(ARA) – If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a repair a week, the homeowner should seek. Taking good care of your home is important, just as is taking care of your own health. Evaluate your home and ask yourself if it meets your expectations in terms of functionality and energy efficiency. All elements of your home should work together and function properly for best performance.
Universal design is a good first step.
"Universal design takes into consideration the need for a home to keep pace with changing lifestyles and needs as occupants grow older," said Gary Mathes, manager, Residential Architectural Support Services at Pella Corporation.
Take a critical look at your windows and doors today with an eye to the future. "As you replace, remodel or start building, your goal should be to select products that will meet your needs for years down the road," said Mathes.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control, one-third of home accidents can be prevented with modifications and repairs.
Pella recommends these window and door universal design elements:
* Doorways and hallways should be a minimum of 36 inches wide.
* Place doors to allow for 18 to 24 inches clearance on the door handle side to easily open and close doors.
* Door thresholds should be no more than 1/2 inch high above the adjacent floor. If you prefer, install mini-ramps or transition wedges.
* Door locks should be sturdy yet easy to operate. Consider keyless locking systems for maximum convenience.
* Install a pocket door if you don't have the floor space necessary for a hinged door.
* Select front doors with a view panel to make it easy to see who's arrived at your door.
* For added privacy on sidelights and patio doors, consider options like the cordless between-the-glass blinds and shades on Pella's Designer Series sidelight collection so that you can enjoy a view and still conveniently cover the opening at desired times.
* Make sure windows are easy to unlock, open, close and lock, and require minimal maintenance.
* For greater safety and convenience, select double-hung windows that tilt in for easy cleaning, or casement units that open with the maximum clearance to allow easy access to both the exterior and interior glass surfaces from inside the building.
Fire safety at home
Your home should be the first place where safety starts in design and function. Windows and doors protect you and your family from outside weather elements and serve as potential escape routes in the case of fire. Pella reminds everyone that it's essential to practice a family fire drill and develop a home escape plan. In fact, a survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Association found that only 25 percent of respondents with escape plans actually practiced them.
Note these important home fire safety suggestions from Pella:
* Identify two exits – Designate two exits from every room in your home – a door and a window. Make sure doors and windows operate properly to ensure a quick exit; if not, consider replacing them.
* Use smoke alarms – Install smoke alarms in or near every bedroom and on every level of your home. Test alarms monthly, change batteries regularly, and replace alarms every 10 years for greater safety.
* Make a quick exit – Keep rooms neat and furniture and clutter away from windows and doors so you can get out quickly if necessary and to prevent falls.
* Give yourself an out – In the event of fire, choose the closest and safest exit route to get out quickly and stay out. Avoid going through smoke or flames.
* Stay low and go – To escape from a burning home, crawl out quickly on your hands and knees to help avoid smoke and fumes near the floor.
* Once you're out, stay out – Never go back into a burning building. Stay safe. Go to your safe meeting place outside your home and call for help.
For more helpful fire safety tips, call (866) 829-9050 for a free brochure. To download a fire escape planning grid or get additional fire safety information, visit www.pella.com .