January is the month for New Years’ Resolutions, and it’s the perfect time to revisit your home security strategy and safety planning for 2016. While there is nothing more important than the safety of your home and family, it can be challenging to know what changes you need to make and the areas in which you and your household can improve. Is this the year you’ll finally invest in a home security system, or does it make more sense to focus on smaller goals like fire safety and indoor air quality?
Here are some practical home safety resolutions for 2016 that are affordable, easy to implement, and, most importantly, will keep the people you love safe all year long.
1. Incorporate Smart Safety Products
2016 is the year to explore adding “smart” safety features to your home; locks, doorbells, smoke detectors, and even motion-triggered security lighting can be controlled from the convenience of your mobile phone or home automation hub. Bluetooth-enabled smart locks from trusted brands like Kwikset and August are very affordable, and can offer a higher level of security for the main entrances of your home. Smart sensors like the Nest Protect alert your phone when there is environmental danger, and test themselves to make sure they are always operational. To avoid being overwhelmed with options, try investigating two safety features in your home you’d like to improve with home automation in 2016 and focus on integrating these.
2. Check Your Sensors and Alarms Regularly
Perform operational tests and check the battery charge of all of the smoke, carbon monoxide, and radon sensors in your home. Smoke alarms and other household sensors are supposed to be checked once a month, but many homeowners and renters never test their alarms. Set a realistic schedule for testing your sensors and stick to it in 2016.
3. Maintain Healthy Air Quality
The average person spends over 90% of their time indoors, so the air quality of your home can definitely have an effect on your respiratory health. Take steps to improve the indoor air quality of your home this year by increasing ventilation, changing furnace and air vent filters regularly, and perhaps even purchasing a few air-scrubbing plants that oxygenate your home naturally.
4. Invest in a Home Security System
Home security is more affordable than ever in 2016. Many top brands now offer DIY installation packages that can be up-and-running in 24 hours, and monthly monitoring fees starting at just $15 per month. Security system features and pricing vary, so do your research and find a system that fits your budget and reflects the safety needs of your home and family.
5. Replace the Hide-a-key
While hide-a-key gadgets can seem convenient on the surface, in reality they are a beacon for burglars. There are far more crafty ways of hiding a spare key outside your home that attract less attention. Ideally, avoid placing a spare key outside your home and instead entrust one to a neighbor or friend in case you should accidentally lock yourself out.
6. Focus on Fire Safety
According to the National Fire protection Association, 369,500 homes burnt down in 2013. House fires are a preventable tragedy, but many home owners are not adequately prepared and do not own basic fire safety equipment. Educate yourself and your family about fire prevention tips and make sure you have one or more fire extinguishers on each floor of your home that are easily accessible to every member of your family.
7. Make a Plan for Natural Disasters
While we all hope that a natural disaster never affects our home, it’s best to prepare an emergency communication plan and educate your family about how to react in different types of emergency situations. Select a safe zone in your home where members of the household will meet during an emergency, and research which types of natural disasters are most likely to occur in your area and how to respond. Prepare a “Go Bag” for each member of the family, and decide on a safe place to meet outside the home should you have to seek shelter elsewhere.
8. Re-think Gun and Weapon Safety
If you store guns or other weapons in your home for recreation or self-defense, reconsider the security of your weapons from children and intruders. According to the Bureau of Justice, 1.4 million firearms were stolen during household burglaries from 2005 to 2015. Consider purchasing a gun and weapon safe for your home, and make sure to educate children about weapon safety.
9. Limit Online Updates When on Vacation
Many homeowners mistakenly think there is no link between their online activity and home security. In fact, many burglars and home intruders use your social media status and photo updates to predict your movements and determine the best time to enter your home. One study suggests that a shocking 78% of thieves monitor Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare before they pinpoint a specific house to rob. Avoid posting to social media when you are on vacation or will be away from your home for long periods of time.
10. Secure Hazardous Substances
Hazardous substances like medications, caustic chemicals, and reactive materials are a safety concern that is often overlooked and can prove deadly in homes with young children or pets. Avoid storing cleaning products and other chemicals in easily-accessible places like under the sink or on lower shelves in your pantry or garage. Keep chemicals in their original bottles or clearly label them when transferring to a new container. Also be careful where you keep medications, and try to place vitamins and other pills in child-safe bottles to avoid accidental overdose.
Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has passed, you finally have time to reflect and plan some practical home safety goals for your home in 2016. While it can be hard to know where to implement changes to improve security, these 10 home safety resolutions should help you on your way to a safer and happier new year.