for best results.
These tips should get you started on the right path to removing odors from your carpets in the places where pet accidents have occurred. Remember to be patient as you work to remove the odor and associated stains. Carpet fibers are tough, but over agitation and scrubbing can mat or cause odd wear patterns. It is best to work in stages to remove odors and stains than to rush and cause a fresh set of problems.
What tips do you have for removing doggy urine stains?
It’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the season and begin projects and improvements that you’ve been itching to do all year. But before you get started, I’d recommend looking at these projects that both increase your enjoyment of your home and allow you to increase the perceived value of your home to potential buyers. Who’s ready to invest in home upgrades that add value while keeping it low budget and easy?!!
What can you do to bring a bit of that beauty into your yard and ensure a thick carpet of grass without having to hire a professional service? While nothing can guarantee an ideal yard, you can take a few key steps to help make sure that your grass is healthy and thrives. Take some time to learn how to make your grass greener…
After a long fall and winter, nothing can be quite as satisfying as the first tastes of springtime weather. Warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and soft breezes are a welcome sight to many as the time nears to pack away fluffy sweaters and jackets. Along with these cues of warmer temperatures often comes the drive to clean up our homes with a good old fashioned “spring cleaning” both inside and out. Use these tips to help develop your personal plan for Spring cleaning…
We all know that seeing is believing, but for many who are trying to sell their home, understanding how to see their home through the eyes of potential buyers can be a difficult task. After all, most of us have lived in our home for a period of time which has allowed us to truly make them our own by incorporating our taste and personality. Yet potential buyers that come into our home may not see the world the way we do. You may have heard of the term ‘staging,’ a term which can refer to everything from the color of the walls and furniture placement to how pictures are placed on walls and even the lighting selection. Professional stagers can be a costly yet valuable investment during the selling process, but it probably will be worth the costs involved!
These insights have not only held true through my 25+ years of experience, but have also been used by real estate agents nationwide to quickly prepare homes for a good showing.
First Impressions Really Do Matter
From the moment a potential buyer pulls into your neighborhood, they begin assessing how well the area fits their needs and personality. These impressions continue as they pull up to your home and take full effect after they step over your threshold. Buyers who have a bad impression in any of these areas will be more hesitant to consider your property. To address these types of issues, you may have more power than you realize.
Neighborhood Associations and protective covenants and restrictions are your allies in sprucing up the neighborhood. Get in touch early and know your rights. On the homefront, ask several friends and/or family to provide their top three suggestions of easy and affordable ways to increase curbside appeal. Then, share the results of that mini-test with me, your real estate partner, and together we can work to select the best improvements to implement for a stellar first impression.
Plan for Right and Left Brain Thinkers
The vast majority of the market is left-brain dominant. Left brain thinkers are highly analytical and feed on organization. To appeal to these buyers, your home must be uncluttered and orderly. At the same time, elements that increase the flow and overall feel of a property will strongly appeal to the right-brain emotional side of buyers. These elements include paying attention to lighting and furniture placement.
Strive for Balance
Given the suggestions above, it may feel as if you will need to live in a sterile environment in order to sell your home, but that is simply not true. Yes, buyers desire attractive neighborhoods and clean homes, but they also want to see properties where they can honestly see themselves living day-to-day. Investing in temporary storage gives you an opportunity to not only clean up some of the clutter that accumulates over the years, but also gives you a head start on packing for your own move. To begin this process, go into each room and determine what the essential items are that must stay. For example, music and book collections can often be packed away without much impact on your daily living, as can specialty kitchen items.
If the only steps you took were those three insights above, the new you would be automatically positioned in a stronger place than many comparative properties in your area. Yet having a real estate partner with decades of experience can take this process to even greater heights and can smooth out the process and lessen your stress. Call me today at 336-575-7249 to get started preparing your home to ideally present to the market of buyers just waiting to call your home their own.
Toth, Tori. “Home Seller Tips: Focus Perceptions by Enhancing Your Visual Thinking.” RISMedias Housecall. N.p., 10 Aug. 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.
Koziol, Nina. “As with Love, First Impressions Matter in Home Sales.” RISMedia As with Love First Impressions Matter in Home Sales Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.
Read my 15 top tips to make your move easier and your unpacking more efficient so you can get settled in quicker to enjoy your new home…
Most people will not sell enough real estate in their lifetime to learn some of the tips and tricks of the trade that come with years of experience as a successful agent. Partnering with a real estate agent who not only knows the market and region, but who also is well-versed in the little shifts that can sell your home faster can make putting your home on the market an easier experience. I bring decades of experience and knowledge with me to every listing and engage that background to align your home with the market and set successful expectations. Keep reading for a few of my favorite tips that I’ve engaged over the years…