When you settled on your new home, you were probably swayed by factors like the way it looked, its location, the price or rent, and how much space it had. And those are all important considerations. But home safety is, too.
How much time did you spend determining how safe your new home was before you moved in? Granted, when you viewed the place, the owner, realtor, or landlord had to either let you in or give you a key, so you probably assumed the locks were in good shape. And, let’s face it, very few of us think to examine window locks when we’re looking at a place. Also, since most viewings take place during the day, we’re not going to notice—or probably even think to ask—how well-lit the outside of the home is at night.
Now that you’re all moved in, however, it’s a good time to give your new home a safety check.
A burglary is committed somewhere in the United States every 15 seconds. If your home is burglarized, not only will you lose some of your possessions, you will also lose your sense of security, as well.
While burglary is one of the most common crimes in the country, it is also one of the easiest to prevent.
Consider this home safety checklist:
Get new locks.
While your existing locks might appear to be in working order, they could be old, cheap, or less than secure. Locks are already the weakest point on a door, so it’s important to have the strongest locks possible. Make sure to install a grade 1 or grade 2 deadbolt lock that penetrates the door frame, as well as a heavy-duty strike plate—the fixed piece where the bolt enters—made of solid metal or brass, and mounted with six, three-inch-long screws that go all the way through the door jamb and door frame.
Locks and strike plates can be purchased at your local hardware store or installed by a locksmith. If you hire a locksmith, make sure you hire a well-established one who is both bonded and insured.
Secure your windows.
Check your windows. Do the locks work? If not, fix them or replace them. Aftermarket window locks allow you to open the window a few inches while still keeping it secure, and window stops keep your windows from being opened more than 6 inches. (If you install window stops, make sure everybody in the house knows how to remove them in the case of an emergency.)
You can also make all of your windows stronger and your home safer by coating them with impact-resistant film, and any glass that is closer than 42 inches to a door lock should be reinforced with invisible security film in order to prevent burglars from breaking the glass and reaching in to open the door.
If you can afford to install a home security system, make sure your windows are connected to it. You can also save money by purchasing and installing less-costly window-break alarms instead.
Note: If an unscrupulous repairman or other unknown visitor uses your bathroom, he or she may unlatch the window in order to gain entry later. Be sure to double-check the lock after the visit.
Light up the place.
Buy and install outdoor lighting with infrared motion sensors near each point of entry. Find and replace any burned-out bulbs, and put your porch lights on timers.
If you have to go out of town or otherwise leave your home for an extended period of time, use automatic timers to create a “someone’s at home” look. Consider timers with multiple on/off cycles, as well as one with battery backups. You can also leave your TV on or purchase and use Fake TV, which simulates a TV’s flickering light.
Consider installing a security system.
While home security alarms can be pricey—and don’t guarantee that intruders will not enter your home—they are effective in helping authorities identify and catch anyone who does try to break in.
With that said, if it’s obvious that your home has an alarm system, burglars may look elsewhere. Be sure to prominently display any yard signs and window decals that come with your system.
Note: You can benefit from displaying signs and/or decals even if you don’t have a system installed.
Get to know your neighbors.
In addition to the above home safety measures, your neighbors can also serve as a great home safety resource. Get to know them so you can get in the habit of looking out for each other—especially when either of you is out of town.
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