As an adult and parent, you’re aware of and practice basic home safety. You close your windows at night; you store poisonous chemicals in a secure spot; you have heavy-duty doors, door frames and deadbolts; you installed smoke detectors in every bedroom, in the kitchen, and on every floor of your home. You are responsible.
But in the home safety and security game, there are many things that are easy to overlook. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 7 home safety tips to help you evaluate your security measures. If you find something wanting, don’t panic; just take the proper steps to tie up loose ends.
1. Teach your kids about “stranger danger”
While it’s important to teach your children courtesy and politeness, they should also know that they should never, ever speak to strangers when they are alone. Teach this in a non-alarmist way – you don’t need to scare them into submission, just establish basic rules and follow them yourself. (Lead by example.) For example, tell your children that they should never open the door to strangers and should always ask a visitor to identify him or herself. Whenever the doorbell rings, make sure to get a verbal ID before opening the door. If you make something regular practice, your kids will, too.
2. Everyone should know how to arm – but not disarm – the burglar alarm
Your home alarm is one of the best tools in your burglar prevention arsenal, so make sure everyone in your family knows how to arm the system. On the flip side however, don’t teach very young kids the alarm code. The general rule of thumb is, if they’re not old enough to stay home alone, then they don’t need to know your code. Even if you trust your little ones, remember that they are innocent and may accidentally let slip to someone who shouldn’t have the deactivation code.
3. Prevention is the best medicine
You know that you should install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors placed throughout your home; you know that you should establish an emergency escape route; you know that you should have several fire extinguishers; you know… well, you know. But part of preventing emergencies is maintenance: check smoke alarm batteries regularly; practice your emergency escape route; and monitor the extinguisher pressure and supplies.
4. Childproof, no matter you kids’ ages
Childproofing is much more than installing cabinet locks to prevent babies from breaking in to your liquor stash: it’s about creating a safe environment for kids of all ages. For toddlers, install cordless blinds or curtains throughout your home to prevent choking. With young children, make sure you have non-slip rugs in the bathroom. For pre-teens, you may want to install parental controls on the computer. You know your children best, so you know best how to equip your home to prevent accidents and other dangers.
5. Safe stash your valuables
A fireproof safe can help keep your valuables secure during an emergency or a home invasion. While you’ll want to store precious jewelry or cash in the safe, you should also use it to store the deed to your home, wills, and any other important documents you’d want to survive a fire, flood, or other disaster.
6. Close the garage door
Garage doors are an open invitation to petty thieves and serious burglars alike. Even when you’re home, don’t leave the garage door open – it provides too easy a view into your home and belongings. When you’re away, even if you’ve made efforts to create the illusion of being home, take the extra precaution of disabling your garage door. To do so, either disconnect it from the automatic opener or lock the mechanism into place (with an actual padlock).
7. Establish a Neighborhood Watch
Did you know that nosy neighbors help prevent home invasions? Make friends with the families on your street. Encourage checking in on each other. You can even formalize arrangements with a Neighborhood Watch program. But whether formal or informal, promise each other to be vigilant: Don’t ignore wailing alarms; keep an eye on strangers wandering through the neighborhood; and notify each other of suspicious behavior. And call the police if you notice something fishy. It’s better to be safe than sorry.