Congratulations on your new home! While there are many things you’ll need to buy during the move-in process, stay sane by starting with the essentials: the home security items that keep your household safe and sound. Even if you’ve been living on your own for a long time, many of these objects might be things you seldom consider, especially if you’ve always rented or if you haven’t moved in a while. Stock your house according to our new home security checklist and not only will you have safety necessities covered, but you will also be well prepared in the event of an emergency.
Home security checklist
This list addresses the products that keep your new home and property secure. Many of these items will be new considerations for first time homeowners.
- Secure, updated locks: Replace, repair, or supplement any locks that don’t function properly. Deadbolts (the type of locks that are separate from the doorknob) are recommended for all exterior doors since they are harder to break than other styles of locks. For maximum assurance, have pre-existing locks rekeyed. Move-in is also a great time to install a smart lock or a video doorbell, which respectively improve your ability to control and monitor visitors like movers, maintenance people and unfamiliar new neighbors.
- Functional windows: Check to see if any of your windows have broken locks, or if they can easily be forced open. Many first-time homeowners think they need to completely replace a window with a faulty locking mechanism, but it’s actually possible to buy and install replacement locks. You can also add window bars in highly vulnerable areas, like a basement, or insert metal rods in the tracks of sliding windows to make them harder to shimmy open.
- Extra keys: Make enough key copies for each independent household member, plus extra(s) to be held by someone you trust in the event of an emergency or lockout.
- Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors: Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are the first line of defense against some of the most dangerous and destructive household incidents. They’re also required for most home insurance policies. For help with your purchasing decisions, start with our guides to the best smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Safe: You need a place to keep valuables and documents like passports, birth certificates, property titles, deeds and more. Choose a safe that’s fireproof, waterproof, and tough to carry away or tamper with, i.e. heavy, easy to hide, and anchorable into the wall or floor.
- Home security systems: An all-inclusive home security system is the best way to monitor and respond to security breaches in real time. The most thorough and convenient-to-use systems include features like surveillance cameras, motion sensors, glass break detectors, integration with home automation devices and remote access via smartphone or laptop, as well as 24/7 professional monitoring. If you’re not interested in professional installation, there are plenty of scalable DIY options.
- Window covers & privacy protection: These items might seem like a home decor decision, but they’re also a safety consideration. Window treatments shield your family and valuables from prying eyes. Buy blinds, curtains and/or shades for bedrooms, bathrooms and any common areas that can be seen into from the outside.
- Lighting: The right lighting prevents everyday accidents by illuminating those unfamiliar parts of your new home. It also gives the impression that the home is occupied, even when it’s not. Make sure there are working lights where you need them, including those dark stairways, hallways and exterior doors. Motion detector lights and smart light bulbs that can be automated are great options for deterring potential break-ins.
Personal safety checklist
This list covers everything you need to respond to common emergencies in your new home. These items that keep you and your family as safe and healthy as possible.
- First aid kit: A thorough first aid kit goes beyond simple wound and burn care items like bandages and antiseptic/antibiotic agents. Make a shopping trip for gloves, assorted over-the-counter medications and a thermometer, or opt for an all-in-one kit. Also, make sure to have backups of any specialty medical items relevant to the health needs in your home, for example, an inhaler for asthma sufferers or an epinephrine auto-injector pen for people with severe allergies.
- Emergency preparedness kit: Have a supply of items ready in case you need to go without power or other utilities. Basic emergency preparedness supplies include flashlight(s), plenty of batteries and long-burning candles with matches or lighters. You may also consider building a stock of non-perishable foods and bottled water. Some households also choose to keep a backup electric generator on hand. Pay attention to extreme weather predictions and amp up your kit accordingly.
- Fire extinguisher(s): Fire extinguishers that spray dry chemicals, not water, are recommended for home use because they are effective against grease fires and small electrical fires. Water extinguishers actually make these common types of fires worse. Many experts recommend purchasing at least two multipurpose dry chemical fire extinguishers﹘one to keep in your kitchen and one that’s easily accessible to your dryer (where many household fires occur) and/or garage.
- Child and pet safety: Specific needs vary according to your home, neighborhood and family size. If your household has young children, make sure you have baby gates and baby proofing supplies for your new home, in addition to any nursery items like cribs and baby monitors. Similarly, you might want to look into pet gates and monitors for your furry family members if your new home comes with new security concerns, like a lack of fencing or construction areas in the home or yard.
Remember, even the best devices need occasional battery changes and other regular maintenance in order to function properly. As your household grows and changes, so will your safety needs. Once you’ve moved into your new house and covered all of your basic security needs, remember to periodically revisit this list and re-assess your preparedness.