You will find a lot of information regarding monitored home security systems and praising the advantages of having one in your home. And while a security system should be the backbone of your home safety plan, there are still additional measures that can and should be taken to protect your family. This guide focuses on providing a general overview of some of the types of equipment and highlighting our best tips and tricks for each category.
Below you will find tips and advice that extend beyond alarm systems and encompass everything from outdoor lighting and landscaping to child safety and senior living. Following this advice will allow you to easily improve your family’s safety and security when it comes to your home.
When protecting your family, the best place to start is at home, more specifically, the interior of your home. There are many improvements that can be made to the average American’s home that can make a big difference in emergencies or your daily life. Smoke detectors, security systems, and light timers are all cost-effective ways to keep your family safe.
As nearly 2.5 million Americans find out every year, theft is a very real problem. Property related crimes account for over 70% of all criminal activity. Home invasion is one of the most serious threats to families today. On average, four homes are broken into every minute. The FBI reports that the vast majority (over 60%) of these burglaries involve forcible entry.
Even worse, burglars spend their time “casing” potential victims, studying their targets, trying to find the perfect way to get in and get out without getting caught. Even modern police techniques often leave homeowners out to dry. As of 2020, only about 14% of burglaries are ever solved due to a lack of evidence or witnesses. The truth of the matter is that modern home security is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Below, we will be focusing on some of the tools and techniques that can help you to stop thieves from getting in and even ways to make sure they never even try.
The best way to protect your home is to install a security system. These systems provide 24/7 protection for your home through their monitoring station and are backed by the company’s customer service department should an issue arise. Along with being the best step to prevent break-ins, if a break-in does occur, a security system ensures the appropriate authorities are notified and dispatched in a timely manner. If your system has security cameras, you may even collect valuable evidence should the criminal manage to get away.
By clearly showing burglars that your house is well protected, you can often convince them to go find easier options. In fact, just by having a security system installed and mounting external cameras, a protected home is 300% less likely to be broken into compared to a home that does not have an alarm system. Furthermore, crime rates are significantly lower in neighborhoods where such security systems are common.
In addition, these systems often come with many extra benefits. Most homeowner’s insurance plans offer a discount for having a security device installed, sometimes as much as 30% off. Many alarm companies will also offer environmental sensors such as CO2 detectors, smoke detectors, and flood sensors, all of which provide additional protection from sometimes unseen dangers.
Basic Security and Safety Features
Most systems’ basic security functions focus on protecting your home from burglars and alerting you when there is a break-in. These systems usually have a control panel that displays that is used to arm and disarm the system as well as provide information about the status of your system. When installing or having one of these panels installed, you need to become familiar with and use the Arm/Disarm functionality. Many people leave themselves with a false sense of security by forgetting to arm their system. Remember, leaving a security system unarmed is just like leaving a car door unlocked.
While basic door window sensors are useful to know when doors and windows are opened, they do not know when a thief has broken a window and climbed through to gain entry into your home. Install glass break detectors to prevent this from going unnoticed. These detectors pick up on the unique frequency of breaking glass and can alert you and the police. These detectors should not replace door and window sensors but instead be used to provide an increased level of security.
Many security companies also offer fire, flood, and CO2 detectors as part of their security packages. These features are just as important to your personal safety as security alarms. When you have the opportunity, we encourage you to take advantage of these features. Some advice concerning these specific sensors is listed below.
- When having smoke alarms installed, make sure they are monitored. This will ensure that when an alarm is triggered, the fire department will be dispatched even if you are not present in the home.
- Make sure to change their batteries every 6 months and inspect them for dust or lint buildup. Your family is only protected as long as these systems are in good working order. Make sure to check your systems every month and change smoke sensor batteries every 6 months.
Advanced Security Features
While some families opt for only the basic features, others may choose more extensive security features when protecting their homes. These systems often include interactive features such as light and thermostat control and may even perimeter detection sensors as well as cameras.
One of the biggest benefits of video monitoring systems is that not only can they be more effective at preventing break-ins they also can provide valuable evidence for police investigations. Many systems automatically save video recordings for up to 90 days for you, but you should still check with your provider to ensure these recordings are remotely saved for some period of time.
Keeping the inside of your home well lit is one of the best ways to discourage thieves from targeting your home. Many systems with interactive monitoring offer compatibility with light control sensors which allows you to control your lights remotely through your phone or web-enabled device. Should your system not offer this feature, a simple light timer can do the trick.
These timers work by switching lights on or off at pre-programmed times. When casing a house, thieves look for patterns to try to determine if anyone is present. By using a timer, you can coordinate different lights to turn on and off throughout the day to create the illusion that people are constantly home.
When programming an interior timer you need to keep several things in mind:
- Program your interior lights between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM: This is the most common window for burglaries as thieves intentionally target your home when everyone is at work or school.
- Don’t just program one light to be on all day: This can signal to burglars casing your home that you are using a timer.
- Program several lights to switch on and off throughout the house over the course of a day: The best use of timers is to create the illusion that someone is living in the house, switching lights on and off as they move around. Having more than one timer makes it much more difficult for a thief to tell if your home is occupied.
- Make sure to program lights visible from the curb: Thieves often case your house from the sidewalk so remember to program lights that can be seen through your windows.
- Consider using a programmer for your TV as well: There are special timers that can turn on your TV to a specific channel while you are away. This can easily fool thieves into thinking that you are around the house.
Securing Your Valuables
Theft cannot always be prevented. Sometimes, despite having excellent security, burglars might be able to gain access to your home. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage that burglars are able to do.
One of the best ways to do this is to buy a safe. A good safe should be combination protected, heat resistant, and heavy enough that an adult male cannot easily remove it (or secured to the floor). You should keep any personal documents (e.g., birth certificates and social security cards) inside of your safe at all times. These are some of the most important documents to keep out of the hands of criminals. Any guns should also be kept unloaded and in a gun safe. This will keep your weapons safe from burglars, as well as any children in your home. Unsecured firearms can pose a real threat to you and your family.
There are likely many things in your home that cannot be easily stowed in a safe or perhaps it is not convenient to do so. This does not mean that you shouldn’t take other steps to protect them. Make a list (or video recording) of all of your valuable possessions. This list should include important identifying information such as serial numbers or other identifying marks that can help police identify them as yours as well as help with potential insurance claims.
One area of the home that is often neglected when it comes to home security is the garage. Garages come with a unique set of security risks and safety hazards that must be dealt with accordingly. First and foremost, if your garage is attached you need to ensure that your lock has a deadbolt. Garages are often easier to break into than going through the front door so you need to treat the door to your garage as any other door to the exterior. Otherwise, gaining access to your garage provides burglars with easy and discrete access to the rest of your home.
Another important piece of advice is to always keep your garage door closed, even if you are home. About 9% of all burglars enter through the garage – quite often this is because they were able to walk right in. Leaving the garage door up is just as dangerous as leaving the front door wide open – it screams “Come on in!” and makes it easier for potential burglars to “case” your home.
Garages pose more of a threat than just a security risk. They can also be dangerous, especially for children and not just because of the tools, chemicals, or equipment you may be storing in them. It should be obvious that you should never keep volatile chemicals, oily rags, fertilizer or paint cans in your garage since these may explode, especially if the garage is not temperature controlled. But even if you’ve removed all these obvious threats, if the proper safety measures are not taken, something as innocuous as your garage door could cause serious injury to a child, pet, or even adult that gets caught underneath.
That is why it’s important to frequently test your garage’s reverse safety sensor to be certain it is in good working order, especially if there are children present in the home. When testing this sensor, ensure the closing garage door immediately begins to retract when an object is placed under it.
Proper fire safety is an important and easy way to keep your family safe. Every family, in addition to taking steps to prevent and alert themselves to fires should also have a prepared plan of how to respond quickly and calmly in the event of a fire emergency.
One of the most important fire preparedness steps is making a plan. A good plan starts with identifying exits, and every room in your home should have at least two different exits that are easily accessible. Start by drawing a map of your home or referencing blueprints with your family. Highlight the exits for every room and ensure that your children are familiar with the plan, know where to go, and are comfortable with the exits (especially if you are making use of window ladders).
You should then pick a spot outside the home where everyone will meet in the event of an emergency. Having a meeting place makes it easy to quickly take count of your family and identify anyone who may be stuck in the home so that you can alert the first responders. Your meeting place should be away from the home, preferably out front, and not on the road or where emergency vehicles may park when responding. As with any good plan, practice makes perfect, and you should be running “fire drills” every couple of months with your family, so everyone knows how to respond should there ever be a real emergency.
Every home should also be outfitted with at least one fire extinguisher located in or near the kitchen. Many fires begin in the kitchen and having a fire extinguisher can help to put out flames quickly before they spread through your home. In addition to being a quick way to put a fire out, extinguishers also provide the ability to put out oil or electrical fires, which are often made worse by and cannot be put out with water.
Above all else, always remember the number one priority is you and your family’s safety! Fires can spread quickly, if a fire cannot be extinguished immediately with an extinguisher, your attention should immediately shift to notifying and evacuating individuals that are in the home. Calling the fire department can wait until you and your family are safely at your preplanned meeting spot outside.
Burglars often identify their potential targets through a process called casing. This involves driving or walking through neighborhoods or apartment blocks, looking for any obvious signs that a house may not be secure. When a thief identifies an unsecure home, they can easily break in, take what they want, and disappear within minutes and oftentimes without a trace. Remember, you never want your home to seem like the easy target in your neighborhood. Listed below are some of the signs that a thief will be looking for when casing your home.
Examples of poor external security:
- No security system stickers or notices
- Doors (including garage doors) left open or unlocked
- Easy to reach second story windows
- Easy to look through windows with valuables in sight
- No indoor lighting
- Lack of outdoor lighting at night
- Dense bushes or trees that can hide burglars from neighbors’ view
- Snow piled on sidewalks and driveways
- Stacks of newspapers or mail left outside
Examples of excellent external security:
- Security system installed and displayed
- External security cameras
- Fences with locked gates
- Motion detecting external lights
- Neighborhood watch signs present
- Loud guard dogs
- Home appears constantly occupied. (Lights/TV on, mail picked up, lawn maintained)
When it comes to protecting your home against burglars, lights on the outside are often more important than those on the inside. Burglars hate being caught in the light and often try to avoid houses that are well illuminated at night. When setting up lights around your home, you should take measures to ensure that any potential thief will be exposed by your light fixtures, regardless of where they attempt to enter your home.
One of the best ways to do this is to install motion activated light fixtures. Particularly near entry points such as windows, doors and garages, these fixtures can startle and expose any unwanted visitors who are skulking around near your home. When shopping around for exterior light fixtures, keep paying close attention to the number of lights (preferably 2 or more) and their wattage. Having high-powered multi-bulb fixtures increases the area that is lit up and provides some redundancy should one bulb burn out.
Additionally, light timers can be just as effective on the outside of your home as on the inside. Unlike indoor timers which are most effective at convincing burglars you are home while the sun is up, these lights are more effective the darker it is outside. Setting a timed light over your carport or garage to turn on just before sunrise and then from sunset until right before you head to bed makes it seem like you are coming and going from the house. This can be particularly useful when you will be out of town for a long time and don’t want your house to appear unoccupied.
Crime reports from the FBI show that 60% of burglars enter the home through either the front or the back door. Over a third of these burglaries don’t involve forcible entry, usually because someone has left the door unlocked. That’s why our first and most important piece of advice in this section is always remember to lock your doors! You should get in the habit of always locking your doors behind you, even if you are home or will only be gone for a few minutes.
However, just remembering to lock your doors may not be enough if they aren’t secure. The first way that many burglars try to enter into many homes if the door is locked, especially in apartments or condos, is to try and kick open the front door. The average adult male can kick down a weak, hollow core door in one or two blows. Additionally, if your door only has a simple in-knob lock, the entire lock can come off with the frame. This is why we recommend that every exterior door to your home should have a solid wood or metal core and a deadbolt lock in addition to an in-knob lock.
It is also important that door hinges are located on the inside of your home and not accessible from the exterior. Removing a door is a fairly simple process and giving thieves access to your hinges allows them to quickly and easily pull down your door.
Even the most secure lock won’t offer any protection if a thief can just knock it out of your door. That is why any wood doors should be inspected yearly for signs of rot. Rot can quickly become a problem particularly in old homes and homes in humid areas, but with proper maintenance and prevention, a solid wood door can provide years of excellent protection.
One break-in technique that has gained a lot of attention from the media in recent years is lock bumping. It’s a simple and effective entry technique for cylinder locks that works by inserting a blank bump key into the lock and delivering a blow to the key. This blow or bump causes the pins inside the lock to jump upwards, allowing the lock to be opened by quickly turning the key.
It comes as no surprise that a growing number of homeowners are being victimized by lock bumping as nearly 90% of locks in America are susceptible to this simple technique that leaves little to no evidence of forced entry. The lack of evidence for forced entry can make it difficult to prove, in the eyes of your insurance company, that it was a thief who stole your possessions, making collecting on claims a difficult and frustrating process. We suggest you check with your home insurance provider to find out if you are covered even if there are no signs of forced entry.
Because of how effective this method is, more homeowners need to be aware of how to best protect their homes from lock bumping. Because the process is usually noisy and may take several attempts, ensuring that your doors are well lit and exposed can be enough to discourage a burglar from trying to bump your door. Simply put, the longer a burglar has to be exposed and out in the open, the less likely they are to target your home.
While making sure all your doors are well lit and exposed is helpful, the best protection against bumping is to install a bump-proof lock. There are several different types of locks that have been designed to be immune to lock bumping. Most commonly these locks will have security pins which are placed in a circle all around the cylinder rather than in a row at the top. Having one of these locks installed is your best bet to stand up to lock bumping and keep your home secure.
Many homeowners do not focus on their windows as much as they should but burglars will certainly always be sure to give them the attention they deserve. For starters, homeowners need to remember to keep their windows locked just like their doors. It seems obvious but many people do not think to check their windows as often as their front door.
Generally speaking, it is better to have more than just standard glass in your windows. Some of your alternative options include adding a wire mesh to the window or using an enhanced type of glass, the two main types being tempered and plastic-glazed glass (or polycarbonate glass). There also is the additional option of laminated glass. The first two share some similar benefits and are easy to install yourself. However, laminated glass should always be installed by a professional as it is a more difficult installation process.
Windows with wire meshes often break somewhat easier. However, small pieces of the broken glass in the mesh when shattered makes it extremely difficult to enter after breaking. Both types of enhanced glass mentioned above offer the added benefit of glass that is many times stronger than standard windows. Polycarbonate glass offers the best protection available as this glass is tested to resist even breaking with a hammer or axe. Some savvy home security experts install this type of glass in all windows within an arm’s reach of a door preventing thieves from simply smashing a window and letting themselves in.
It is also worth noting that many standard locks on windows are not as strong or secure as you might think. The locks that come on many double-hung, sliding, and crank windows can easily be broken and do a poor job preventing burglars from entering your home. Luckily, there are some easy solutions to these problems.
Double-hung windows can be secured inexpensively by installing a lag-screw system. To install, pre-drill the sashes and insert the screws through recessed washers. Tighten the screws with the special key that should have come with the purchase. Make sure the screws don’t go all the way through the upper sash as they will let in outside air. Making a few more holes on the upper sash will allow you to lock the window partway open.
Casement windows, or “crank” windows can be secured with a simple lock. These locks are easy to install and can dramatically improve the safety of your home.
When it comes to securing sliding windows, you should consider installing a charley bar that rests between the edge of the window and window fram. These bars are simple to install and are designed to prevent burglars from sliding your window off its tracks and out of the frame.
Lastly, you need to be aware of the conditions in your neighborhood. Some neighborhoods or homes are located in more crime prone areas, and in these cases, extra precautions might be necessary. A good bet is to look at your neighbor’s homes or local businesses to see if they have installed security bars or metal shutters. Usually, if the rest of your neighbors are doing something, it is a pretty good sign that you should too. When thieves are on the prowl looking for a home to target, the only home on the block without security bars is going to be on the top of the list. While we generally dislike these improvements (they can make rooms impossible to escape in a fire), we suggest that you consider your personal situation to decide if they are right for you.
Criminals are always looking for signs that a house is being left unattended for extended periods of time. Two of the first things a criminal looks for are built-up mail and an unkempt lawn. Keeping your lawn trimmed, picking up newspapers, and emptying your mailbox are all simple ways of telling a burglar that you are around and keeping a close eye on things. That’s why you should always make arrangements to have your yard maintained and mail picked up when you’re out of town.
There are more permanent lawn improvements that you can and should make to walkways, trees, and bushes to discourage thieves from targeting your home. Plant thorny bushes or install gravel around your walls and windows. Thieves will be much less inclined to climb through a rosebush than stomp over your tulips. Placing noisy gravel as well can alert you to anyone walking around the outside of your home. Thieves hate making noise as they skulk about and will often give these homes a pass to go prey on easier targets.
You also need to remember to keep your neighbors in mind when looking around your yard. Dense tree coverage and tall hedges may offer privacy but they can also hide a thief from your neighbor’s watchful eyes. Try to trim back any of your branches to give all of your neighbors a clear view. Any hedges or shrubs should be kept to a waist high level. When pruning trees, be sure to trim any large branches that extend over your roof and prune any large branches below 7 feet. This will keep thieves from climbing up trees to access your second story windows or roof. It also comes with the added benefit of keeping pests such as raccoons or opossums from climbing on top of your home.
Lastly, remember to keep security in mind when installing fences around your yard. Fences should be sheer facing the outside and locked securely from the inside. Fences under 7 feet tall are also not recommended if they block the view from your neighbors. An adult male can usually scale shorter fences which once inside, only serve to shield him from your neighbors’ view.
You and Your Family
This last section of our guide focuses on the different ways you can protect your family in your home and beyond. We understand that not every safety problem in the home can be solved with a high-tech security device but instead can be prevented with a little common sense and by exercising care.
We’ve collected some of what we thought were the best safety tips that will apply to many areas of your life, such as child care, severe weather preparedness and senior living. If you have any tips or suggestions for different aspects of family safety that you think we should include, please feel free to let us know.
Every homeowner, whether in a neighborhood or an apartment complex, should be aware that if there is a community watch program. These programs can be incredibly effective at discouraging potential burglars from areas where citizens patrol and keep an eye out for each other. If there isn’t already a watch program where you live, you should consider organizing one. Not only do these programs reduce the rate of crime but they can also be effective at catching a break-in that is in progress.
Similar to neighborhood watch programs, many communities have “Safe Haven” networks set up with several members of the community. These programs are usually set up for parents with children in a community to identify trusted adults that they can go to in the event of an emergency. If a safe haven program has already been set up in your neighborhood, get to know the members and talk to your children about how it works so that they will know where they can go in an emergency.
Your neighbors are always one of your best assets when it comes to protecting your family. If you haven’t yet had the chance to meet your neighbors, consider throwing a block party or a reception in the lobby of your building. This will provide you with a great chance to get to meet your neighbors and introduce your family to them. Keep a list of any of your neighbors’ numbers next to the phone so that you can have them handy if you need to get in touch quickly. Your list next to the phone should also include emergency numbers such as family contacts or poison control.
As part of the casing process, some thieves will try to find out information about who lives in your home or what is inside. Always be sure to shred any paper documents before throwing them away, and dispose of packaging for expensive things carefully. Some thieves have been known to dig through trash to look for credit card statements or other personal information that can be used to steal your identity, and advertising that you have recently bought a new HDTV only serves to let thieves know that your house is worth stealing from.
Severe Weather Safety
Every year Americans lose their lives to natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornados. While sometimes it is impossible to be prepared for everything, this section of our guide focuses on ways to keep your family safe in extreme weather and how to best prepare for an incoming disaster. For more detailed information on severe weather safety and preparation, visit our guide to natural disaster & severe weather safety.
As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared”. The best way that you will protect your family in a disaster is to be prepared and this means having a plan. Depending on where you live, you may be in a high-risk zone for one or more types of natural disasters. The first thing you should do when moving to a new area or making a new plan is to do some research and find out what kind of weather you might need to prepare for. For many Americans it is reasonable to have at least some sort of plan for tornados, floods, or hurricanes.
The next thing you need to do is make sure you have some way to be aware. Severe weather warnings are broadcast to interrupt TV and radio and now most cell phones will receive updates as well. Make sure you have some way to receive these updates. If you don’t have any method to get these updates at home or it is likely that you will miss them, consider purchasing an emergency weather radio. These radios are fairly cheap and are constantly set to pick up emergency broadcasts. Knowing when you need to take shelter can save your family’s lives in a matter of minutes.
When you know what type of weather you need to prepare for and have secured a method to hear emergency broadcasts, you should prepare an emergency weather kit. This kit should have everything that you and your family will need to survive for a few days if you are unable to leave your home. A well-prepared kit should include:
- Water (At least one gallon per person for 3 days)
- Food (3 day’s supply of non-perishable food)
- A battery-powered radio
- Flashlights and batteries
- A first aid kit (make sure to include any important lifesaving medicines you may need, e.g., Inhalers, EpiPens, Insulin, etc.)
- Moist towelettes, hand soap, and garbage bags for sanitation
- A whistle to signal for help
- Pliers (to shut off utilities)
- A manual can opener
- Local Maps
- Items to suit any other personal medical need
Having a kit prepared will help your family to keep inside and out of danger until emergency responders can arrive. Remember to always comply with instructions from emergency personnel. If you require rescuing or assisted evacuation, you need to do everything you can to move as quickly and calmly as possible for your own protection. The next sections of our guide focus on some specific information for some different kinds of disasters. For additional information and resources, visit ready.gov.
Tornados are incredibly devastating and can have wind speeds of over 300mph and can be as wide as up to 2 miles across. What makes them particularly deadly is that unlike a hurricane, tornados can strike with little warning and cause extreme devastation in only minutes.
The best way to stay safe during a tornado is to know that it is coming. Even a warning a few minutes ahead is enough time to quickly move your family into a shelter. If you are caught on the road and see a tornado coming, it is possible to drive away from it by moving at 90⁰ angles to the path of the funnel. However, this should only be a last resort if you will not be able to get to the shelter in time. Being caught in a car in a tornado is extremely dangerous and whenever possible, you should attempt to exit your vehicle and take shelter indoors.
When taking cover inside, always move quickly to the centermost room in the building on the ground floor. Many public areas will have clearly marked storm shelters, usually in the bathrooms. In your own home the best locations are usually under the stairs or in a first floor restroom.
You should always stay away from windows when taking shelter. Tornados can blow debris through your windows which can easily shatter them and the broken glass can cause severe injury or death. If there are no windowless rooms in your home, taking shelter under a mattress or heavy blankets can help to reduce the risk of being cut by glass. Once you have moved into cover, you should lie face down with your head near the wall and your arms over your head. This is the best position to keep your vital organs safe.
If you find yourself outside and cannot take shelter in a building, you should run to a wide, open, flat area. Make sure to stay far away from any cars or trees which can be picked up and blown into you. Once you have found somewhere, take cover in the same way with your body lying flat on the ground, facing down, with your hands on your head. Doing this will give you the best chances for survival as the tornado passes through the area.
If tornados are extremely common in your area, such as in Tornado Alley, it may be wise to install a severe weather shelter if your home does not offer adequate protection. There are options to install either above or below-ground shelters and both are very effective at protecting your family in severe storms.
Severe floods are the #1 cause of death from severe weather in the United States every year. Floods are capable of causing expensive property damage as well as injury and loss of life if adequate precautions are not taken. Like all types of disasters, preparation should include having an emergency kit ready as floods often leave roads inaccessible, sometimes for several days.
If your home lies in a floodplain you should be sure to have it evaluated for flood preparedness. Some preparations include checking to see that utilities will not be knocked out by flooding or that barriers will divert the floodwaters from around your home. You should also be sure to make sure that flood waters are not able to back up into your pipes. This can cause pipes to burst or overflow, causing severe water damage to your home.
Flash flooding can occur in a few seconds and is one of the most dangerous aspects of a flood. If you are aware of a risk of flash flooding, you should move immediately to higher ground. Be careful when trying to escape floodwaters by car as well. Never take the risk of driving into flowing water. Only 6 inches of moving water can pick up your car and carry it away. This can be especially dangerous if it takes you into deeper waters as your car can quickly begin to sink, trapping you inside.
If you are forced by flooding to abandon your home, try to turn off the utilities before leaving to prevent further damage. Only return home when emergency workers have determined it is safe to do so. Many people become victims after the initial flood has passed by trying to move through dangerous areas.
Fortunately, unlike other types of disasters, hurricanes are much easier to predict, giving your family extra time to prepare for them. This also allows your family the opportunity to evacuate the area before the storm makes landfall. Whenever possible you should obey any orders to evacuate. Though it is inconvenient for anyone, many victims of severe storms could have been saved if they had evacuated sooner. When it comes to evacuation do not wait. As soon as you decide to leave the area, make your preparations and go. Roads will be extremely crowded away from the area, and you can expect that it will take a long time. If you wait until the last day, you may not have time to get to safety.
If you are forced to remain at home, there are several preparations that you can make to minimize the damage to your home and protect your family. Start by covering all of the windows in your home. Storm shutters are the best option if you already have them. If not, covering your windows with 5/8 inch thick plywood is your next best option.
During the storm, take shelter with your family in the most sheltered room in your home. Be prepared to wait through the storm as emergency responders move into the area to assist in the aftermath. Don’t drive after the storm unless absolutely necessary to keep the roads clear for emergency responders.
When storing medications in the home, be sure to take proper precautions to prevent accidental ingestion of the wrong medication or dosage. All pills should be kept in their original containers and in childproof bottles if there are children in your home. Try and be sure that your medicine cabinet is out of reach and also locked to keep any small children in your home safe. If you or your child accidentally take the wrong medication, contact Poison Control immediately at 1-(800) 222-1222.
Set up your medicine cabinet to be in a well-lit area so that you are able to easily read the labels and instructions. Never take medicine in the dark as it is easy to mistakenly take the wrong medication. Remember that any medication can become dangerous when taken improperly. Never take more than the recommended dose of any medicine.
Children can be a joy but having kids around the house requires that extra precautions be made to keep them safe. Above all else, know where your kids are and who they are with. The best way to keep your kids safe is to be present while they are out and about. Find ways to actively participate with them while out to keep an eye on them.
It isn’t always possible to personally watch your kids, so when you can’t be around, make sure you know an adult who will be present and make sure you have their phone number. If there should be any sort of incident or you need to get in touch quickly, always make sure you have a way to reach your kids or their chaperon. Before you take your kids out of the house, make sure that they know your home and mobile phone numbers. If your child should become lost or separated from you, they will need to be able to tell police or security how to get in contact with you.
When your kids are old enough to go out on their own, teach them to always tell you where they are going before they leave. Even as your kids become teens, make sure you always have an idea of where they are going and how long they will be gone. Make sure that your kids also know to use the buddy system wherever they go. Even when walking to school, your kids should know about safety in numbers.
Finally, in the home there are many things that can be harmful to children that need to be taken care of. Always keep any guns locked, unloaded in a safe. Accidental injuries and deaths from guns are not uncommon and can easily be prevented by taking proper precautions. Be sure to keep any cleaning agents, poisons, or medicines locked away or out of reach as well. Many small children have ingested toxic chemicals mistakenly, thinking they were candy.
As you or your parents prepare for senior living, there are several specific concerns that you should be certain to address. Accidental falls are one of the most dangerous accidents in the home and seniors are at the most at-risk group for this type of injury.
When moving into a home, be sure to tape down any electrical cords that cause you to slip or fall. Be sure to also put nonslip pads under any rugs which may bunch or slide while walking on them. Grab bars in the shower and bath can help to catch you if you fall and also can help you move from sitting to standing positions.
If you are concerned about falls in the bathroom or shower, consider having a walk-in shower installed as well as anti-slip pads put on the floor. The ridges on these pads provide extra friction to help prevent any falls. To prevent scalding in the shower, you can also set your water heater to 120⁰F or less to help mitigate burns that may occur if you fall with the hot water on.
If you are concerned about your ability to call for help or you live alone, it may be worth considering a personal monitoring system or personal alarm that you can trigger to get help. Options range from small personal alert devices worn around the neck, to pull chains installed in rooms that can be reached from the floor. Consider the level of care that you need and make sure that you have peace of mind in the comforts of your home.
One of the most commonly targeted items for theft is your smartphone or laptop. Criminals today are keeping up with the times by targeting your high-tech devices. Not only do these devices offer the potential for an easy payout at a pawn shop, but in the wrong hands, if your device is not properly secured, thieves can pull important info and documents from your device, including your social security number and credit card info.
One of the most important things you should do when you get a new electronic device is to set a password to protect it. Even a 4 digit PIN to unlock your phone or device can stump thieves and keep them out of your phone. Some high tech thieves use electronic help such as password breakers to gain access to your device once it has been taken. Setting a long unique password is the best way to ensure first that no one can guess it, and second, to ensure that it cannot be easily decoded. A good password should be anywhere from 8 to 16 characters and incorporate upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols. Setting a complex password like this can make sure that your password takes too long to crack that most criminals won’t even bother trying.
Beyond just a password for your device, you need to make sure that you set unique passwords for each site that you frequently use. (Such as your email, bank, or credit card sites) One of the most dangerous things a user can do is to either set multiple sites with the same password or to set their device to auto-login. This means that instead of having to break a new password for each function, a hacker only needs to nab one password for complete access to your life.
Every day millions of Americans travel by car on their way to school or work. Accidents are bound to happen but you can make sure to keep your family safe by following some basic safety principles. Above all else, always wear your seatbelt and never allow anyone to drive who is intoxicated. Simply wearing a seatbelt has the ability to dramatically increase your chances of survival and avoid injury in a crash. And if you want to avoid the crash in the first place, remember to always make sure the driver is sober. Thousands of Americans die every year on the road, usually as a result of failing to do one of these two things.
When taking care of your car, remember that basic maintenance and care can keep your car on the road longer and prevent a malfunction or breakdown on the highway. Always make sure your tires are kept at the proper air pressure. (It should be marked on the tire) Keeping tires inflated not only helps your car get more MPG but also makes your car respond better when steering.
If the roads are icy try not to drive if you are not prepared. Many drivers, particularly in the south, are not accustomed to driving on slick roads. If you are not comfortable driving, do not get on icy roads. Even experienced drivers should keep their driving to a minimum while roads are icy. It’s important to remember as well before getting on the road to defrost your windows, mirrors, and lights. Never use hot water to defrost as the difference in the temperature can cause your windows to shatter.
If you are concerned about someone breaking into your car or stealing your vehicle, there are several things you can do. Never leave valuables in plain sight within your car. Thieves have been known to break windows just to reach in and grab a briefcase or laptop from the seat. Always make sure to roll up your windows completely and shut your sunroof. Many people will lock their doors but forget to roll the windows up completely which can let a thief into your vehicle just as easily.
To protect yourself against vehicle theft, you can consider installing a GPS tracker on your vehicle. These devices can let you know when your car has been moved, where to, and how fast it is going. These trackers are one of the best tools in assisting police to recover your stolen vehicle. Some parents also use GPS trackers to keep track of their kids when driving, and many can be programmed to send a text alert when the car is speeding.