Having a home that is both safe and secure is something we all deserve. But security is no accident.
The steps we take to make our homes safer and more secure determines the reality in which we live.
Therefore, knowing how to improve security is paramount to creating a safe home.
Below is a list of home security tips that you can utilize in your home. We have divided them into three categories:
- Burglary & Property Crimes,
- Fire & Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Identity Theft & Digital Security.
Burglary and Property Crimes
1. Install heavy-duty deadbolt locks on all first-floor doors. Double-keyed locks are best. Also, install heavy-duty window locks purchased from your local DIY or security store. Window locks let you keep your windows cracked for fresh air without allowing them to be opened all the way.
2. Install a smart video doorbell for maximum security. A smart video doorbell makes it possible for you to know who is at your door without having to open it. You can answer the doorbell from anywhere, even if you are not home. All you need is a mobile device and an Internet connection.
3. Keep your doors locked at all times. Believe it or not, most home burglaries occur during the daylight hours when criminals assume families are away at work and/or school. Protecting yourself means keeping your doors locked at all times – even when there is someone home. This is especially important when children are home alone.
4. Keep the front of your home clear. Landscaping design should be such that nothing blocks the view of your front door and first-floor windows from the street. If you have shrubs in front of the house, keep them well trimmed. Any ornamental trees should also be pruned seasonally so that they do not block a clear view of the front of your house.
5. Consider where you store your valuables. Burglars are smart enough to know the items most valuable to them are found in the master bedroom. This includes cash, jewelry, credit cards and small electronics. You can make life harder for burglars by not storing such valuables in the master suite. If you must, use a wall or in-floor safe.
6. Keep your cars locked. Almost all items stolen from cars are taken from vehicles that are left unlocked overnight. The simple act of keeping your car doors locked drastically increases the likelihood that thieves will pass on your vehicles in favor of other cars in the neighborhood that are not locked.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
1. Install smoke alarms. Every home in America should have at least one smoke alarm installed in the area of the house where most of the bedrooms are located. Multiple smoke alarms are even better. Studies have shown that working smoke alarms significantly reduce the chances of serious injury or death in the event of a house fire.
2. Install carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as smoke detectors. Remember that carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. Just a small leak in your home could result in serious injury or death without occupants ever knowing what is happening to them.
3. Never leave the stove unattended. Cooking accidents are responsible for causing about 9% of all the house fires in America. Whenever cooking something on the stovetop, be sure to remain in the kitchen and paying attention. Under no circumstances should you ever leave an active stove unattended. Be especially careful when cooking with hot oil or other flammable substances.
4. Minimize extension cord use. Improper use of extension cords and other electrical distribution devices account for 11% of house fires. Such devices are intended only for temporary, short-term use. If you are using any kind of electrical distribution device on a permanent basis, have an electrician come in and modify your existing wiring to eliminate the need for doing so.
5. Only use grills outdoors. Both charcoal and gas grills generate noxious fumes that can kill. Never use a grill in a confined area – this includes indoors and in your garage. Grills should only be used in open, outdoor areas where fumes can freely and safely dissipate.
6. Only use generators outdoors. Gasoline and diesel generators are just as dangerous as gas and charcoal grills when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning. When using a generator, make sure it is fully outdoors and in an area where air can flow freely. This reduces the risk of both carbon monoxide poisoning and structure fires.
Identity Theft and Digital Security
1. Encrypt your network. If you use a home wi-fi network, make sure that this network is encrypted by making the proper modifications to your router software. If you don’t know how to do it, contact your internet service provider for help. Consumers using a third-party router can consult their user manuals for instructions on how to change encryption settings.
2. Protect your information. Never, ever give out personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers over the phone – unless you are absolutely sure of who it is you are communicating with. The same goes for unknown sales representatives who might appear at your door.
3. Guard against e-mail scams. Never respond to e-mail requests for personal information either. If you get what seems to be a solicitation for personal information from a company or financial institution you deal with regularly, make a phone call and verify the need for the information requested. You can then give an authorized representative whatever the company or financial institution requires.
4. Keep your plans private. Protect your privacy by not being overly generous with what you share on social media. For example, do not broadcast to the world that you are enjoying a dream vacation in Cancun. Doing so tells criminals that your home may be an open target.
5. Do not leave mail in the mailbox. Outgoing mail should never be left in the mailbox for your carrier to take. Instead, take your mail directly to the post office or a secured drop box in a busy, well-lit public location. This will reduce the risk of identity thieves stealing your mail and any information it contains.
6. Shred your documents. Prior to discarding any documents in your recycling or trash bins, shred them with a cross-cut shredder. This includes mail that may contain sensitive information. Keep in mind that identity thieves need only your name, address, and one more critical piece of information to steal your identity.