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Home Safety Checklist

Among the many issues pressing for the attention of homeowners or renters, home security is one that often garners little attention. Unfortunately, the seriousness of this oversight is not usually apparent until the occurrence of an incident such as a burglary or vandalization. But, like investing, when it comes to home security and prevention, it is never too late to start.

Basic home security involves ensuring that your home is protected from outside forces, such as intruders or vandals. It is important to remember however that, in this case, the term "home" refers to more than just the structure itself. It also encompasses the area surrounding your home, which includes your back and front yards, garage and/or shed, your pool area, etc.
Index
 
Exterior Doors
Garage Door and Sliding Door Security
Windows
Outside Security
Valuables and Personal Property
Security when away from home or on vacation
Apartments
 

It should also be kept in mind that home security should be put in place and maintained not only when you are away from your dwelling but also when you are at home. While your home is more vulnerable when you are away from them, your presence does not entirely negate the possibility of the occurrence of burglaries or thefts.
Use this handy home security checklist to determine the areas that have adequate home security as well as the ones that require more attention. The majority of these tips also apply to those living in apartments however a special section has been included to address situations specific to these locations.

Exterior Doors
l All doors should be made of solid hardwood or metal and should be at least 1 " thick.
l Doors and frames should be strong enough to withstand excessive force. Doors should fit the frames snugly.
l Glass panes in and beside doors should be reinforced with security film or burglar-resistant glazing.
l If possible, door hinges should be located on the inside of the house. Any hinges that are accessible from the outside should be pinned to prevent removal.
l Hinged doors should be secured with a quality keyed lock as well as a deadbolt. The deadbolt should extend 1" beyond the edge of the door and should enter a strike plate that is secured with a minimum of four screws. Screws should be at least 3" long and should extend at least 1" into the wall stud.
l Wide angle peepholes should be installed in all exterior doors and should be accessible to all ages.
l All exterior doors should be locked at night and when house is unoccupied. Locks can not be effective if they are not used.
l Door locks should be located at least 40" away from glass. If not, the glass can be smashed and the lock can be opened by reaching inside.
Garage Door and Sliding Door Security
l Sliding glass doors should have strong, working key locks.
l Anti-lift and anti-slide devices should be installed with sliding glass doors to prevent them from being removed from their track. A metal rod or cut-down hockey stick placed on the inside bottom track of a sliding door will prevent the door from sliding if lock is pried open.
l All sliding doors should be secured and locked at night and when the house is left unoccupied.
l Overhead garage doors should have a strong locking mechanism. Automatic garage door openers should not be relied on to provide adequate security.
l Overhead garage doors should be closed and locked when not in use, at night, and when house is unoccupied.
l The doors that connect an attached garage to the house and to the exterior should be made of solid hardwood or metal and should be secured by a working key lock and deadbolt similar to all exterior doors.
l Doors leading to the exterior or connecting to the house should be kept locked when not in use.

Windows
l All windows should have keyed locks or should be fitted with security pins or nails in addition to standard latches for added security.
l Windows that have been opened for ventilation should be secured in place.
l Basement windows should have extra protection, such as metal bars or should be made of burglar-resistant glazing to discourage intruders. However, if metal bars are installed, they should have a quick release mechanism to ensure easy escape in case of fire.
l Air conditioners that have been placed in windows should be secured from the inside to prevent removal.

Outside Security
l Trees, shrubs and bushes should be kept trimmed, especially if obstructing the view of doors and windows. This will reduce the possibility of becoming a hiding place for burglars or vandals.
l Ensure that a bright, working light is located outside each exterior door. This will allow visitors to be clearly identified before entering.
l Install floodlights or a motion-sensitive lighting system in large areas, such as backyards, to eliminate any dark spots or corners where prowlers may lurk.
l Ensure that outdoor lights are turned on in the evening regardless of whether the house is occupied. This may lead would-be thieves to pass by your house, thinking that someone is home.
l Avoid using trellises under windows. These may give burglars the leverage they need to break in.
l Be sure to lock away tools and ladders that may stolen or used by a thief in a burglary.
l Ensure that the house number is illuminated or clearly visible so that police or emergency vehicles can identify the house quickly.
l Spare house and garage keys should be kept in the possession of a trusted neighbour. They should not be placed under a planter or welcome mat or on a ledge as these are well known hiding spots and thieves can easily find them.
l Openings into the home, such pet doors, skylights and crawlspaces should be secured to prevent unauthorized entry.

Valuables and Personal Property
l Barbecues, lawn mowers, bicycles and other outdoor equipment should be stored in a locked garage or shed. If necessary to leave them out in the open, secure item to a stationary point with a good quality padlock and chain and cover with a tarp.
l An up-to-date inventory of valuable items, such as televisions, stereos and computers, should be kept in an alternate location (somewhere outside of the house).
l If firearms are to be kept in the house, ensure that they are stored unloaded and locked in a solid storage container.

Security when away from home or on vacation
l Ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your home and property while you are gone.
l Arrange for a neighbour or friend to cut your lawn or shovel the snow in your driveway or walkway. This gives the appearance that you are at home.
l Temporarily cancel any regular deliveries, such as newspapers, before you leave.
l Arrange to have someone collect your mail or ask the post office to hold it for you until you return.
l Place interior and exterior lights on timers and place window shades at daytime levels to give your home the appearance of being lived in.
l Place money and valuables in a secure location, such as a bank safety deposit box.
l Ensure that all windows and doors are locked before leaving.
l Leave a house key with someone you trust and have him or her check your home periodically while you are away. This may be required by your insurance company to keep your policy in effect.
l Activate the alarm system, if applicable.
l For added security, notify the local police of your departure and return dates.

Apartments
l Make an effort to get to know your neighbours so that you know who should be seen in the area around your apartment. Report any suspicious strangers to building security or police.
l Be aware of the specific security features in your building and make use of them.
l Do not place valuable items in storage areas. Lock storage areas with good quality padlocks.
l Be aware of your surroundings when walking in common areas, parking lots or underground parking areas. Use common laundry facilities with a friend or neighbour if possible.
l Get door locks rekeyed before moving into a new apartment.
l Install deadbolts on exterior doors. Chain locks do not provide adequate security.
l Install anti-lift and anti-slide devices on sliding balcony doors, especially if apartment is located on the ground floor. These apartments are the easiest for burglars to access.
l Look out for other tenants by ensuring that you do not allow any unauthorized person to enter through exterior locked security doors. Be sure of who it is that is requesting entrance before releasing door locks.
l Install and use wide-angle peepholes and make visitors identify themselves before opening your door.
l Keep curtains or blinds closed at night and do not tempt would-be thieves by placing valuable items near windows or glass doors. In most cases, the glass can easily be broken and items removed.
l Do not list your full name on apartment intercom systems or mailboxes. In most cases your first initial and last name or last name only will be sufficient.