Becoming a homeowner is exciting and in many ways seen as a rite of passage to adulthood and independence. First-time homeowners are at a much higher risk for break-ins, burglaries, and other security risks.
It’s easy to get so caught up in decorating and unpacking that you forget to invest in a reliable home security system. Rather than let yourself be caught off guard in the face of an emergency, take some time to look into your options for making your home safer for you and your loved ones.
However, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the many options available to you in today’s market, so we created this handy guide to help you make an informed decision.
Learn More About the Neighborhood
Safety starts with awareness. Some neighborhoods experience higher crime rates than others and this information can easily be found online. Find out if there have been any past incidents of break-ins, theft, or more serious criminal activity like arson. Take some time to become familiar with your new surroundings.
If you become familiar with your neighborhood you will be able to quickly pick up on when something is amiss. Take a walk around the area at night and to see how safe you feel. Drive around during the day and again at night, making note of important things like when your neighbors are usually home, how many people live there, and the cars they drive.
Introducing yourself to your neighbors will also be helpful, as neighbors who know each other are more likely to look out for one another. You don’t have to become close friends or attend their weekly cookouts, but the more they know about you and your habits the better they’ll be able to keep an eye out for trouble. If your dog is barking loudly and they know you aren’t home, they’ll be more inclined to make sure everything is okay in your absence.
Stay Up-to-Date By Performing a Security Audit
Replace the locks and keys for every exterior door and window. You don’t know the last time the previous owners did it, and you don’t know who might have a copy of the keys. Consider upgrading to smart locks and install deadbolts on every exterior door.
Check the windows and walls for smaller defects like loose screws and cracks; though they may seem minor, they can be exploited by someone trying to break in or contribute to a safety hazard later on. Ensure smoke alarms are properly installed near bedrooms and in common areas but away from windows, vents, or anything else that could interfere with their functionality.
Replace their batteries and the batteries in carbon monoxide detectors, then perform tests on all of them. If you have a fire extinguisher make sure you know how to use it and that it’s properly stored. Check all sinks, faucets, showers, tubs, toilets, pipes, coolers, water heaters, and water softeners for potential leaks. Install a lock on your garage as well if you have one.
Install Home Security
Security systems are available with many options to cater to your home’s needs. They offer the ability to check in on your home while you are away, sound alarms if there is an intruder, and notify you if there is suspicious activity. They can be as simple as an alarm system and can even be paired with security cameras and other devices.
Security cameras are a great investment in your new home. Security cameras serve two purposes. They act as a deterrent for criminals and provide a means of identifying them if they enter your property. Indoor cameras also work well in homes with young children and elderly people. Many come with night vision capabilities, and newer models can be synced with your smartphone so you can check footage when you’re away from home.
Find one that has audio capabilities as they will be the most useful if you ever need to share footage with local authorities. Newer cameras also include features like motion detectors and sirens for more effective home alarm systems.
Other Home Security Options
If you are interested in starting your home with small, yet effective devices, there are several great options for someone new to owning a home. A great way to ensure the security of your doors is video doorbell cameras.
They provide a way to see who or what has been on your front porch or street while you are away. These simple yet effective devices create peace of mind and can be connected to other devices if you decide to increase your home security later on.
Every part of the country has different natural disasters it commonly faces like earthquakes, hurricanes, and blizzards. Become familiar with what to do in these emergencies, especially if you’re new to the region and have no prior experience with them.
Make sure everyone in your home knows the emergency plan too, including children. Know the location of local shelters, hospitals, fire stations, police stations, and other resources in the area. It can be beneficial to keep a list of said addresses and phone numbers of these places in case of an emergency.
One of the easiest ways to give yourself some peace of mind is to look into home automation. Remote controls and real-time alerts on your smartphone make it possible for you to always know what’s going on in your home and stay in control even while away.
You can also schedule lights to turn on or off, use a smart doorbell with two-way talk and facial recognition, cancel a false alarm on your fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector, and install special features for the elderly or disabled.
Security cameras are technically a part of home automation, but even if you elect not to automate the rest of your home you should still invest in home security.
Ultimately, the best home security system is going to vary by where you live, how big your home is, and how many people you live with. If you’re not sure where you start, your new neighbors may have some insight for you.
Before making a decision, it is essential to do your research on the best security cameras, motion sensors, DIY installation systems, or professional security systems. Don’t look at your home security system as an expense, but as an investment for the safety of your home and insurance to your peace of mind.