Get a Safer Home in 10 Minutes With These Security Checks

Most of us don’t like to spend a lot of time obsessing about our home security. After all, there’s enough to worry about without adding a fire or a burglary into the mix. But as much as we’d like to forget all about it, security checks are an important part of your home maintenance routine—and for good reason! In 2015, there were 365,500 home fires and and 1,579,527 robberies. In fact, the FBI estimates that there was one robbery every 20 seconds! Stop and think about that for a minute. That means in the time it takes to read this article, there will be almost eight separate burglaries. That’s more than enough reason to be a little extra vigilant!

However, we realize that security isn’t exactly the most entertaining home project. After all, if it was, you’d have already done it! To make it just a teensy bit more enticing, we’ve found the most adorable, heart-warming video for you as a reward for reading the article. So take a few minutes to perform the following safety checks—we promise, it will be worth it!

big clock on the wall

Drop Your “Spare-Key-Under-the-Mat” Habit

Criminals don’t have the best reputation for smarts, as evidenced by this robber who tried to burgle a police convention. But even they know enough to pull up the mat and check for a spare key. Every year, thousands of burglars use this trick on targeted homes, and lots of them get away with it. Outsmart the robbers—give your keys to a family member or neighbor instead. New in town? Use a doorknob lock box to hide a key. Just don’t put it over your front door: you’re basically advertising that you’re away from home. If you absolutely must stash a loose key on your property, try attaching it to the top of a wind chime. Any robbers who do happen to find your spare will trigger a pretty obvious alarm!

Inspect Your Window Locks

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 40% of home robberies occur as the direct result of an unlocked door or window. Basically, the burglar walks right up to a home, tries the window and climbs right in. Don’t make it so easy for them! While you probably stay on top of your front and back door, windows are a lot easier to miss. Give all the window locks in your home a quick check right now (don’t worry, we’ll wait). Concerned that you’ll forget to lock them again in the future? Try one of these smart sensors and get notified every time someone unbolts one.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you tested your smoke detectors? If it was less than a month ago, go ahead and sit this one out. If not, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The US Fire Administration says you should check your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re still working properly—malfunctioning smoke alarms are the cause of three out of five fire-related deaths. And most of the time, testing them takes literally 30 seconds. You just press the test button until you hear the alarm. Pretty simple. But in case you need some extra help, here’s a little how-to from YouTube’s expertvillage.

Check Your Circuit Breaker

Chances are, you don’t think too much about your circuit breaker until you trip a fuse. But your breaker’s main job is to monitor the flow of electricity into your home. If the voltage becomes too high at any point, it automatically cuts the power to protect you and your family. So it’s definitely worth evaluating whether yours can still do its job. There are a couple of different ways to do this. If your circuit panel contains arc fault circuit interrupters (also know AFCIs), there should be a test button located next to each breaker. Press the test button, and the breaker should trip, which is how you know it’s working. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a separate voltage tester to test the circuit breaker. You can get one from a home improvement store. It’s a little more work, but using it does make you feel kind of like a ghostbuster, so it’s not all bad.

Okay, ready for your reward? Here it is: This happy lizard drinking from his dish!

Wasn’t that great? You totally earned it!