Who has access to your home? How many people have a copy of your house key? Is your home secure? Are your children and family safe? All good questions any parent or home owner should be asking themselves, yet imperative questions for new homeowners and renters. If you just bought a new home it is highly recommended that you rekey all your doors as soon as possible. Another idea to keep in mind is home alarm systems and the entry pass codes. Some homes may already have an alarm system installed when a home is purchased, yet the new home owner must remember to change the alarm codes once they take possession of the home.
Since there is no real way to know who or how many people may have a house key to your new home it is a good idea to simply have all exterior door locks changed. The easiest way to do this is to have an expert locksmith come to your home and rekey your doors. Most homes have a door lock and a deadbolt lock on the exterior doors and it is ok to rekey the locks to use one key. If you plan to upgrade your locks or door handles, now would be the time to make the change. Never label keys with your name, home address or home phone number asking to be contacted if keys are found. Use a number that is not easily traced to your name or home address like a cell phone. This way the finder can still contact you but can not identify where you live. Children carrying a single house key need not label the key with any identifying name or number.
All windows should be checked for stability and security. If a window lock is broken and a window will not lock, there are locks nowadays that can be applied to the interior of the window and are considered as effective as the original and safer than a wooden dowel. Windows should never be unlocked and left open while residents are out, allowing access to the home, where an intruder can then wait for the homeowner or children to return. This also applies to sleeping with the window open at night. Many home owners have felt secure sleeping with a window open at night on the second story of a home, only to wake up to an intruder in the home who entered through the open window.
The height of the window does not guarantee safety. Too many homeowners leave ladders stored outside the home, giving intruders easy access to enter the home through another level of the home. Unless a window is locked it is not secure and is can be used as an entry point for intruders.
Entryways need to be kept clear. Cut down any bushes or other foliage that may obstruct the view of the door. Trees, bushes or other decorative items may allow an intruder to hide behind them and lay in wait to surprise the owner as they walk to the door to enter the home. Children need to be taught never to answer the door with out an adult present. Regardless of who is expected or the time of day, an adult should be in the near vicinity of the door when it is answered in case it is not the expected guest.
Teach children how to be safe at home. Tell children what information is ok to give out and what is not ok to reveal to friends or family. Let them know if someone calls to give out no information, no exceptions, especially if they are alone. Simply ask to take a message and have the person call them back, or better yet do not answer the phone at all, use caller identification to answer only the calls from mom or dad if possible. As parents we must teach children how to be safe!