safeThe purchase of home security systems is on the rise, and they’re becoming more and more sophisticated. But security experts will tell you that you can’t simply rely on the technology to protect you and your home. By following some simple steps on a home security and safety checklist, you can gain better control.

Locks and Keys

Change the locks when you move into a new house, lose your keys, or someone with access moves out.

Replace spring-latch hook locks with deadbolt locks. Spring-latches can be unlocked with a credit card.

Hide the spare key in a not-so-obvious place. Under the mat, in the mailbox, above the door, or in a pot near the door are likely places, because they’re convenient. Find a more covert spot to stash the spare key. Try wrapping it in foil and burying it under a shrub.

If you have people who need access to your home when you’re not there—such as house cleaners or painters—change to a deadbolt with a combination lock. You can program it to a code for their use and then remove the code to prohibit access. When you return home, make sure all locks have been secured, in the event that someone left a door or window unlocked.


The National Fire Protection Association recommends a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every floor of your home. The batteries should be checked monthly, and the detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed within 10 feet of every bedroom door, in or near your garage, and on every level of your home. Replace them every five to six years.

A water alarm will alert you of moisture or leaks, so you can prevent major water damage. Install them near water heaters and sump pumps, under sinks, and behind refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers.


A door that has too much space between the edge of the door and the frame enables a burglar to pry it open. Check your doors, and if the space allows a tool to be wedged in, reinforce the edge of the door with wood or metal to fill the gap.

Exterior doors should not have exposed hinges, which can be removed by an intruder. Reset those hinges to the inside of the door.

Protect entry on your sliding glass doors by placing a pipe or bar in the slider’s track on the inside. The bar should measure the full distance of the track.


Your home’s windows represent the most vulnerable spot. Some homeowners invest in home security systems and then forget the simple step of locking their windows. The best tip is to keep your windows locked at all times. Check them before going to bed or leaving your house.

Also, while you may prefer the privacy of shrubs, don’t let them block your windows. This blind spot from the street is enticing to intruders.


Leaving a light on is a simple deterrent to a burglar. Just that little amount of doubt that someone might be home could send him away. Use timers when you’re not home, and install motion sensor lights near your home’s entrances.


The garage door is a common oversight in home security. Don’t forget to keep your garage door locked.

Cover the garage windows with a frosted vinyl film so outsiders can’t see whether or not your vehicle is there.

Install a peephole in the door that connects the garage and your home, so you can see who is in the garage without opening the door.

Remember, the best home safety system is awareness. Pay attention to windows and doors, and remind everyone in the home to do the same!