Tips to Help Secure Your Home and Keep Your Family Safe
Not everyone values the same things when finding an apartment or home. Some prefer quiet suburban streets, while others live at the very heart of buzzing cities. For every antique collector, there exists a minimalist or follower of the latest design trends.
In fact, one could argue that the only uniting desire all homeowners share is to keep their families safe.
Your environment influences the risk factors you face. However, there are basic home safety tips everyone should follow to protect those nearest to their heart.
Ideas for Securing Your Home From Break-Ins
Make your house look occupied, even when it’s not
Most burglars prefer to break-in when they think no one is home. Therefore, take measures to ensure they think someone is present, particularly if you will be away for multiple days.
For example, ask a trusted neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway and pick up your mail. You could also consider using a smart home system or smart plugs to turn lamps on-and-off at predetermined times.
A doorbell camera is arguably the best tool for appearing as if you are home. Burglars casing properties will often ring the doorbell to see if someone is inside. Thankfully, you can interact with (and record) the person using your mobile device, whether you’re in the next room or five time zones away.
Update doors and windows
Burglars prefer an unlocked access point, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t force their way into the home with tools or brute strength. Lessen their likelihood of breaking in by upgrading older or flimsy doors or windows to more secure designs.
Doors should be made with sturdy, heavy materials that will stand up to kicking and bashing. The lock should be equally up to the task, preferably with a deadbolt. For added home protection, choose a smart lock that can pair with your security system to monitor and control who comes and goes.
Your windows should present a challenge to intruders. For top strength, choose polycarbonate panes or, if you’re on a budget, plexiglass. All windows should have working locks, especially those on the ground-floor.
Set up a security system
The most effective way to help keep your home safe from intruders is to set up a security system. Ideally, it would include:
- A mobile app for remote access. You need to be able to control your security system regardless of whether you’re home or not. A mobile app makes this possible! Use it to access live or stored video footage, as well as to change settings and talk directly through the security cameras.
- Optional professional monitoring. DIY monitoring grants control over your security equipment, but it lacks a basic measure for protecting your home from break-ins.
Professional monitoring means that your system will notify your provider of possible distress, whether it be a fire or burglar. A representative will send help as soon as possible, saving you the step of calling 9-1-1 during an already stressful situation.
- Indoor and outdoor security cameras. Make your home safer for your family by monitoring activity inside and out of the home. Blue by ADT security cameras not only record movement, but also notify you of new visitors.
Secure your home by strategically positioning the wireless cameras for a full view of your exterior. Features like night vision, facial recognition, and custom motion detection zones help you detect burglars and act quickly to help protect your family from a break-in.
Inside, place security cameras in common areas to check on pets and babysitters. You can also use it to communicate with family members.
- A doorbell camera. Most people are familiar with doorbell cameras, including burglars. They may be less likely to break-in knowing that your home is secured and they will be recorded.
A quality doorbell camera lets you interact with visitors regardless of whether you are home. What’s more, motion will trigger it to record, even if no one rings it.
- Door and window sensors. Intruders don’t wait for a polite invitation. Instead, they sneak about the property seeking an unlocked entry point or a weak spot they can jimmy open. That’s why it’s important to secure your home’s doors and windows with sensors.
When activated, they will send you a warning and potentially sound an alarm depending on your settings. If you choose to enroll in professional monitoring, the sensor will notify your security system provider. In turn, they will send the police to help protect your home from the burglar, even if you’re not there.
- Motion sensors. Motion sensors should be easy to activate and deactivate based on your hour-by-hour needs.
With Blue, you can choose settings that would warn both you and your service provider if someone crosses your living room while you’re at work. You can also choose to have the sensors notify only you when activated. This is particularly useful for securing parts of the home from curious kids or employed help rather than intruders.
When assessing different security system providers, don’t judge their offering based on price alone. Partner with a company with a strong reputation and responsive customer service. After all, your security system choice not only protects your home, but your family as well.
Other ways to help secure your home from break-ins include:
Some Safety Risks Come From Inside the House
Break-ins aren’t the only threat to your home. Keep your family safe by accounting for the following:
Make sure you take the proper measures to avoid fire risks. Prevent electrical fires by keeping household wiring up-to-date and avoid overloading an outlet or power strip.
Similarly, take good care of your clothes dryer and cooking appliances, all which create some fire risks. This includes regular cleaning and maintenance, as well as keeping flammable items at a safe distance.
However, no matter how much you prepare, you’re never fully guaranteed that a fire won’t happen. Help make your home safer with the following steps:
- Store fire extinguishers in high-risk or important areas, such as the kitchen, the garage, and bedrooms
- Place a fire alarm in the living room and every bedroom. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least twice a year
- Add fire sensors to your existing home security system. These devices will automatically alert the authorities upon detecting excessive heat or fire so help can arrive ASAP
- Set up multiple exit routes from every room in the house. For second-floor bedrooms, this may involve fire ladders. Practice using the ladders with every member of the household, including older children
The CDC writes, “There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces.”
This is particularly true in homes with high humidity or regular leaks. As a result, mold may grow behind wallpaper, under carpets, and other hidden parts of the structure.
Mold can cause a negative physical reaction in some people, particularly those with allergies or asthma. Symptoms can include coughing, congestion, and reddened eyes. In more severe cases (such as prolonged exposure to “black mold”), headaches and nausea are possible. Keep your family safe by being on the vigilant lookout for this health-hazard.
Prevent mold growth by keeping humidity no higher than 50%, measured using a hygrometer. Strategically place dehumidifiers and confirm that bathroom and dryer vents push air outside the home. Clean up puddles and flooding aftermath as soon as possible, and address any leaks.
For more basic tips on how to safely clean mold using household products, check out this article. However, the EPA recommends hiring a professional if the mold covers more than 10 square feet.
Asbestos is a natural mineral used in the building of mid-century homes as a source of insulation. It wasn’t until the last few decades that scientists realized that its particles are poisonous to humans.
Asbestos causes an estimated 255,000 deaths each year. So how do you keep your family and home safe?
Many homeowners are unaware that their building’s structure incorporates asbestos; if your house predates the 1980s, assume it does. Luckily, in its intact, undisturbed state, it is most likely harmless.
It’s only dangerous when it’s easily crumbled and releases breathable particles; a state referred to as “friable.” A home inspector will look specifically for friable asbestos; if spotted, a professional should remove it before you move into the space.
Even if the asbestos is intact, take note of where it’s used throughout the house. If you plan on disturbing it during future home renovations, consult with a licensed professional.
For more tips on keeping your home and family safe from asbestos inhalation, click here.
Radon, the second-leading cause of lung cancer, comes from radioactive metals breaking down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. When inhaled in large amounts over time, the gas can lead to health problems years after the initial exposure.
You can take steps to identify and address this colorless, odorless gas to make your home safer and protect your family. When purchasing a new house, your home inspector should perform a radon test to determine if there are dangerous amounts. You can also purchase an at-home test that you can complete yourself.
If testing reports dangerous radon levels, immediately hire a certified radon mitigation contractor. Many states have directories of recommended specialists for your convenience.
Techniques the contractors may utilize various techniques including soil suction, filling crawl spaces with plastic sheeting, adjusting air pressure, and water treatment.
Last but not least, you must protect your family and home from carbon monoxide. While symptoms can be varied, large amounts can lead to severe consequences.
Like radon, it presents no color or odor, making it impossible to detect without technology. Luckily, you can buy CO2 detectors which sound an alarm if it detects critical amounts.
As an added measure, pair the detector with a fire sensor like those sold by Blue by ADT. If the smoke or CO2 detector sounds when you aren’t home, the sensor will immediately send a notification to your device. This way, you know to take action as soon as possible.
The Safety Risks for Individual Family Members
Naturally, some members of the family will be more vulnerable than others. When setting up your home, consider these ideas to help solve their unique challenges:
The smallest members of the family can do the most amount of damage. Whether it’s the desire to teeth foreign objects or misbehave for attention, they regularly put themselves in harm’s way. To keep them safe, keep the basic tips in mind:
- Consider the many choking risks for small children. It’s no secret that kids like putting things in their mouth, so limit their unsupervised access to potential choking hazards. These include small toys, balloons, loose buttons, pocket change, market caps . . . the list goes on-and-on.
For similar reasons, either install cordless blinds or tuck the cords upward so they’re out of kids’ reach.
- Organization is your number one tool. By ensuring everything has a designated place, you can tuck harmful items away when not in use. What’s more, lack of clutter will make it easier to spot potential risks.
- It’s important to control their access. Organization let’s you know where everything is, but your kids will know as well. Keep potentially harmful items under lock-and-key.
If your children are older or are particularly determined, consider installing security equipment. Sensors can detect every time someone reaches for liquor or dangerous power tools. You can also receive alerts when doors or windows open in the middle of the night.
Different setting options let you choose whether the sensors should emit an alarm or simply send you a notification.
- Don’t forget about the backyard. We want our kids to partake in outdoor fun, but we’re not always available to supervise them in-person. A security camera can let you monitor their activities from your phone or tablet, regardless of where you are in the house.
As a bonus, you can communicate directly through the security camera. Alex, it’s dinner time!
Family members with physical disabilities.
This broad category encompasses individuals with limited vision, mobility impairments, and other physical challenges. First and foremost, consult with your family member and trained professionals on how to change the home’s layout for their safety needs.
Remove as many barriers for your family member as possible, keeping in mind the spaces they will most frequently visit. A barrier doesn’t necessarily refer to a large piece of furniture. It can be a wobbly stair rail or a flipped corner of the rug which can cause tripping.
Similarly, be mindful of what items the family member will need most and any barriers. For example, a wheelchair user won’t be able to reach kitchen cabinets above a certain height. Someone with severe arthritis may struggle to bend down to find their shoes if placed on the ground.
Such issues impact quality of life, but also present threats to your loved one’s wellbeing. The smallest of details can be dangerous, from a darkened room to a slippery puddle in the bathroom.
Ask your family member’s doctor or physical therapist for additional ideas on how to create a safer home environment.
Family members with mental disorders or intellectual disabilities
Strokes, dementia, and other conditions that impact the brain can lead to a broad range of challenges not shared by everyone. Therefore, you must consult with your doctor to understand the unique safety risks your loved one faces. You may need to take actions similar to the above. However, there may be additional threats to consider.
Depending on how conditions or injuries impact the brain, your loved one’s judgment may be diminished. This could make them easy targets for scammers eager to access the house or steal their identity. A doorbell camera will record interactions with home visitors and let you intercede if needed.
Certain home appliances may prove to be dangerous, so limit your family member’s access. For example, you can install a hidden valve that easily turns off-and-on the gas for the oven. Likewise, lock away sharp items like lawnmowers and garden shears.
Alzheimer’s and related conditions commonly cause patients to wander. Therefore, it’s a good idea to position cameras and sensors throughout the home to track their movement and secure their safety.
For additional ideas on how to protect loved ones, read our article, Door Alarms + Security Systems Help Families of Wandering Dementia Patients.
The furriest members of your household also deserve a secure environment. Firstly, make your home safer for pets by preventing them from chewing harmful items. Hoist poisonous plants out of their reach. Tether loose cords to walls (you can run them through PVC pipes as an added measure, if necessary).
No doubt, your pet views your garbage as a treasure chest. However, it can contain a broad range of dangers, from coffee grounds to rubber bands. Purchase waste baskets with lids or that are tall enough to be inaccessible to your dog or cat.
You also need to be mindful of what your pets may breathe. For example, there is an increasing amount of evidence which suggests that essential oils are harmful to cats. Mothballs can be equally bad for cats to inhale.
To better understand your animals’ behaviors and related hazards when you aren’t around, set up an indoor camera. You can use your app to view their activities in real-time, and even communicate directly to them. Rosie, stop chewing on that slipper!
Wireless outdoor security cameras play a large role in helping to keep your pets safe, particularly if they can venture alone into the yard. Night vision capabilities are crucial, whether your dog is “doing his business” before bed or your cat refuses to come inside after sunset.
Securing Your Home and Keeping Your Family Safe Comes Down to Four Basic Ideas
We all want to protect our loved ones, but not everyone does what is necessary. When creating your own to-do list, remember the following:
- Planning ahead. Life is full of ups-and-downs. While we often see the good moments coming days or months in advance, we rarely foresee the bad. That’s why it’s important to take preventative measures.
Install home security systems to protect your home from break-ins, maintain the building’s soundness, and design the floorplan to meet your family’s needs.
- Don’t overlook details. Seemingly small things can make a big difference, whether it’s an extension cord which causes Grandma to trip or an open back window beckoning burglars.
- Communicate with all members of your family and visitors. Make sure that everyone is aware of the proper safety measures. This includes fire escape plans, household rules, and how to use the security system. To reinforce important safety messages, it’s a smart idea to leave notes as reminders. Remember to lock the back door!
- Embrace technology. Simply put, smart home capabilities help make our families safer and our lives easier. You can arm your security system, remotely interact with visitors, and receive instant notifications about break-ins, all from your mobile device. Protect your family by harnessing technology for better-than-ever surveillance and control, backed by professional monitoring.
To learn how Blue by ADT can help you secure your home, explore our DIY security systems. For additional safety ideas, check out the articles listed below.