Home safety and security is one of the most important concerns of families today. Crime, fires, and accidents may threaten a home’s security at any time. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. By preparing and taking a few precautions, it may be possible to avoid disaster.
Working locks are an important part of keeping unwanted visitors out of the home. Modern locks come with a variety of locking features. Key pads, deadbolts, key locks, and card reader locks are all types that may be used in a home, garage or business. Always change the locks after moving into a new home and never hide a key outside. If there are young children in the home, be sure the locks are installed high up on the door and out of reach. Always lock the doors when leaving.
- Locks and Keys: Description of different types of locks and keys.
- Doors and Locks: Important safety measures homeowners can take to protect themselves.
Smoke and carbon dioxide alarms should be installed and in working order in every home. The risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half when a working smoke alarm is in use. A smoke alarm should be installed on each level. A malfunctioning furnace, fireplace, cooking, or heating appliance may cause deadly carbon dioxide to be released in a home. A carbon dioxide alarm alerts residents when carbon dioxide is detected. Both types of alarms should be tested monthly and batteries replaced yearly.
- How Many Alarms are Needed?: How many smoke alarms to install and the best places to install them.
- Carbon Monoxide: Explains how carbon monoxide may enter a home, discusses alarms, and includes tips on where to install them.
More burglars enter homes through windows than through doors. Windows that are left open and/or unlocked are an open invitation. Windows should be closed and locked before leaving or sleeping. Locks should be installed if needed. There are key locks available for windows that work alongside the typical window lock.
- Windows: A nice list of tips to make home windows safer.
- Don’t Give Burglars a Helping Hand: Ways to keep a home safe, includes window security.
Doors can be vulnerable to intruders in a number of ways. Weak locks can be broken, hollow doors shatter easily, sliding glass doors can be pushed aside — these are just a few ways doors provide an easy entry for a criminal. Entry doors should be solid or metal plated. Doors should fit tightly into their frames. Sliding glass doors should be secured so they cannot be pushed aside or removed from the track.
- Home Security Tips: Explains door and general home security.
- Minimum Residential Security Recommendations: Describes types of doors and locks and outlines which type to use in various parts of the home.
Proper lighting both inside and outside the home is an essential safety measure. Outdoor lighting that brightens walkways, window, and door areas not only increases physical safety, it deters potential intruders. Criminals target homes that look as if no one is inside. Using timers on indoor lights creates the illusion that someone is home, further discouraging burglars.
- Exterior and Interior Lighting: Tips on types of lighting to use and where to place lights.
- Preventing Theft: Tips on preventing thieves from entering your home — includes the proper use of lighting.
Trees and shrubs around the home should not be allowed to cover windows or doorways. Use outdoor lighting on areas with dense vegetation or tree cover. Keep trees and bushes near windows trimmed. Tree limbs should be cut back so intruders cannot climb on them and enter a home through an upper level.
- Security Tips: Outlines an array of security tips, including how to maintain trees and bushes.
- Crime Prevention: How to make a home safer — includes tips on making a landscape less welcoming for intruders.
Faulty electrical wire is a leading cause of fire in the United States. Overloaded circuits, improper use of extension cords, and incorrect placement of space heaters may all cause a fire. Caution should be observed when using any electrical product. Never use an appliance with a frayed cord. Use child protective caps on outlets when young children are present.
- A Fact Sheet on Home Electrical Fire Prevention: Facts about using electrical appliances safely and other measures to reduce the chance of a fire.
- Home Electrical Safety Checklist: A checklist to assist homeowners in ensuring their homes are safe.
Safeguard Your Identity
As technology has gotten more sophisticated, so have identity thieves. By sifting through garbage or stealing from a mailbox, an identity thief can extract all the information he needs to steal from personal bank accounts, use credit cards, and even commit crimes using another person’s identity. Little things such as shredding papers with identifying information and bringing the mail in every day can help prevent identity theft.
- Identity Theft: Tips on avoiding identity theft.
- Identity Theft Quiz: How to avoid identity theft and what to do to reduce the risk.
Home Security Systems
A home security system sounds an alarm and alerts a central monitoring station when an intruder has entered or attempted to enter the home. The central station then contacts police. In addition to the basic services, many systems also offer smoke detectors, panic buttons, glass breaking detectors, security cameras, and other features to offer homeowners complete protection all from one system. An added benefit is that installing a home security system may result in a discount on the homeowner’s insurance policy.