A Homeowner’s Guide to Security and Safety

A person's home should be their sanctuary, and for many, it's the most important place in their lives. That's why it's important to take care of the home by ensuring its security and the safety of its residents. A safe home is one in which steps have been taken to prevent dangerous accidents from happening. A secure home is one in which steps have been taken to prevent people from committing intentional and malicious acts against the property and those who live in it. It's crucial that homeowners understand how they can accomplish and maintain both.

Security Tips

Keeping one's house secured helps to protect homeowners and their families from security risks and threats, which can come in the form of home invasions, vandalism, or robberies that lead to the destruction of the home, the loss of property, and even injury or death to its occupants. Fortunately, people can improve the security of their home, a process that should begin even before they purchase it.

Research the neighborhood for criminal activity. Prior to making an offer on a house, buyers should thoroughly investigate the history of crimes in the neighborhood. This may be done by using online resources, making inquiries with the police in the area, or checking county records. Area crime reports often reveal information such as the number of sex offenders in the neighborhood or crime statistics like recent acts of violence or burglaries of homes or autos. Another way to research a neighborhood is to visit and walk around at different times of the day and week. This will help you get an idea of what the neighbors and neighborhood are like.

Secure the points of entry. After buying a house, it's important to ensure that any doors or windows leading to the outside, including the garage, have locks installed. At a minimum, doors should have a strong frame, a strike plate to strengthen the door jamb, and a deadbolt installed. Many homeowners are turning to video doorbells to monitor who approaches doorways, particularly the front door. Sensors that alert homeowners to breaking glass are also a useful option to consider.

Install a security system. Home security systems are beneficial in several ways. Not only do they alert homeowners when someone enters or attempts to enter the home, but just the risk of setting off the alarm and being detected often acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves. Simply having an alarm system, however, is not enough. To be effective, it should be enabled every time the house is left empty and at night. Security system options range from video cameras to monitored systems that notify the police. In addition to the protection that comes from installing an alarm, it may also lower one's home insurance.

Plant shrubs. Shrubbery has both positive and negative effects on home security. On the positive side, shrubs offer privacy to those inside the home, and shrubs with bristles or thorns may be placed beneath windows to deter criminals from lurking or hiding behind them. Shrubs without thorns, however, may pose a security threat, as criminals may use them as a place to hide. To reduce this risk, keep bushes low and trimmed so they cannot easily be used for concealment.

Get a dog. A dog discourages intruders in several ways. Barking from even a small dog can deter an intruder due to the fear of detection. Additionally, the fear of being bitten, particularly by a dog with a menacing appearance, may also make some criminals reconsider breaking into a house.

Make sure the house looks occupied. A house that looks unoccupied is an appealing one to criminals. Leave the lights on when away from the home at night, or set them using a timer to go on and off during vacations. When spending time away from the home, recruit a neighbor or friend to collect any deliveries, mail, or other items that may begin to collect on the doorstep. Paying someone to keep the landscape maintained will also give the appearance that someone is home and caring for the property.

Safety Tips

Accidents in the home can happen to anyone, from the oldest person in the house to the youngest. There are many ways to get hurt, but there are just as many ways to avoid injury and increase the safety of one's home.

Follow fire safety rules. Annually, there are more than 300,000 residential fires, and more than half start in the kitchen. Fire safety in the kitchen begins with keeping flammable items away from heat sources. For example, potholders and paper towels should never be placed near a gas or electric burner, nor should cooking food be left unattended.

Beyond the kitchen, good fire safety practices include installing smoke alarms on every floor of the residence near bedrooms and in the kitchen. Alarm batteries must be replaced annually and tested monthly to ensure that they are in good working condition. Keep candles away from children at all times; place them out of the reach of children and pets when lit. During the winter months, use heaters and fireplaces with care; keep them a safe distance from furniture, bedding, and materials that may catch on fire. Children should never be left alone in the presence of fire or heaters, nor should either of these things be left unattended.

Minimize the risk of falling. Remove the risk of tripping or slipping by keeping floors dry and clear of clutter. Items such as kids' toys should be kept off of and away from the stairs to avoid serious injury. Secure throw rugs with slip-resistant backings to prevent them from sliding when walked on. Installing night lights in hallways and keeping the rooms well-lit while awake at night are also ways to keep people safe from falls.

Emphasize child safety. To keep children safe, store cleaning, laundry, and other chemicals in high or locked cabinets. Medications should also be stored in locked medicine cabinets and not on countertops. In homes with small children, use outlet covers over electrical outlets and secure heavy items, such as televisions, that could be tipped over onto the floor. Remove strangulation risks by moving hanging cords such as those attached to window blinds high enough to escape the reach of children.