Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and if you’re like most homeowners, you’re probably focused on decorating your space and getting to know your neighborhood. Maybe you’re spending a lot of your time adjusting to a new job or helping your kids get settled in school. What you’re probably not doing is thinking about your home’s potential security risks. Before you start sending out invitations to your housewarming party, though, there are a few tasks you should tend to right away to make sure your new home is as safe and secure as it can be. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
1. Change your locks.
Whenever you move into a new home, having the locks changed is one of the first things you should do. It’s not just the previous homeowners and real estate agent who may have copies of your home’s keys; tradesmen used by the previous homeowners, babysitters, relatives – even a dog walker may have copies on hand. Today, there are lots of locking options, from medium- and high-security deadbolts to keyless entry systems, all in a wide range of finishes and styles so you don’t have to sacrifice good looks for great security.
2. Install locks on windows and outbuildings.
Ground-floor windows provide an easy entry point for most crooks; make sure they have secure locks, and also make sure your sheds, garage and other outbuildings have locks – not just on the doors, but on windows as well. Sliding glass doors? Consider a “burglar bar” to prevent the door from sliding open.
3. Check out your neighborhood – on foot.
Walking around your neighborhood at different times of the day and on different days of the week helps you get to know what’s going on while also identifying potential security issues. If your neighborhood has a police substation, take note of where it’s located.
4. Make a list of emergency numbers and keep it handy.
Dialing 911 is great, but you might also want to have the direct number for local police as well as numbers for utility companies or even your pharmacy. Keep the list in a drawer with a flashlight and spare batteries.
5. Have your home evaluated for a security system.
If your home comes with a security system installed, make an appointment to have it evaluated and ask about how to change any existing codes so there’s no risk a previous owner else may be able to circumvent your system. If your home doesn’t already have a system, schedule an appointment with a security company and learn how having one installed can help you stay safer and may even save money on your insurance costs. Make sure any security company you use is reputable and reliable.
6. Tend to your landscaping.
High shrubs can provide great places for intruders to hide, especially when they’re near your windows or doors. Trim shrubs and bushes back to provide a clear view for patrolling police and make it hard for would-be burglars to stay hidden. And while you’re at it, consider planting some thorny shrubs like roses, holly or cotoneaster near windows to serve as natural defenses.
7. Buy good window coverings.
Sheers may look attractive and it’s great to let the light in during the day when you’re home, but having easy-to-use blinds designed to block the view of your home’s interior are what you need to keep burglars from peering into your home from the street at night or while you’re away.
8. Get to know your neighbors.
Having friendly relationships with your neighbors means they’re more likely to keep an eye on things while you’re away and report suspicious activities to the police. Ask your police department if there’s a neighborhood watch program in your community and how to join.
Taking care of security issues as soon as you move in is an important step in protecting your loved ones and your belongings, and there’s one more important benefit: It’s a lot easier to enjoy your new home when you know it’s secure.