You don't need to buy expensive home security and monitoring systems to make your home more safe. There are common-sense steps that are inexpensive and can make a big difference in keeping you and your family safe.
Protect your family and home from fires
Installing and maintaining smoke detectors on every floor of your home is a simple way to keep your family safer from fires. Check and test detectors regularly and replace the batteries once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Keep a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen since the kitchen is a place where many fires start. Regularly clean your dryer's lint trap and clean out the vent pipe once a year (or more often if needed). The U.S. Fire Administration says clothes dryers cause 2,900 fires each year in the United States. Make sure you and you and your family have a fire escape plan that includes multiple ways to exit your house, so your family knows what to do if a fire breaks out.
Monitor for carbon monoxide
A good carbon monoxide detector is inexpensive and can help keep your family safe. Other safety tips include regularly servicing appliances that run on oil, gas, or coal and avoiding running engines and generators indoors or in attached garages. Also, don't let your car run in your garage unless you have the garage door open. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 400 people die each year in the United States as a result of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Another 50,000 people visit emergency rooms each year because of CO poisoning.
Keep medications away from children and pets
The Washington Post reports that 52,000 children under the age of six were treated for accidental poisoning from medications in 2017. Keep medications and vitamins in places where children and pets can't see them or reach them. Leave medicines in their original child-resistant containers. And safely dispose of any medications you are no longer taking or that have expired. Many pharmacies have programs to take back medications, so check with your local pharmacy.
Store cleaners, chemicals, paint, and pesticides outside the house
These are things that you'll want to store safely away from children and animals — ideally, in a detached garage or outdoor shed. That's because cleaners, chemicals, paints, and pesticides can make the air in your home less healthy if their containers aren't tightly sealed. Watch out for those popular washing machine detergent pods too. Young children can mistake them for candy.
Secure flat-screen televisions and heavy furniture
Big televisions and large furniture can be hazardous to younger children. Make sure flat-screen televisions are securely mounted on walls above their reach. If you have a large television resting on a table, consider installing anti-tipping safety straps. They are inexpensive and can help keep your family safe. Furniture, such as dressers and bookcases that might be top-heavy, can also be tipping hazards and easy for children to pull over. Furniture straps and anchors come at reasonable prices and are simple to install.
Light up entrances and garage doors
Exterior lighting is an effective way to make your home safer. It discourages thieves and intruders from attempting to break into your home. In addition, exterior lighting helps you feel more secure before entering your home. Consider using high efficiency light bulbs to save money on electricity or use motion sensing lights. And consider cutting back bushes and shrubbery that grow around your doors and windows. Shrubbery that is high and thick gives people places to hide while they are trying to break into your house.
Make it appear as though someone is home
Light timers are an inexpensive way to improve your home's security. When your doors are well lit but your windows are dark, it can appear as if no one is home. Buy light timers and set them up in rooms you often use. You'll want people to see the lights from the outside of your house without being able to look inside (and realize you're not home!). Place the lights near windows with blinds or drapes that still allow light to shine outside.
Have your car keys handy
Many newer model vehicles come with a panic button on the key fob that will set off the car alarm. If you park near your house, the alarm on your automobile might help scare away intruders and draw the attention of your neighbors.
Make your house number easy to read
Help the police, fire department, and ambulances find your house easily. Make sure your house number is large and easy to spot. This will help delivery people and your friends and family find your home too!
Join a neighborhood watch
Neighborhood watches can help keep your family and all the families in your community safer. You'll want to join a watch that works with the local police or sheriff's department, and that helps law enforcement professionals by being additional "eyes and ears" in the community. Joining a watch is also a great way to meet your neighbors. For information, visit the National Crime Prevention Council's website.