There are a few things that you can do to help lower your risk of a home invasion. The first, and likely the most important thing that you can do to protect your home and family, is to have a monitored alarm system installed in your home. You can also use window decals and yard signs, which will warn potential intruders that you have a system in place, to protect yourself and your family.
A cellular backup device is also important. You have to realize that burglars will often stop at nothing to get what they want. Having a cellular backup device will ensure that the police can be contacted if your phone lines are cut. If your alarm system is unable to communicate with the police, they will not know to come to your aid. It is essential that you have a backup device installed.
Keep your windows and doors locked at all times, because an open window or door is often an invitation to would-be burglars. You should also check the integrity of your locks. Ensure that your locks are in good working order and that they are strong enough to keep unwanted visitors from entering your home. Sliding glass doors should always be secured, and you can do so by putting a piece of plywood or metal rod in the track. Doors to your attached garage should always be locked, particularly when you are not at home, and timers can be installed on your lights and electronics to make it look as if you are home even when you are not.
Lighting is essential in home protection. The outside of your home should be well lit to discourage intruders. If you are going to be gone for a few days, have a trusted neighbor pick up mail so that it does not look as if no one is there. Never leave any indication that you are going to be gone for more than just a few hours. You may even want to ask someone to park their car in your driveway to give off the illusion that someone is home or visiting.
Never leave any indication that you are gone, even when it comes to your answering machine. Do not leave a message that states you are on vacation. Simply make it seem as if you are just gone for a few moments and will return home at any given time. Also, ensure that your outdoor perimeter is kept well-maintained. Hedges should be trimmed and your lawn should be maintained so that there is nowhere for a burglar to hide if he chooses to attempt entry into your home.
Home fires are very common and unfortunately, many of them are preventable. You should ensure that every member of your family knows exactly what to do in the event of a home fire. Make up a plan for evacuation, just in case. You should have two escape routes for every room in your home and make up a plan for each floor. The plan should be drawn and should show details such as doors and windows, stairs and hallways. You want family members to know exactly how and where they should exit the home in the event of fire.
The plan should also include a safe meeting area outside the home. Choose something like the end of the driveway, a large tree or another area that even younger children can easily find, and make sure that it is away from the home in a safe place. Test your doors and windows to ensure that they can be opened by younger members of the family, and practice your escape plan regularly.
You should discuss certain safety issues with family members. Topics can vary but should include things like always sleeping with bedroom doors closed and how each member will alert other members in the event of fire. Yelling, whistling and other loud noises can be very helpful in alerting family members of a fire. Have everyone practice yelling “fire” to ensure that they understand what needs to be done in case a fire does ever invade your home.
Ensure that your family understands that time is of the essence in a home fire. Should a fire happen during the night, no one should take the time to get dressed or search for valuables. Stress that getting out of the house is the most important factor. You should roll out of your bed and stay as close to the floor as possible while moving through the house. Breathing in smoke or gas could be fatal. Hold fire safety practices often so that everyone knows what should be done and how to properly get out.
If a fire does break out, understand that smoke will make visibility very low. You will not be able to see clearly, so it is important to teach family members how to feel their way out of the house. Learn the stop, drop and roll routine, just in case clothing catches fire and teach children that when a door is hot, there is likely fire behind it and another evacuation route should be taken.
Smoke detectors synced to a monitored home security system can be very helpful in early fire detection. Check smoke detectors at least once each month and replace batteries once each year, at the very least. You should have at least one smoke detector installed on each level of your home and only purchase those that are labeled by the UL or Underwriters Laboratories or FM, Factory Mutual.
Emergency phone numbers should be posted near your telephone so that you can contact the fire department if needed. Should you choose to have a monitored home security system installed in your home; any monitored fire detectors will alert the authorities for you.
Do not go back into your home until the fire department has deemed it safe to do so. Many homeowners are injured every year when they return to their homes before the fire has been completely extinguished. Practice first aid on family members if needed until emergency services arrive.
Fire prevention is very important and should be practiced regularly. If you use space heaters, ensure that you keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn and never leave space heaters on when you are sleeping or away from home. Never allow pets or children near space heaters.
If you are a smoker, it is essential that you never smoke while in bed and always ensure that cigarettes are completely extinguished before discarding them in the trash. When cooking, keep clothing away from the stove and turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent children from pulling them off.
If you have a grease fire while cooking, slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames and then turn the burner off. Keep lighters and matches away from children at all times and always practice electrical safety. Never overload outlets or use any cords that are frayed or otherwise damaged. Never allow cords to run under carpeting or rugs or directly behind curtains. Never leave halogen lighting on when you are not home and keep them away from low ceilings and flammable fabrics.
Young children should always be supervised to help lower their risk of injury. Even in the nursery, it is important to practice safety. Keep all plastic bags out of reach of children and baby monitors should be kept a safe distance away from cribs. Medicine should be stored on high shelves so that younger children cannot reach them and it is very important to purchase medicines that have a child-resistant package.
UL listed nightlights are a safe choice and should include UL listed replacement bulbs. Safety nightlights should be in styles that will prevent children from pulling them out or accessing their bulbs. Always follow recommendations for bulb wattage and keep nightlights at least 3 feet away from flammable materials and bedding. Child safety covers for outlets are very inexpensive and should be in all open outlets. Cords that are frayed or damaged should be replaced and hidden behind furniture to keep children from pulling on them.
Pictures should be securely hung high enough on the wall that children cannot pull them down. You should never hang any heavy decorations including pictures over the crib and keep cribs away from windows that have blinds. Blind cords are very dangerous to children and can cause strangulation if they are pulled on. If there are loops in your blind cords, you can call 1-800-444-6742 and request repair kits that will be shipped to you for free. Window guards can be installed and these should have a quick-release mechanism so that adults an easily open the windows in the event of a home fire.
Unstable furniture like bookshelves and dressers should be anchored to the wall to prevent them from being pulled over and baby gates should be used in all necessary areas such as nursery room doors, kitchen doorways and at the top and bottom of staircases. Toy chests can be purchased that have lid supports so they will not fall down when children are reaching into the toy chest. All door stops with removable caps should be replaced and finger pinch guards are an excellent idea to keep little fingers from being pinched by hinges.
Neighborhood watch programs are among the most traditional ways to protect your home and family. Many communities offer watch programs and if yours does not, now is a good time to implement one. These programs involve citizens working together with area law enforcement to deter crime and generally make neighborhoods safer. Neighborhood Watch is sponsored by the NSA, National Sheriffs’ Association, and has been in operation since colonial days when watchmen patrolled streets at night while citizens slept.
A more modern version of Neighborhood Watch was developed when police departments began looking for crime prevention programs that allowed citizen involvement. Neighborhood Watch was implemented in 1972 and relies on citizens to help keep crime rates down in their respective neighborhoods. Citizens learn ways of effectively patrolling their neighborhoods and this helps law enforcement officials to better perform their own duties.
Neighborhood Watch works well because it reduces the opportunity for crime. Instead of relying on changing the behavior or motivation of criminals, it simply helps citizens and police departments to work together to deter crime altogether. It is essential that Neighborhood Watch citizens work with their local police or sheriff’s department. These agencies are essential to a neighborhood watch program and its credibility. They can provide the necessary training and information about a watch program. Victims’ services agencies can also help to train members to help crime victims.
Those who are planning to initiate a neighborhood watch program should speak with all residents of the community if possible. Regular meetings should be held to ensure that all citizens have adequate training and other information at their disposal. Linking with an existing organization like a community development office or housing authority is also a good idea. These agencies can offer an existing infrastructure which can make the watch program much more effective.
Going door to door in order to recruit new members is also important. For existing programs, offer a welcome to new community members and invite them to join the program as well. Residents who seldom leave home make very effective watchers and can do so from their windows. Translation for members who speak other languages is essential and translators can attend meetings to ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done.
There are number of ways to raise community awareness. Sponsoring crime watch and drug prevention programs at fairs, schools and community centers can be very helpful. Get information about the crime statistics for your specific neighborhood by speaking with police departments and allow residents to share what they know about crime prevention as well.
Cleaning up the neighborhood can also be very helpful. Homes that are overgrown with grass and weeds or that have abandoned cars and other debris on the property can actually contribute to crime. Sponsor neighborhood cleanup projects and encourage everyone in the community to beautify your area. Ask that everyone leave outdoor lights on at night and work with small businesses in the area to repair damaged or aging storefronts and other areas that may encourage crime.
Neighborhood protection takes an entire neighborhood to implement. Speaking with others in your community about deterring crime and protecting all of your homes and families is a great step toward a safer community for everyone.
Tips for Reducing False Alarms
False alarms cost millions of dollars every year by sending authorities and emergency services to a home that is not really in need of assistance. It is important that false alarms be avoided whenever possible. Home alarm systems are there for protection and while you should certainly never be afraid to use yours, you should learn how to better prevent false alarms from happening.
One of the best ways to avoid a false alarm is to ensure that all of your family members are properly trained to use the security system. Ensure that your passwords or passcodes are known by everyone with authorization to use your system. All windows and doors should be secured before your alarm is armed and it is a good