Five Steps to a Safer Home
Protect the House
Start at the foundation with the house itself. You’ve put money into keeping it pleasant and beautiful, so keep it protected!
Homeowners insurance is absolutely worth the money you’ll spend to protect your home from fire, flood, burglary, or that random teen who somehow manages to accidentally drive through your living room. Allstate’s “Mayhem” commercials may be amusing, but they’re not making this stuff up (my own sister was that teen). That’s why they work—we’ve all heard that freak story about a friend who had some random accident that ruined their home and cost a lot of money to repair. Better save yourself the pain and plan for the weird stuff by getting insured.
You should also purchase an alarm system and security service from a reputable home security company. This will not only reduce the cost of that homeowners insurance, but protect your home from many common threats—burglary, fire, invasion, etc.—as well.
Keep It Clean
A clean yard is one sign that potential burglars will know you take pride in your home and are invested enough that you’ll take care of it; a trim yard says “it is defended” more so than a messy yard filled with weeds and scraps of old projects. Keep repairs in the garage where they belong and be sure to keep the yard looking healthy and groomed, and show mastery over the plants to convey mastery of your home security.
Beyond the message that you’ve invested in your home, a clean yard can be a safety feature. Make sure all windows and pathways are clean from plants and debris with clear lines of sight: this will make potential intruders easier to spot (aside from contributing to outdoor cleanliness and natural sunlight getting into the house).
Protect Your Things
Again, homeowners insurance will protect many of your belongings, but some premium items may need to be specially insured, such as art or other collections, guns, or other valuable things.
Of course, some things can’t be insured. For example, great-grandma Jeanette’s antique pearl necklace that went through half the speakeasies in Miami just can’t be replaced. For valuables like family heirlooms, important documents, and irreplaceable treasures, buy wall safes. Buy the highest grade of safe you can afford: the higher the grade, the greater protected your irreplaceable things are form fire damage (some are practically fireproof) or theft.
Use Your Eyes
Aside from being a nice break from working for fresh air, getting out in the middle of the day and taking a walk around to survey your house is an excellent safety procedure. Here you can check for possible repairs needed and signs of intruders, such as odd or large paint chips, mysterious footprints, or other things that are out of place (you’ll be able to see these things easier the cleaner you keep your yard).
Whether you’re outside or surveying the neighborhood from your windows (and we all do it), keep a vigilant eye for persons who don’t belong in the neighborhood. This could be anyone from vagrants on foot to anyone who is in a car waiting and seems to not feel right or wait for too long. If you do see someone suspicious lurking on your street, call your local police department (not 911, use the precinct phone number and keep it with the other emergency numbers) and let them know. It’s their job to keep an eye out, even if they do no more than send a plainclothesman or two to check it out, because it’s better to be safe than sorry in a situation like that.
If the suspicious person seems to be hanging out close to one of your neighbors’ homes, call and ask them about it. Use the phrase “car I didn’t recognize” to avoid calling their relative or friend creepy-looking. Your neighbors will appreciate that you’re looking out for you and return the favor.
Be Good Neighbors
It’s good for neighbors to keep an eye out of each other. Cultivate such relationships of trust with your neighbors. It’ll do more than just make the barbeques more enjoyable; you’ll make each other’s lives and homes safer.
Beyond just noticing and reporting suspicious people lurking around the street, make a mutually beneficial to watch the house and gather mail and papers when you each go on vacation, giving each other that much more peace of mind and security.
Nina Hiatt currently lives with her husband, Bill, and she enjoys blogging about her many interests, which include gardening, ice hockey, and baking.