Whether you own or rent, it's important to do everything you can to protect your home from fire and theft. Take a few minutes to make an Emergency Information List (see below) and post it by the kitchen phone. Note that your family name, address, and phone number should be on the checklist (e.g., for house sitters or babysitters).
Emergency Information List for the ___________________ Family
in Progress, Police, Ambulance: 911
Determined thieves can break into just about any home, but you can take steps to make entry a lot more difficult for them. Following are some tips to help your protect your home from theft.
Participate in a neighborhood watch program. If you don't have one, check with local police for information about starting one.
Alarm systems come in many shapes and sizes and many levels of sophistication, at prices that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Many installers also charge monthly monitoring fees. Local police are a good source of information and recommendations regarding security systems, since they work with the security services in your area. They can also tell you what types of break-ins are most common in your community.
A Home Safety Checklist is below. It will get you started on improving the safety and security of your home, but only if you use it to make improvements-stay safe!
Home Safety Checklist
[ ] One on
each floor of the home
[ ] In
kitchen and basement/garage
Deadbolts on exterior doors
Plumbing, Hoses, and Connections
[ ] Check
periodically to see if they are secure and leak-free
[ ] Proper
use of extension cords (i.e., not under rugs or furniture; not
[ ] Furnace
cleaned and checked annually
Frozen Pipe Prevention
[ ] Heat
home even when away
[ ] Cleaned
and checked annually
Steps/sidewalks level and intact
Make Sure You're Covered
Educate yourself about home or renters insurance. Learn the meaning of important terms (e.g., replacement cost) so that you can talk knowledgeably with your insurance agent and make sound decisions. When you shop for insurance, compare specific coverage as well as the cost. And remember, some companies provide a discount if you have more than one type of coverage with them (e.g., auto and home). Review all of your insurance policies annually, and be sure to notify your agent if things change (e.g., you move, buy a new car or boat). Store a copy of your policies in a safe location outside of the house.
An inventory of your personal property will help you determine the approximate value of your possessions and, consequently, how much insurance you need to cover your personal property. Make your inventory as thorough as possible (e.g., receipts, serial numbers of expensive equipment or appliances). Photograph or videotape each room in detail, if possible, and keep this visual record with your written inventory.
completed inventory in a safe place outside your home, such as a
safe-deposit box. Update it annually or when you make a major
purchase. This record can help you prove the value of damaged or
destroyed possessions, and may help you claim a tax deduction if you
suffer a loss.