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Who to Put on Your Home Security Contact List

rolodexWhen you’re filling out paperwork for your job, your medical office, or your security provider, you’re typically asked to provide a contact person. We all know these people are the ones who should be called in the case of an emergency or when someone is trying to get a hold of you and can’t seem to reach you. It’s usually pretty easy to pinpoint the designated contact to put down—spouse, sibling, parent—but when it comes to filling out your contact list for your home security provider, you should give it a little more thought.

Determining Who Makes the Cut

Your home security system is intended to give you a feeling of, well… security! That being said, make your contact person someone that you can trust. If you’re married or co-occupying a space, it’ll make the most sense to put both your name and your partner or roommate’s name down. In the event of a security breach, assign one main contact for the security provider to call first. The other occupant should be contacted second. Of course, you should also consider building a list of trusted friends and family that can be contacted in the event that you and/or your roommate or partner cannot.

After the initial level of contacts—people who live in the house—consider those who live nearby. It wouldn’t make much sense to list a sibling who lives in the next state over as your emergency contact. They won’t be in range to make much of a difference should a serious security breach occur. If you have a close friend or neighbor that you can trust, they might be the best option for the next-of-line contact on your list.

Having a security breach can mean something as simple as a pet overreacting to a passing car or heavy winds setting off a sensor. When a security sensor goes off and the provider looks at the list, having someone within close range to your house to take a quick look could really make the difference in the event that something serious does happen. They can confirm whether it was a break-in or a faulty sensor.

Ask Before Giving Out Their Information

Before you put someone down on your contact list, you should talk to them about it first. Sure, if it’s somebody close to you, they’ll likely give the go-ahead; but having a discussion about it is courteous. Tell them why you’re asking for their information as a contact, and talk them through what you’d want them to do if and when your home security provider ever contacts them. If it’s a trusted neighbor, you might ask that they take a quick look around the house to gauge whether there is, in fact, a break-in occurring or if it looks like a sensor was triggered by accident.

Another reason to ask beforehand is that some folks wish to remain more private about their information and aren’t comfortable or willing to give that out to a third party. In addition, maybe a neighbor or friend might feel uncomfortable being assigned a contact person, which is totally understandable. It may give them a sense of added pressure.

Home security is a whole different ballgame than a doctor’s office. When you’re drafting your contact list, be sure to think carefully about the best people to add to the list. Talk with them beforehand so that they know, understand, and agree to be added to the list. They need to be people you depend on.

Preventing Frozen Pipes When You’re on Vacation

Untitled1Water damage is one of the most common homeowner insurance claims. Often, frozen pipes lead to leaks, which will cause all kinds of water damage in your home. If you’re on vacation during the winter and this happens, the water damage can become extremely severe as it goes unchecked for days or even weeks. While it isn’t always practical to monitor your home while you’re away, there are things you can do to help keep your home’s pipes from freezing. Here are some tips:

Check for Leaks Before You Leave

Before you leave for your vacation, do a visual inspection of your pipes. Are there any leaks or corroded areas? You might have to find the access panel to your crawlspace or poke your head around in your basement. Bring a flashlight and look for anything that looks out of place, damaged, or wet. You don’t have to be a plumber to notice a leaking pipe.

If you do see a leak or spot a place with a lot of corrosion or rust, contact a plumber before you leave. A visit from a plumber could save you lots of money and plenty of headaches.

Check the Hoses on Appliances

Look at the hoses on your fridge, your washing machine, and any other appliances that have a water line attached to them. The hoses can easily freeze, burst, and cause all kinds of water damage. Additionally, you’ll want to look for leaky fittings or any loose connections. If you notice any leaking or poor fittings, consider either buying new fittings or replacing the entire hose.

Leave Cupboards Open

Despite what some people believe, the space inside your cupboards is not heated. Sure, it might get some of the heat from your home, but the cupboards will shut out most of the hot air. Before you leave for your vacation, it’s a good idea to open the cupboards around the sink and let the air from the house warm the pipes.

Add Insulation to Your Pipes

One way to help keep your pipes warm is to insulate them, which can be purchased at your local hardware store. If you don’t feel like crawling around in your crawlspace or working in your basement, you should be able to hire someone to add insulation to your pipes for you.

Reach Out to a Friend

One of the best ways to help ensure that your home is safe is to have a friend stop by while you’re on vacation. While they’re there, they can check to make sure the pipes aren’t frozen and that the rest of your house is still safe and locked up. Having a friend stop by is also a good idea because if something does go wrong, they will be able to notify you and do something about it before the damage gets to be too much.

Turn Off Your Water

Although you don’t have to do this for a weekend getaway, it might not be a bad idea to turn off your water at the main and drain your pipes of water. This doesn’t take very long, and will help ensure that no matter how cold it gets, you won’t have any problems with your pipes freezing. If you choose to turn off the water to your house, make sure that all of the water is drained from the pipes. Turn on all faucets and hoses and let all the water that’s currently in the pipes drain out.

Have Your Sump Pump Checked

If you choose not to turn off your water while you’re gone, you need to have your sump pump checked before you leave. The sump pump is designed to pump water out of the basement or crawlspace of your home. If there is a leak somewhere in your house, it’s probable that the water will collect in one of those places. A properly functioning sump pump will keep your basement from filling with water and keep the water damage to a minimum.

There are many things you can do to help make sure that your pipes don’t freeze and that your home is safe and secure while you’re away on your winter vacation. If you make an effort before you leave to take care of your pipes, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Finding a Reliable Carbon Monoxide Detector

carbon monoxide detectorCarbon monoxide is a known killer. While you might have a simple carbon monoxide detector plugged into a wall somewhere in your home, it’s important that you actually know what carbon monoxide is, where it comes from, and how to find the best detector for it.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide has no smell, consistency, or visual properties at all. It can creep into your body unnoticed and replace the oxygen, which ultimately suffocates your vital organs. In most cases, people pass out during carbon monoxide poisoning before anything very noticeable occurs. But symptoms can include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain. If you are in an indoor space and you begin to feel these symptoms come seemingly out of nowhere, move outside into fresh air and call 911 immediately.

Where Does It Come From?

Carbon monoxide is a relatively common gas that results from the incomplete burning of natural gas, such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. If you have a gas furnace or gas-powered kitchen appliances, you should always be on the lookout for any leaks. Furnaces and appliances are the most common culprits when it comes to carbon monoxide leaks or poisoning in a home or apartment. Most modern homes and apartment buildings rely on electric heating and appliances, so you have less to worry about if you live in one of them. However, some older homes and apartments still use gas lines and appliances in the home.

Finding the Right Detector

Regardless of whether your home has gas appliances & heating or electric, increased carbon monoxide levels should still be a concern. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home will help ensure your air quality is constantly monitored and that you will be alerted to any changes. Even if you live in a home heated by an electric furnace and full of electric appliances, you should install a carbon monoxide detector. Leaks from gas mains can compromise your home and your family — even if your house isn’t connected to them.

Look for detectors that plug into and are powered by wall outlets. Place these throughout your home: living room, kitchen and bedrooms. These will operate properly through their life cycle, which usually lasts between four to five years or so. If you decide to purchase and use this kind of detector, make sure it has an “end of life” alert function that will let you know when the device itself is on its last leg. Make sure you check on it from time to time just to make sure it’s working, as it should.

When your home does use a gas stove and/or furnace, installing heavier-duty carbon monoxide detectors can mean the difference between silently falling victim and getting out to safe, fresh air. This means taking extra measures to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are high functioning and kept up-to-date. We suggest placing multiple detectors in the main rooms of the house including: the kitchen, the living room, bedrooms, and close to any gas outlets. The best detectors will have a display that can read levels of carbon monoxide in the air, have test buttons, and more.

Some carbon monoxide detectors rely on batteries to operate. These probably aren’t always your best option, since batteries do die, and you may forget to replace them. In that case, you and your family are at risk. It’s better to invest in higher quality detectors that you can count on to alert you to anything that’s amiss.

Carbon monoxide is nothing to fool around with. Don’t forgo detectors in a bid to save money or because you simply can’t be bothered. Look for detectors that fit your home and that offer easy-to-read features that will tell you about the carbon monoxide levels in the air.

5 Easy Ways to Create a Cleaning Schedule

mopWhether you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been paying a mortgage for twenty years, household maintenance is a regular part of life. Long-time homeowners likely have a maintenance schedule in mind, be it stored in spreadsheets or memory banks; but new homeowners could use a leg up on plotting out what to do in their homes and when to do it. Below, you’ll find tips and tricks to help you organize your cleaning and maintenance schedule so that you can preserve and improve the look of your home while creating a comfortable environment for you and your family.

1. What Season Is Coming Up?

Many homes require certain changes or preparations for the changing seasons. For example, you may need to assess the insulation on your water pipes and add more if it’s old and crumbling. Without insulation, you run the risk of ending up with frozen or burst pipes – and fixing such issues costs far more than the time and investment of insulation. To remember what maintenance needs to be done, think about the next season that’s approaching and begin making necessary changes and performing regular upkeep. Other common seasonal tasks include washing windows, checking insulation in the attic, sealing windows in plastic, caulking up any holes or seams where air may escape, and switching out your HVAC filter.

2. Create Lists

Creating lists makes it easy for you to remember tasks — especially if you divide the lists into seasons to match up with the ideas in the last section. For each season, draft up a list of regular maintenance tasks as well as things you’d like to get done (like repaint the living room). This will give you a clear-cut plan of action throughout the year for keeping up with everything.

3. Keep a Detailed Spreadsheet of Dates

By this, we simply mean to keep a spreadsheet where you can log when you’ve performed maintenance and have replaced certain parts of various household features. Enter things like when you’ve changed the HVAC filter and when it will be up for another replacement. Include other things like when you last had the chimney and fireplace inspected—if applicable—the carpets professionally deep cleaned, or the batteries changed in the smoke detectors. This allows you to track what you do each year and will remind you when to perform that task again.

4. Delegating Tasks Out Among Everyone

Big or small, there’s almost always a lot to do in any house. Keeping on top of everything and remembering what needs to be done can be tricky. Don’t try to tackle everything yourself. Instead: divide and conquer. Take some time, and draft up a list of common household maintenance tasks, and then begin to divvy it up among your family. Give some lighter, easier things to the kids (think unloading the dishwasher and dusting), and leave the big maintenance tasks to the adults. By delegating tasks this way, each person is responsible for a set amount of chores and maintenance, thereby lessening the amount of things that each person needs to remember.

5. Defining Standards

Whether you like it or not, everyone has their own standards for cleaning and maintenance. While one person will wipe down kitchen counters and sweep the floor once a day, another may be satisfied with wiping things down once a week. Everyone has different standards for different reasons. Now, you might disagree on what clean looks like, but you should define standards for cleanliness and household maintenance as a group to make sure that everyone is on the same page and ready to do their tasks.

As a new homeowner, it might feel like you’re overwhelmed with all the things that require maintenance in your house. If, however, you do a bit of planning (and you stick to the plan), that maintenance should become easier with time. One of the biggest challenges regarding maintenance is simply knowing where to start. If you take the time to map out what your tasks are and how they’ll get done, you’re already in a far better spot than when you started.

4 Tips to Help Avoid Fires This Winter

ovenHouse fires are the most common during the winter months and there are reasons why. During this time of year, people use items like space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces to stay warm and cozy. Unfortunately, it’s possible that their efforts aren’t as safe as one would expect. House fires can happen when you least expect it – even when you’re relaxing with one or two candles lit. If you are aware of the dangers, you’ll be able to help prevent fires more easily. Here are some tips that will help keep you safe this winter.

Heat Your Home Safely

Heating your home when the temperature drops outside is extremely important. In an ideal world, all you would have to do is turn up the thermostat. In some cases, however, you might need to use secondary methods of heating your home such as space heaters, fireplaces, or woodstoves. While these are satisfactory ways of heating your home, such methods can be dangerous if done improperly. Here are some tips that can help you use secondary-heating sources safely and effectively:

• Space heaters should be sitting on the floor and at least three feet away from anything flammable.
• Woodstoves should be at least three feet from anything flammable, and the pipe for the smoke should be clear of any obstructions.
• Fireplaces should have a metal screen or grate to catch embers and sparks. Additionally, you should schedule an annual inspection each fall before you use it.
• Never use your oven, toaster, or any appliance to heat your home that isn’t designed to do so.

Practice Safe Cooking

While cooking is something people do year-round, it’s assumed that people eat-in more often when the weather is frigid and the roads are too slick. That said, many house fires start from a stove, oven, or other cooking appliance that’s unattended. A common cause of most house fires comes from people forgetting to turn off appliances. In fact, one of the most common occurrences is a stovetop being left on. So, before sitting down to the table, or spending time with the family, make sure you double-check that all appliances have been turned off and have cooled sufficiently. In regards to the stovetop, you might even consider running the overhead exhaust fan for a minute or two after you’ve turned everything off.

Be Conscious of Candles and Other Flames

There are few things nicer than lighting some candles (or lighting a fire in the fireplace) and relaxing on the couch with your favorite book. But like all things fire related, folks should err on the side of caution. Here are some tips for using fireplaces and candles safely:

• Have someone in the room keep a watchful eye on any open flames.
• Candles should be placed in a fireproof candleholder where it cannot be knocked or kicked over.
• Keep any open flames away from decorations, curtains, or other flammable objects.
• Before falling asleep, make sure all flames are extinguished.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors obviously cannot keep you from starting fires, but they can alert you of a firewhen it has just begun. As long as the batteries are fully charged and the smoke detector is in the room with the fire, the detector will most likely go off before the fire gets out of hand. Smoke detectors are an extremely important part of helping to keep your home safe, but it doesn’t mean you can forget about being watchful and conscious of a possible fire hazard. Here are some tips for using and maintaining smoke detectors.

• Check the batteries and test each detector every month.
• Vacuum and dust around your smoke detectors regularly.
• If the smoke detector is over ten years old, replace it.
• Try to place a smoke detector in each room of the house. If you cannot, make sure there’s one in the kitchen, one in all of the bedrooms, and one just outside of the sleeping areas of the house.

Fire safety is only a small part of helping to keep your home safe, but it is a very important part. Much like other parts of home safety and home protection, fire safety is about being observant of the things going on in and around your house. If you’re able to keep an eye out for any danger, you’ll be able to avoid many problems.

Cord Cutter Revolution: Why Wireless Home Security Systems Are the Next Big Thing

wireless routerGone are the days of wires tangled haphazardly in hidden places. Wireless is now the way to go, and the number of wires in homes has decreased significantly. Some folks remain skeptical about the wireless life, but there’s one thing that’s for certain: wireless security is the next big thing and it’s here to stay. With smartphones integrated into modern smart security systems, we’re able to take the system with us wherever we go, as long as we have a signal. Read on to learn more about wireless security systems and how they’re becoming fixtures in our daily lives:

Keeping Your Eyes on Your Kingdom

Being the ruler of your castle means having control at all times. When you install a wireless smart security system in your home, you have the ability to keep a constant eye on your home. With your surveillance cameras, you can transmit video feeds directly to your smartphone. That means being able to check in on your pets or ensure that your kids arrived home safely from school.

Control When You’re Gone

Let’s say you’re running late for a big meeting, and you forget the basics when you leave the house in the morning: turning off the lights, locking the doors, turning the thermostat down, etc. Before, you’d spend the entire day worrying about whether you turned the coffeemaker off, or if you locked the door on your way out. Now, with smartphone technology, you can open up your security app and turn off your coffeemaker, lock the door, and even turn down the thermostat. And yes, you can also control your security system. If you forgot to arm the system, open your app and arm it.

Cutting Costs, Along with the Cord

Smart home security systems often come with an app that lets you take control of your home while you’re gone — but they can do more than that. Smart systems are also designed to cut the costs of your electricity bill and utility bills. Many of these systems feature smart thermostats that sync with your smartphone, so you can control temperatures while you’re gone. This means being able to turn down your thermostat while you’re away and getting it back to a comfortable level when you’re on your way home. Some thermostats even learn your preferences and schedule after awhile, and they’ll begin adjusting temperatures automatically. This means they’ll perform efficiently and without any effort on your part.

Adapting to New Technology

Let’s face it: technology will continue to change and evolve, based partly on our desire to see it evolve and become smarter and simpler. It’s only natural, then, that home security systems will continue to offer smarter features. Some people are unnerved by the upswing in smart and wireless technology. They wonder what happens, for instance, if Wi-Fi goes out. This is a legitimate question, but home security systems can always fall back on the essentials: a good, localized system that is overseen by a trusted security provider. In order to keep up with modern advances, you’ve got to play in the modern playground.

New technologies are intended to make our daily lives easier and more streamlined. When it comes to home security systems, new technology not only allows you to keep a firmer grip on the overall security of your home, but it also allows you to control parts of your home and cut down the costs of your utility bills as well. Consider upgrading your existing system or researching a wireless, smart system for your home.

3 Ways to Fight Crime in Your Community [Infographic]

When it comes to fighting crime, it’s important for people in your community to help and trust one another. Building trust might take a bit of time (especially if it’s an area with high crime), but you would be surprised by how simple it can actually be. Sometimes the answer to a safe neighborhood means being the one to just start the discussion.

Here are 3 great ways you can start a movement within your community:

1. Reach out to the community
2. Start a Neighborhood Watch Program
3. Talk to Your Local Officials

Read on to learn how you can get started now!

3 Ways to Fight Crime In Your Community

Life Events That Drive People to Purchase Home Security

home securityThere are many people that sincerely believe they don’t need home security. That is, until something unfortunate happens to their home. While a home is certainly more secure after installing a security system, such awful scenarios may have been prevented had they installeda system sooner. It doesn’t matter where you live or how diligently you check the locks on your windows and doors since burglaries can essentially occur at any time. Waiting until something bad happens is never a good option. Here are some great reasons to be proactive and install a home security system:

Burglary in the Neighborhood

If there is a burglary in your neighborhood, take it as a sign that you should consider getting a home security system installed as soon as possible. Burglars, more often than not, will burglarize the same neighborhood more than once. So, if you hear through the grapevine about a neighbor’s house being broken into, you should get a security system installed right away.

New Home: Protect Your Investment

New residents are often the most common targets for burglary. No matter how quickly you move in, or how fast you get situated, folks on your block might see the valuables you’re bringing into the house. Even if you take extra measures to move your possessions in through the back or side door, if someone is watching (a.k.a looking for their next target) they’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s inside. Given this reason, it’s highly suggested that you invest in a security system when you move into your new place.

Protect Against a Fire

Nowadays, security systems are good for more than helping to protect against intruders. Modern security systems are also often connected to your smoke detectors. Smoke detectors should be installed in all homes regardless, but integrating them into your home security system will allow them to do their job more efficiently. When and if smoke is detected, the fire department will be alerted automatically by the system.

Protect Your Family

Single-family homes are one of the most common types of homes broken into. Why? Well, for several hours during the day, the house is generally empty since you’re likely at work and the kids are at school. That said, your house is easily susceptible to a break-in as there are no deterrents.

If a security system is installed, however, you can keep tabs on your home when you aren’t there. In the case of a break-in, security systems will often send out an alert to your smartphone and often times to the authorities as well. Regardless of whether you’re home or not, you can take comfort in knowing that there’s some sort of watchful eye.

Carbon Monoxide

You might not think you have to worry about carbon monoxide in your home, but it’s something that everyone needs to be aware of! Carbon monoxide (CO) is a dangerous gas that can kill you if it becomes too concentrated. What makes it even more dangerous is that it’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless. In the United States, it contributes to a couple thousand deaths every year. It displaces oxygen in the air, and you could essentially suffocate without ever knowing it. Even if the levels of CO are not high enough to cause death, too much CO inside your home means extremely poor air quality – which is bad for your health. A security system that includes a CO sensor can alert you (and the proper authorities) if there’s a CO leak in you home.

If you’ve never had anything go wrong or you’ve never felt unsafe in your home, it may feel difficult to justify installing a security system. However, terrible and unpredictable things can happen to you at some point. Rather than install a security system after the fact, it’s better to consider installing one now before anything does happen.

Stay Safe While You Exercise Away from Home

exerciseAny way you look at it, the popularity of running and cycling as exercise is growing across the country. Marathons, triathlons, casual runs, and bike treks are events anyone can participate in and it’s a great way to stay active and have some fun! Of course, as more and more people are running and cycling, we’re starting to see more safety awareness for runners and cyclists alike. Along with watching out for vehicular traffic, runners and cyclists also need to be aware of possible assaults if they’re in a high crime area.

Here, we’ll discuss some of the strategies and products you can use to help remain safe while you’re cycling or running in various areas. These could be key to helping keep you safe as youbegin to run and cycle more — especially in places you’re unfamiliar with.

Running & Cycling Defensively

If you remember your driving education courses, you’ll likely remember the phrase “defensive driving.” It literally means driving in a defensive way that recognizes other cars may not be driving as safely as you are. This means you need to watch for their changes in speed and direction, and adjust accordingly.

The same goes with dealing with cars while you’re on foot or on a bike. Yes, the pedestrian usually has the right away, but that doesn’t mean cars will always see you or that they’ll be driving safely. If you’re cycling on a busy street, conditions become even more dangerous. You can’t always assume that a driver can see you, and that’s why you need to do everything you can to make your presence known like: use common hand signals to indicate where you’re turning, wear bright clothes, and be aware of drivers and your level of visibility to them.

This defensive running and cycling also applies to other runners, cyclists, and pedestrians. Cyclists need to be aware of runners on popular trails, and runners need to respect cyclists as well. A great way to help keep everyone safe is to call out “on your left” or “on your right”before passing the person in front of you.

The Basics

Along with defensive biking and running, there are several items and strategies you can utilize to help remain safe while exercising. Let’s start with what to wear.

Reflective clothing is always recommended (especially at night) and you’ll want to make sure that you have a piece of reflective cloth on all different sides of you and/or your bike. Cars should be able to see you from behind, or facing forward. You might even consider adding reflective strips to your arms and your legs. There’s no such thing as too much reflective wear.

If you’re already into running or cycling, you’re likely always equipped with an iPod or mp3 player strapped to your arm. While music can be enjoyable during a workout, it can also be dangerous if played too loud. Proximity hearing is crucial to your safe exercising routine. If you can’t hear what’s going on around you, it’s very possible that you might miss a warning honk or cars that are coming up close behind you.

Next, we’re going to discuss an item that can help to fend off dangerous assailants orharassers should the scenario occur. Along with replacement laces, replacement tires, and all the water bottles and gadgets that you can find at any running or biking store, you might want to incorporate something a bit stranger into your gear list: a small can of mace spray. Hopefully you’ll never be presented with an occasion to use this, but you never know what might happen along your journey. This small, light can is a great prevention tool for those who might run into some unpleasant individuals.

Your Location

Where you decide to run or bike matters! Do you feel more comfortable cycling in a traffic-heavy area or one with more pedestrians? Are you heading out on a sidewalk or the road? What about high crime areas as opposed to relatively safe areas? These factors should change your outlook, and should help you to identify the best route before you leave the house.

At nighttime, it’s best to make your route on very well lit streets. When you plan out your route beforehand—plotting those well lit, non-busy streets—tell your spouse, significant other or roommate precisely where you’ll be. Always tell someone when and where you’ll be running or cycling as well as how far and how long. Now, the most ideal scenario is that you never bike or run alone. However, if you do choose to go alone, make sure you tell someone where you’ll be.

The bottom line is that you always need to think about your personal safety while biking and running. Many people forget about the dangers that might lie ahead of them because biking and running is inherently so simple in and of itself. Before you leave the house, take 15-minutes to really evaluate what you can and should protect. So, what can you prepare beforehand?

Conduct a Safety Inspection on Your New Home or Apartment

safety inspectionWhile you’re house hunting, it’s easy to overlook whether or not the property in question is completely secure. Of course, when it comes down to it, home security is easily one of the most important components to any home. Before you pack up all of your belongings and move in, conduct a safety inspection on your new home to make sure that everything is up to par.

Make sure entry doors are solid.

In the majority of modern homes, it’s quite typical to have hollow doors inside the house. Most entry doors to a house or apartment are solid for security purposes. But every once in a while, you might discover that a solid entry door has been replaced with a hollow one. While this doesn’t seem like it would be a major issue, hollow doors are relatively easy to break. It isn’t a very common occurrence, but you should make sure that solid security doors separate your home from the outside. If there are hollow doors, you should have them replaced immediately.

Inspect deadbolts on all entry doors.

Deadbolts to main entryways should be inspected very carefully for signs of wear and damage. Such entryways should include the front door, the back door, any side doors, and any doors leading to a garage. You should be able to slide in any corresponding keys and unlock the deadbolts with a minimum of effort. Check the deadbolt receiving side to make sure that the hole is safeguarded by a metal plate sturdily fastened to the doorframe. If there is any looseness on the deadbolt mechanism, tighten up the screws. If it seems there’s rust or any other issues with the deadbolt system, get it replaced. Luckily, deadbolts are fairly affordable, so it’s worth spending a few extra bucks to make sure you’re protected.

Check windowpanes and window frames for integrity.

Checking your windowpanes and window frames means making sure that the glass is still firmly set within the pane and that the pane itself is firmly set in the wall. If the window slides or swings open, check the locking mechanism to make sure that it is still sturdy and operating effectively. If anything is out of place, you might consider getting another locking mechanism; or, worst-case scenario, replacing the entire window.

A lot of newer window frames are made out of metal, but some are still made out of wood. If you’re in a home with wooden window frames, check the wood for any decay, rot, or holes. If there’s termite damage, the frame’s solidity and effectiveness may have been compromised.

Trim or cut down overgrown plants and shrubbery.

Trimming overgrown plants and shrubbery might seem like a strange thing to do at first, but these large plants can act as nice hiding spots for potential home intruders. When it’s dark outside, intruders will obscure themselves in tall bushes or trees; thus making it easier for them to actually sneak to your front door unseen.

Inspect any outside lighting.

When it comes to inspecting any sort of outdoor lighting, the kind of home or apartment you have doesn’t matter. If you have outdoor lighting, it’s important that all of it is working. There are two types of lights you should have: entryway and front yard/backyard lighting. Each type of lighting will help deter intruders from even walking up your home. Also, while timed lighting works well at night, you might consider installing motion-activated lights that will trigger in the event someone steps onto your property. This could spook potential intruders from stepping any closer.

Check for Holes or Damage

As you’re looking at a house, walk around the outside and check for any holes or damage to the sides and foundation of the house. If there is access to a basement from the outside, it should be properly protected with a strong lock. If intruders can access a basement or crawlspace from the outside, chances are they’ll also find access to the inside too. To be safe, make sure that any possible entry point to your home is safely guarded.

Even when everything looks right as rain, taking the extra step to maintain a safe home can make all the difference. The number of things to inspect might seem a little overwhelming, but it might be more overwhelming to feel vulnerable in your own home. Worse comes to worse: if you’re having trouble determining what aspects of your home are “up to par” or not, you can always get a second opinion from a friend. Simply checking on a home can mean all the difference.