It’s Time to Change Your Clocks and Check Your Smoke Detectors Muskoka!

Muskoka Real EstateThis month we “Spring Forward” and that signals that it is also time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In accordance with the province of Ontario and the Ontario Fire Marshal office as well as standards set by the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association) for fire prevention residential dwellings must have smoke detection devices installed and in good working order.

This rule can be found in subsection 6.3.3 of fire code, but far more relevant, it should be found in our hearts. A desire to protect our family and even the Muskoka real estate we have worked so hard to own should be paramount to each of us. Sadly, we all know what it’s like to hear that screeching siren of our smoke detectors when we burn toast or even worse something in the oven! Then, there is the annoying chirp of the cottage smoke detector with the battery out of juice, which we have been meaning to replace. Going to the extreme of disconnecting, or removing the batteries and then even failing to replace them when needed, can be potentially fatal. When we are tempted to disable an alarm for temporary relief of an annoying sound, we do not intend to get caught up in our busy lives and to forget to re-place or re-connect the detector. But if the time comes that there is a real fire emergency, seconds count and a functional smoke detector truly can save the lives of your family and yourself.

It is so important to not become complacent as Muskoka property owners or in fact property owners anywhere! Just having a detector in your home is not enough.  You need to makes sure they are operational. Most new homes have hard wired smoke alarms and by regularly checking the “power on” light to ensure it is operating is usually sufficient. In battery operated smoke detection units, changing the batteries annually and pressing the test function button monthly is the recommended method by fire safety professionals. With a battery operated unit, an intermittent beep can be heard for about 7 days prior to a complete failure. This is designed to let you know the batteries are wearing out and need to be replaced immediately. I know we tend to think of it as an annoyance but to ensure optimal operation of the device and that it will be working in the horrid event you need it, change the batteries when you hear the signal.

In the case of rental properties, the property owner or landlord is considered to be the owner and therefore is responsible for installation and maintenance of smoke detectors and alarms. While the occupant of the residence, can be held responsible for disabling or making the alarm device inoperable it is the duty of the landlord/owner to inspect these units regularly and give the tenant notice to not disable them if they have been found to have done so. Failure to maintain and keep detectors in working order is a violation of fire code and is punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.

Please take care of your family and your beautiful Muskoka property, make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are all operational today!


Doing an inventory of your Muskoka Home – Wise on so many levels!

Clutter - Karen ActonDocumenting your household’s contents is an important step we should all take. Of course the obvious reason for making this list is for your household insurance however, there is another significant benefit. Creating the list is an awesome way to help you streamline your belongings.

You may have heard of, or even created, a home inventory before but here are some tips to create a thorough home inventory and streamline your belongings at the same time.

Make Your Inventory List

Choose your checklist. The first step in making a home inventory is getting your hands on a comprehensive checklist — one from your own insurance company is best or you can use this free spreadsheet from Vertex42.

The simplest way to approach it is to walk through your home, room by room.  It can be a bit of a tedious process so you may want to divvy up the task over several weekends. Record a brief description of each item, how many you have, how much it cost and the year you purchased it to the best of your recollection. If you happen to know where the receipt is snap a picture of it.

Cover every room, closet, shed, the attics, the workshop, porches and garages. Everything should all be carefully examined and documented.

Add photos or videos to expand the list.  Whether you are taking photos or video, start at the front and work your way through each room — try to go in the same order used on your checklist.

Consider adding a map! By noting down where exactly in the house everything is stored you can easily find something, whether it’s an emergency or just time to hang the Christmas lights.  Use an actual floor plan if you have one; if not, you can create your own simple sketch of each floor of your house. Being as specific as possible, note where in each room boxes or other items are stored.

Keep paperwork in one place. Gather receipts, credit card statements, appraisal documents and the like, and keep them bundled with your other home inventory materials.  Consider taking the time to scan everything and store the digital archive in at least two places. Small household scanners are becoming easily accessible and are a very useful tool.

Use Your List to Declutter

Your newly created list is a fantastic tool. It will give you an overview of all your stuff and make seeing the duplicates and unnecessary items simple. It will also make it easier to purge as the checklist can give you some emotional distance that is sometimes hard to have when trying to give up things.

Read over your list and mark items that you have a lot of. Do you really need all of those extra dishes? Start a list of things you want to sell or donate. Highlight valuable items. Especially note valuable pieces you’ve been holding on to for a long time but are not necessarily using. Do online research and estimate what you could sell the pieces for. Would you rather have the extra space and money? If so, let those pieces go! If you have plans to give a special item to members of your family this is a great time to make a special note of that too.

Make a plan to have the “Junk” picked up or schedule a trip to the dump. There are many organizations that will happily accept your donations and some with pick them up. It will be hard work so don’t forget to schedule a reward at the end…but not one that involves buying more stuff!

Once you have gotten rid of the excess it is time to box up everything you are keeping and not using. Containers instantly make things look neater, and it’s also easier to shift items around or grab a box you need rather than trying to unload armfuls of loose stuff from a shelf.

Use storage for rotating items too. Free up space in cupboards, closets, shelves and counters for the items you actually use daily, and pack away the rest. This is one of the best ways to make your life easier, without getting rid of a drastic amount of stuff. Simply rotate in fresh dishes, linens and decorative items seasonally.

Plan to Revisit Your List

Update your inventory. It may seem like a bit of a hassle but it really will keep things decluttered and easy to manage. Anytime you buy something new or get rid of something on your list, pull out that inventory and note the change. Remember it is much easier to keep clutter at bay than deal with it after things have gotten out of hand.

The most important thing to do with your list is to keep a copy of your inventory offsite. Use a safe-deposit box or an online cloud-based storage system to keep your home inventory and all supporting documents secure.

Remember, a clutter free home is easier to sell and easier to move out of so if you anticipate selling your Muskoka home getting it organized, will be something you will really benefit from.