Things a New Homeowner Needs to Keep Their Home Safe
Peace of mind is important in your home. Both you and your family should feel safe at home. Despite declining burglary rates in the US, the FBI states that burglaries still occur every 30 seconds; there were roughly 1,117,696 burglaries in 2019 according to the latest data provided by the FBI.
You can prevent burglaries by taking the appropriate safety measures. We’ve compiled a list of 18 things a new homeowner needs to keep their home secure.
1. Think About Your Garage
As you seek to secure your home, don’t forget the garage. Unfortunately, a garage can offer intruders easy access to your home. Contact a garage door repair contractor if you’re having issues with your garage door. Other than that, there are measures you can take to safeguard against intruders accessing your home through the garage.
First, ensure your garage’s regular doors and windows are locked. Next, keep the garage door inside your home open instead of in the car. Finally, keep the inside door from your garage to your house locked. This way, should an intruder infiltrate your garage, they won’t get into your home.
Also consider purchasing a retrofit smart garage door opener. These devices allow one to monitor and control their garage remotely. Securing your garage is one of the most important things a new homeowner needs to keep their home safe.
2. Regular Inspections of Your Home’s Foundation
Every few months, walk around your home looking for apparent foundation issues. These inspection rounds will tell you if it’s time to contact residential foundation contractors from a residential foundation repair company. A strong foundation is essential to a safe home. Some things to watch out for are:
- Mold and Mildew: Wood rot occurs where mold and mildew are present. If your home has a crawl space, regularly check for signs of moisture buildup.
- Movement: Unwanted movement is often shown by separating doors or windows from the wall or by an uneven floor.
- Drywall problems: While a few nails poking through drywall shouldn’t alarm you, drywall cracks in the ceiling or walls frequently point to a problem with the foundation.
- Pests: If not addressed, rodents, burrowing animals, ants, and termites can damage the foundation.
- Cracks: A minor hairline crack on a wall’s base can become a huge problem. Additionally, the presence of white patches can indicate water infiltration. Cracked floors or brickwork also require extra attention.
If you notice any of these signs, schedule a foundation repair from a residential foundation repair company as soon as possible. Procrastination will lead to further problems, which may necessitate excavating, electrical repairs, or roof repair from a professional roof contractor. A strong foundation helps to make your home safe.
3. Replace the Locks
This little detail is often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important a new homeowner needs for enhanced safety. Changing the locks in your outside doors should be among the first things to do, preferably before moving to a new home. You never know who might have a copy of your house keys.
The previous owners may have shared copies of the keys with several people, including house cleaners, handymen, neighbors, family, or friends. You never know who could be planning to use their copy for malicious purposes. Don’t take that chance. As soon as you relocate, have a reputable locksmith rekey the entire house.
4. Install Motion-activated Lights
This is one of the most important things a new homeowner needs for enhanced safety. Motion detector lighting offers an added layer of security for your home. If burglars strike at night, motion detector lighting will automatically shine a bright light on them, likely deterring them from their mission.
Install motion-activated flood lights on the back, front, and sides of your house, or other potential hiding spots. Besides deterring burglars, motion detector lighting is a cost-effective, energy-saving solution for lighting the exterior of your home.
5. Establish the Location of Electric Switches and Water Valves
One of the first things you need to do when moving into a new home is to learn how to turn off the water supply. This means physically going around the home’s exterior to locate the shut-off valve. Knowing how to turn off the water when a pipe bursts, or when your plumbing requires maintenance helps you avoid costly water damage.
Similarly, you need to know where the circuit breakers are so you can reset the breaker in case of an electrical system overload, or when your system needs repairs. Learn the function of each circuit breaker and label them appropriately.
6. Establish First-Aid Stations
A home should always have a first-aid kit for emergencies. If you don’t already have one, get one before or immediately after your move. Note that a first-aid kit won’t help if the people in your household don’t know where it’s located. In an emergency, every minute counts. Store your first-aid kit in an easy-to-access area. If you move it to a new spot, inform the rest of the household. Establishing first-aid stations is one of the important things a new homeowner needs to ensure their home is safe.
7. Use Timers
Burglars are more inclined to target a vacant home than an occupied one. If you’re out of town for a few days, use timers and lights. Timers create the illusion that someone is at home when they’re not. They do this by automatically turning the lights, TV, and radio on and off. You can buy electrical timers from a home improvement store.
8. Consider Getting a Safe
In an ideal world, no one would ever break into your home and steal your valuables. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If an intruder breaks into your home, you want to limit how much they can steal. First, consider investing in a safe or lockbox for storing valuables like important documents, cash, jewelry, and other stuff you don’t want thieves to take. For larger items like electronics, consider placing them in a concealed area when not in use. Thieves don’t want to spend more than a few minutes in your home, so even the slightest deterrent will help.
9. Window or Door Sensors
Window/door sensors are also known as entry sensors. They alert you when a window or door opens or closes. Safeguarding entrances is one of the things a new homeowner should do to secure their home. One can use sensors as part of home automation and security systems. You can program cause-and-effect actions that serve both purposes. For instance, you can program the sensor to switch on your bedroom lights if the door opens at night. Alternatively, you can set it to send you a message if it opens when you’re away.
10. Medical Safety Equipment
If you’re providing care to an elderly relative, a disabled person with restricted mobility, or anyone else with a medical condition, consider investing in medical safety devices. Medical safety or alert devices are distinct from home security systems and aren’t interchangeable. Wearable panic buttons are a common feature in medical safety systems.
In case of a fall or other emergency, a disabled person can use it to ask for assistance. Some models include automated alerts, meaning that even if the user passes out, the gadget will still contact an ambulance. Medical safety equipment is among the most important things a new homeowner needs if they are living with disabled or elderly persons.
11. Use GFCI outlets
GFCI outlets prevent electric shocks and are required in some rooms. If your home was recently built, you’ve undoubtedly spotted them in your bathroom and kitchen. You’ll also spot them in crawl spaces and other areas prone to moisture. If the home is a bit older, you can add a GFCI outlet for roughly one dollar, which is an excellent investment.
12. Install Freeze or Flood Sensors
Frozen or broken pipes can cause significant damage if not addressed. Home automation can detect these risks before they become an emergency. Flood and freeze sensors can monitor water and temperature. If the sensors pick up a potential issue, you’ll receive an alert so you can take care of it before it gets out of hand.
13. Home Security System
Although home security systems will not necessarily stop a burglar from breaking in, the alert may scare them away before they can steal anything, or even get the attention of the neighbors. Security systems alert you should your home be broken into. They also automatically alert the police, a feature that can help mitigate the extent of damage or loss. For instance, if burglars break into your home and the security systems go off, they’ll be in a hurry to leave, since they know it’s just a matter of time before the cops come knocking, and even if they don’t notice the alarm has been activated, there’s a chance the police will arrive before they have finished their evil mission.
Most of the systems available today can send alerts when your children are back from school or when a door isn’t closed, allowing you to monitor your family while away. Any credible home security system should take into account your family’s needs and current lifestyle.
14. Maintain Privacy
By simply putting up curtains or blinds, you can deter potential burglars because they won’t be able to tell if there are valuable items inside. Even if they break into your home, they will be walking ‘blind’ hoping to find valuable items worth their time and effort, by which time the alarm is likely to have brought the police to your door.
The deterrent effect of blinds and curtains is what makes a home less attractive to burglars. They won’t know if breaking in will be worth the risk involved. It’s also harder for them to determine whether someone is home if they can’t see inside their home.
15. Invest in Porch Security
Home security should also extend to your porch. This means safeguarding your delivered packages against porch pirates. In the US, billions of packages are delivered annually, particularly during the holiday season. Most of these packages are left unattended for hours, which attracts burglars. According to CNET, recent research reported that 43% of respondents said they had a package stolen in 2020, up from 36% in 2019.
In light of the rise in porch piracy, there are various ways to keep your packages secure. First, consider investing in a mailbox sensor (a small gadget that connects to your mailbox and alerts you when it is accessed) or a porch lockbox. Second, require a signature with each delivery to prevent the packages from sitting on your porch unattended.
16. Be Smart About Where You Hide Your Key
If you hide your house keys under your flowerpot or doormat, rethink their placement. Burglars are aware of these common hiding spots and will check them first. Instead, consider giving a trusted friend or neighbor the spare key. If you must have an extra key outside your home, consider safer options like a hidden combination lockbox or, at the very least, choose a secure spot far from your doorstep, but make sure you can remember the spot in case you need to use the spare key.
17. Test Your Smoke Detectors
Be extremely cautious with your smoke detectors. Walk through your home to map out where each smoke detector is located. You can test them, but changing the batteries immediately is recommended. This will give you a fresh start and allow you to begin a new regular testing schedule.
18. Inspect the HVAC System
Whether it’s during the winter or summer, one of the most important things a new homeowner needs is to have the entire HVAC system inspected, cleaned, and upgraded by a professional cooling and heating contractor. This is a great way of ensuring your air conditioner and furnace are safe and ready for operation.
Prevention is the best strategy for keeping your new home safe. The best security system is one that keeps intruders off your home, and it starts with taking several common-sense steps, such as quick and simple measures that increase your home’s security. To reduce the chances of your home becoming the target of an invasion, go through the 18 items on this list and make sure your home checks all, or at least most, of them.
Right now, look around your new home to identify vulnerable safety spots and then take remedial steps to address them. Once you’ve done that, you can relax knowing you’ve done your part to make your home safe.