Thursday, June 26, 2008

101 Home Safety and Security Tasks

*Note that this post was originally titled "76 Home Safety/Security Tasks" when it was published on June 26, 2008. It was updated with an additional 25 tasks on June 27, 2008.

How safe is your home? If you have a bit of spare time this summer, take this list and make sure you do all that you can to make your home and family as safe and secure as possible.
  1. Take your name off of your mailbox and leave only your address.
  2. Repair any wobbly steps or handrails on the exterior of your home.
  3. Be sure your home address (or at least the numbers) are clearly marked for emergency responders.
  4. Plant roses, cacti, or other prickly shrubs below your exterior windows.
  5. Install motion detector lights on the exterior of your home.
  6. Power wash dirty/oily/mossy/otherwise slick driveways and walkways.
  7. Put fresh batteries in all of your smoke detectors.
  8. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  9. Re-key all exterior and critical interior door locks.
  10. Check to make sure the fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage are fully charged.
  11. Have the chimney cleaned.
  12. Have the furnace tuned up/serviced; have your heating ducts cleaned.
  13. Check all windows for cracks and other damage; replace if necessary.
  14. Check all window locks to make sure they are secure.
  15. Check your fence and fix/replace any missing boards, rotting posts, or broken barbed wire.
  16. Clear a fire-safe zone around your home. Clear out brush, dried grass, and other flammables.
  17. Organize your tool shed. Clean tools, make sure there is a secure location for all tools, and make sure the lock on your tool shed is secure.
  18. Clean out your gun safe. Rotate ammo, clean all of your weapons, etc.
  19. Be sure there is a secure metal bucket in the garage for all of your oily shop rags.
  20. Take this opportunity to weatherproof your home as much as possible (re-caulk windows, add insulation, etc).
  21. Check all electrical outlets and make sure they are not overloaded, there are no frayed cords connected, and all surge protectors work.
  22. Change your answering machine message to a generic phone-number-only message.
  23. Do a quick review of all plumbing (now is a good time to fix leaks, replace toilet gaskets, etc).
  24. Clean the grease catcher/fan above your stove.
  25. Clean the roof and gutters (carefully!).
  26. Check all crawlspace and attic vent screens and make repairs if necessary.
  27. Check the exterior of your home and basement for cracks in the foundation; repair if necessary.
  28. Install anti-scald devices on your showers/bathtubs.
  29. Secure all poisons in one lockable cabinet.
  30. Clean out and organize your tool chest.
  31. Check any vessels outside that can hold water (old tires, large plant pots, etc)--empty the water out and place them so they cannot collect water (and the mosquitoes that go along with it).
  32. Routinely screen your pets, kids, and SO for ticks; know how to safely remove these dangerous pests.
  33. Put a couple of lamps on timers set to go on and off at random times for security purposes.
  34. Check out the pool, tennis court, basketball court, other play areas and fix any defects (cracks, lose netting, etc).
  35. Remove/fix tripping hazards--loose rugs, loose stair risers, wobbly handrails, etc.
  36. Install handrails in the bathroom if you have elderly or less mobile people in your home; this prevents falls.
  37. Switch out your chemical cleaning supplies for natural products (baking soda, lemon juice, etc) that are both safer and cheaper.
  38. Service your hot water tank--clean out scale build-up and the sediment that collects in the bottom (do this very carefully or hire a professional).
  39. Check the attic and around the chimney/skylights for leaks and repair if necessary.
  40. If you have babies, small children, or grandchildren who visit, child-proof your home.
  41. Clear out the clutter! Huge quantities of junk/clutter in your home can be a fall hazard as well as a fire hazard.
  42. Replace burned out light bulbs and non-working light switches.
  43. Install non-slip strips on slippery surfaces: bathtub, wood stairs, etc.
  44. Lower the water temperature on your hot water tank to 120 degrees--this prevents scalds and lowers your water heating bill.
  45. Keep a phone by your bed (either land line or cell) for emergencies.
  46. Have a way to record phone calls in the event of harassment.
  47. Be sure drapes and curtains don't touch the baseboard heaters and that the cord for raising and lowering the curtains is not the old loop kind which is a strangulation hazard.
  48. If you have framed pictures/other heavy things above the bed, remove them and put up cloth decorations if needed as a way to prevent injuries during an earthquake.
  49. If you live in earthquake country, secure all large furniture/appliances (bookcases, etc) and your hot water tank.
  50. Make sure all electrical outlets near water (the sink, tub, etc) are GFI outlets.
  51. If you have concerns, have your home tested for radon, lead, mold, asbestos, etc.
  52. Check your medicine cabinet and get rid of unnecessary or expired meds, and secure drugs that should be under lock and key in a secure location.
  53. If you have a liquor cabinet and you have teens; get a good lock for it.
  54. Install a home security system.
  55. Put deadbolt locks and peepholes on all exterior doors.
  56. If you don't have a water-proof, fire-proof safe for your cash and important documents, get one (and bolt it to the floor).
  57. Take extra steps to secure sliding glass doors, pet doors, and any glass windows near your front door (glass breakage detectors, automatic pet door locks, etc).
  58. Install flood lights in dark, secluded areas.
  59. Have a shredder and make sure everyone uses it religiously to protect their privacy.
  60. Park your cars in your garage instead of leaving them exposed in a driveway or on the street.
  61. If you have a central place to hang your keys, locate it in a closet or other out of the way place so a burglar can't just pick them up on their way through your house.
  62. Have shelter-in-place supplies on hand: plastic sheeting, duct, tape, etc.
  63. Check out your stored food and look for signs of bug or rodent infestation; take steps to prevent this.
  64. Check your home for termite or other bug/animal damage and take steps to prevent these types of problems; repair any destruction to your home.
  65. Keep a tool in an obvious location to shut off the water and gas during an emergency.
  66. Install a whole house water purification system if necessary.
  67. Relegate candles to the dinner table and emergency supply box; candles in bedrooms and other rooms are a very common cause of house fires.
  68. Make it a rule to not smoke or wear shoes in the house (both are a health hazard) but keep shoes under each person's bed for emergency escape.
  69. If you live in hurricane country, keep supplies to secure your home (plywood sheeting, etc) stored on your property.
  70. Keep a lengthy water hose on standby during fire season to wet down your home and property if fire threatens.
  71. Have a dog for security. The disclaimer here is you need to like dogs and commit to caring for and training the animal.
  72. Install a warning system that will alert the neighbors to trouble (flashing light, SOS message, etc).
  73. Determine a balance between privacy (high fence, lots of shrubs) versus safety (lower fences and trimmed shrubs that don't obstruct the view to your home.
  74. Make sure you have comprehensive insurance for your home (liability, flood insurance if needed, replacement costs for your home and valuables, etc).
  75. Be sure that your cordless phone and/or baby monitor are not broadcasting your business all over the neighborhood.
  76. Never store gasoline or other highly flammable materials in your home. Use an outbuilding and proper storage techniques for this.
  77. Ensure that all second floor and higher bedrooms have a way to escape out the window in the event of fire (have an escape ladder or knotted rope attached to the bottom of the bedpost).
  78. If you live in an apartment, devise a way to see if anyone enters your apartment while you are gone (landlords are supposed to give written notice before entry except in an emergency but sometimes that doesn’t happen).
  79. Put a simple slide bolt on the entry doors to your attic and crawlspace to prevent people from entering your house in these ways.
  80. Keep an axe in your attic. In case you need to escape through the attic, you will be able to make your way out.
  81. If there is the possibility of flooding in your area, put all sensitive appliances (ie: furnace, hot water tank, etc) up on blocks.
  82. Make sure your generator is both hooked up properly (so the linemen won’t get electrocuted when they restore your power) and vented properly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.
  83. If you keep a firearm near your bed for protection and have children in your home, consider getting a quick access gun safe to keep the handgun out of the hands of curious children.
  84. Set the kid’s computer up in a public area (family room, dining room) instead of letting them lock themselves away in their bedrooms with it—allowing strangers in your home via the internet can be dangerous.
  85. Have privacy and safety rules for everyone in the family who uses the internet including web pages, MySpace pages, instant messages, etc. In order to guard the family’s privacy, never give out names, phone numbers, names of schools or other places a stranger could track down your kids, never meet anyone from a chat room without adequate safety procedures, etc.
  86. Preserve DNA samples and fingerprints of all family members to use in the event of an abduction/other emergency. Here’s how:
  87. Install a durable metal screen door that lock. Keep the screen door locked so that when you open your door to a stranger you will still have a sturdy locked door between you.
  88. Have a code word to alert everyone in the family to an emergency. Practice various drills with the use of this word such as a lock down drill, a fire escape drill, etc.
  89. If you work on cars or other combustion-type engines in your garage, install a ventilation system to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  90. Keep your garbage in a secured area and bring it to the curb as close to pick up time as possible.
  91. Make sure that everything you sell on EBay or at a garage sale contains no information about you or your family--delete photos from cameras, wipe the hard drive of your computer, delete all messages and numbers from cellphones, check pockets in clothes, etc.
  92. Keep all of your emergency supplies in a large waterproof tub near the exterior garage door. This will allow you to load the tub in your car if you need to evacuate in a hurry and if your house falls down you won't have to dig too far into the mess to find your tub.
  93. Have back up systems that will allow you to use things that usually run on a motor in case of power failure (ie: the well, the garage door opener).
  94. If necessary (or suspected) have your home swept for bugs (not the living kind). Audio and video surveillance components are smaller and cheaper than ever and easily accessible to someone who may want to harm you financially or socially.
  95. Consider using micro chips to protect your valuable assets such as pets, livestock, high end electronics, expensive pieces of art, etc.
  96. Consider creating a "panic room" in your home. How elaborate it is depends on your needs and security vulnerability.
  97. Adequately post warning signs on your property (no trespassing, beware of dog, no solicitors, etc).
  98. Keep all mail, bills, credit card statements, checkbooks, and other items with your personal information on them in a locked drawer instead of out on the counter.
  99. Install an air purification system in your home if needed. At a minimum, keep your duct work cleaned to avoid spreading allergens and dust.
  100. Keep $1,000 cash in your home for use during an emergency. Of course, no one should know about this cash--it should just appear when needed.
  101. Develop a play area for your children somewhere other than the driveway. With so many big SUVs on the road today, running over or backing over children who are playing in the driveway has reached epidemic proportions.


  1. Thanks....I found several items I was lacking.

    Will take care of them RIGHT NOW.

  2. These are simple things that can be done by almost anyone. Thanks.