Home Safe Home: 8 Security Tips Every Family Needs
Home security is vitally important to families. One of the first things most families research when considering buying or building a new home is the safety of the area. What are the crime rates like? Where are the fire and police departments located? What kind of reputation does the community have as far as being safe for families and kids?
The security questions shouldn’t stop at the community level. Homeowners need to consider the safety and security of their house, too. Just because a community is considered safe doesn't mean criminals won't target it.
According to Chris McGoey, a certified safety professional and certified protection professional, burglars look for an easy target: "Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process. The burglar’s selection process is simple … choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes."
Homeowners can use any of the following eight actions to improve their home’s security and protect their family’s safety.
1. Secure Windows and Doors. One of the simplest ways to improve your home’s security is to lock your windows and doors! According to a survey conducted by Nationwide Insurance, most burglars enter a home through the front door and nearly 25 percent of survey respondents admitted to leaving doors and windows unlocked when they were not at home. As far as an easy target goes, it doesn’t get much easier than that!
2. Meet the Neighbors. Getting to know your neighbors is a great way to build an all-around safer neighborhood. Neighbors who are at least friendly with one another, if not friends, tend to look out for each other. Your neighbors will notice if someone suspicious has been around your home and can help keep an eye on the home when you’re away by shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, keeping the plants watered and generally helping the property look lived-in and not empty. Neighbors also make a better choice for stashing extra keys than hiding the keys in a flowerpot.
3. Identify Resources and Create a Plan. It's important for families with children, especially if the kids will be coming home to an empty house after school, to have identified safe resources shortly after they move in. Kids should have access to a phone; a list of emergency phone numbers; and a trusted friend, family member or neighbor, and know what to do if they encounter an emergency situation in the home. You should establish rules for opening the door for strangers, having friends over, locking windows and doors, and using the alarm system, if you have one. You should also have an emergency exit plan if there is a fire or break-in while the family or child is home.
4. Maintain Privacy. Simple actions like using blinds or curtains on the windows can turn burglars off because they can’t see what’s inside. They don’t know if a break-in will be worth the time and risk involved or what they’ll find when they get inside. Preventing people from seeing inside the home hides valuables from prying eyes and makes it more difficult to tell whether or not someone is home.
5. Use Timers and Lights. Burglars will always go for the house that looks vacant as opposed to one that looks lived in. Use timers and lights to your advantage, especially when you're out of town. Timers can be used to turn the lights, the TV or the radio on and off to give the appearance that someone is home even when they’re not. Exterior lighting should be used in the front and back of the home to eliminate dark areas where burglars could hide. Motion sensors can prevent lights being on all night and provide an element of surprise if someone is moving around on your property.
6. Be Wary of Strangers. “Stranger danger” is advice you should never grow out of. It can be very easy as a homeowner to think nothing of letting service people into the home or even to allow contractors to work on the home while you’re at work, but be careful with this. Only allow service providers whom you have contacted and set an appointment with into your home. Show them to the area they need to see and that's it. Avoid showing off your new home by offering a tour. When moving into a new home, schedule all service appointments before you actually move in to avoid having strangers catch a glimpse of your valuables.
7. Get the Kids a Dog. Have the kids been asking for a dog? Give in and get them one. Dogs are an incredibly effective burglar deterrent. Remember, burglars want to get in and out quickly without drawing attention to themselves. A dog isn’t going to let that happen. They’ll let you know when something unusual is going on outside or if a stranger is at the door. Even small dogs can be an effective deterrent due to their tendency to be barkers.
8. Consider a Home Security System. Home security systems may not prevent a burglar from gaining entry but the alarm may scare them off before they can take anything. Security systems also provide you with an alert that your home has been breached and trigger a call to the police, which may minimize the amount of loss you experience from a burglary. Many of today’s systems can even provide you with alerts when your kids get home from school or when a door has been left unlocked so you can keep tabs on your family’s safety from afar.
When choosing a home security system, Keith Brandon, the director of Residential Access Solutions for Kwikset, advises, "Consider your current lifestyle and the needs of your family when choosing any home security system."
Prevention Is the Name of the Game
Prevention is the best way to improve the safety of your home. Fortunately, there are a number of simple, small steps you and your family can take to make your home more secure and to discourage burglars from making an attempt to break in. Take a good look around your new home to look for areas of vulnerability and then take action to improve your home’s safety. Once you do, you can rest easy knowing you’ve done what you can to create a home safe home.
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