One of the biggest enemies of home security is thinking “It won’t happen to me” Although we all know that prevention is important, most people don’t take the steps they need to protect their home and family. Whether it’s installing a monitored home security system, or just being able to identify potential risks of hidden dangers, such as fire and carbon monoxide throughout your home, these precautions can help create a safer environment to live in.
So what can you do better to protect your home and family from fire, break-ins or medical emergencies?
The first step to keeping unwelcome visitors out is to protect the entrances to your home.
A locked front door is your first line of defense. And with locks, you get what you pay for. By spending a few dollars more for a good lock, you can potentially save thousands. So get the best quality locks you can afford. We recommend deadbolt locks. Deadbolts provide better security than sliding locks because they can’t be opened without a key. Bored-in deadlocks that are embedded into the door are even harder for a burglar to get through.
Without a deadlock, burglars may be able to open your front door simply by using a credit card to push back the tongue of the lock. Doors with exposed hinges are even more vulnerable because a burglar can simply remove the pin on the hinge and get inside.
Locks are just the beginning. Another good investment is a peephole. 180-degree peepholes give you the advantage of checking to see who’s at the door before you open it. And make sure that the area outside your door is well-lit. If you can’t see who’s at the door, don’t open it.
If you’ve just moved into your new home, it’s a good idea to replace all the locks. Locks only provide security if you know who has every key. Pay for a qualified and reputable locksmith to change your locks. And keep track of all the keys you have made. This is especially important if there have been a lot of previous owners. The only keys to your new home should be the ones you have made.
To help prevent burglars from getting into your home through a window, install locks or pins. We recommend using the same brand of lock for all your windows so it’s easy and convenient to use them. And that’s an important point, because when safety and convenience are at odds, convenience usually wins. Make sure to keep the key in a safe but easy-to-access location so you can get to it quickly if there’s a fire.
Also keep any trees or shrubs around windows trimmed. While they may seem to increase your privacy, they also increase a burglar’s privacy while they’re breaking into your home.
Two of a burglar’s biggest enemies are noise and light. Installing lights around your home that are activated by movement can help scare off unwelcome visitors. Exterior sensor lights also help to light the path to your front door when you come home. It’s also a good idea to use timers to light inside areas of your home if you’re home alone or away. Setting these economical timers gives the appearance that someone is at home, and is a good way to make sure you’re consistently protected.
A security system is your best protection. There are two main types of security systems available: a local alarm and a monitored system. Local alarms are designed to make a lot of noise to help scare off a potential intruder.
A fully monitored system doesn’t just make a lot of noise, it sends an emergency signal to a monitoring center so that the right people can respond in case of an emergency. Another benefit of having a monitored home security system is that it may qualify you for up to a 20% discount on your homeowner’s insurance.
Here’s a list of things to think about when considering monitored alarm systems:
- Is the system easy to use?
- Does the system come with a maintenance plan to cover parts and service?
- Does the system have a rechargeable backup battery?
- Is the system connected to a UL-Listed, 24-hour monitoring center?
- Who does the monitoring, and what is their experience and reputation?
- Can the system help protect you against fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, household flooding and other dangers, as well as burglary?
In addition to protecting your home against break-ins and intruders, you can also take some simple precautions to help prevent another, and often even more devastating threat—fire.
The first step toward better fire prevention is to determine where your home’s potential hot spots are located. Hot spots are hazard areas that can start a fire. One potential hot spot can be faulty wiring. To help avoid this danger, be sure to have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician.
Another common problem is overloading your circuits. If you need more outlets, have them installed professionally.
Your kitchen has a lot of hot spots. The biggest ones are the oven and range. Always make sure your burners are off when you leave the house or go to sleep at night. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy in this area, and that all members of your household know where it is and how to use it. And of course, if you smell gas, you are advised to leave your home immediately. Once you’re in a safe location, call the gas company and alert them of the situation.
- Keep your grill away from anything flammable — including your home, shrubs and cars.
- Protect yourself with oven mitts and a heavy apron.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by never using a charcoal or gas grill inside your home or in an enclosed area.
- Don’t let small children remove or place food on the grill.
- Don’t leave an uncovered grill unattended.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Check gas grill tubes leading into the burner for any blockage from insects, food or grease.
- Prevent gas leaks by promptly replacing scratched or nicked connectors.
- Keep propane containers upright at all times.
- Keep propane containers outdoors.
Smoke alarms play an important part in fire protection. Be sure they’re working and that the batteries are always charged. Also be aware that when a smoke alarm goes off, there isn’t a lot of time to escape.
Take time to set up a fire emergency plan for your family. Making sure everyone knows exactly what to do and how to get out today could save a life tomorrow.
- Turn the telephone and answering machine volume down when you go out so burglars can’t hear that no one’s home.
- Don’t leave notes for family or friends outside your home.
- Don’t leave tools or ladders lying around your yard since impulse burglars can use them to gain access into your home.
- Install sensor lights at all outside entrances.
- Remove any shrubs or trees next to your home that could hide a potential burglar from sight.
- Install a monitored security system, and make sure all members of your household know
how to use it.
- Install deadbolt locks on your outside doors and make sure all door hinges are on the inside.
- Lock garage doors and sliding glass doors every night and whenever you are away from home.
- Don’t hide keys outside your home, such as in your mailbox, under doormats or above doorways. Burglars usually know where they are.
- If you’re planning to go away, either have your mail picked up by a trusted neighbor or have your local post office stop delivery until you get back. You’ll also want to cancel any other regular deliveries such as newspapers.
- Tell relatives or neighbors when you’ll be back and let them know where you can be reached in an emergency.
- When you buy a new appliance such as a TV or computer, destroy the box or hide it in your trash so others won’t know you have something new and valuable inside.
- Videotape, photograph and keep a written register of all your valuables and their serial numbers.
- Store valuable documents such as insurance policies and wills in a safety deposit box.
- Program emergency contact numbers into your phone memory and clearly label them so it will be easy to dial them in an emergency.
- Every six months or so, inspect your home as if you’ve been locked out without your keys. How would you get in? Examine any weak spots and realize that if you can get inside, so could someone else.
- Check to see if there’s an active Neighborhood Watch association in your community. This program helps keep you updated on problems in your neighborhood, and gets more people to help watch and protect your home and family. If there is no active Neighborhood Watch group in your community, contact your local law enforcement agency to find out how you can start one.