With spring in full swing and summer hot on its heels, home buying typically becomes more active. If you’re house hunting, take note of several home safety features that add layers of protection to your potential new home.
Possibly the biggest consideration in home buying is also the one over which you have the least control: the safety of the neighborhood itself. However, it’s relatively easy to uncover criminal activity utilizing websites that compile information, such as burglaries, car break-ins, and areas where registered sex offenders live. The following sites provide a good start to your research:
AreaVibes helps you find the best place to live based on the factors you deem important.
CrimeReports maps crime data from more than 1,000 participating law enforcement agencies.
FamilyWatchdog maps the addresses of registered sex offenders in your neighborhood.
National Sex Offender Public Website helps discover who lives in the area.
NeighborhoodScout provides crime statistics and other important local data to help you decide if a neighborhood is right for you.
Nextdoor is a private social network for your neighborhood and features a crime and safety area.
SpotCrime maps crimes and delivers crime alerts via email, Facebook, Twitter, and several other platforms.
In addition, your real estate agent may have an idea of the neighborhood’s safety, and a call to the local police department can uncover other details about area residents and any street activity that occurs.
Active Neighborhood Watch Group
An area with friendly neighbors who know and look out for each other offers a level of security that is often overlooked. Watchful residents discourage burglaries and other potential crimes. Look for a neighborhood that is taken well care of and conveys a strong sense of community. Also, ask about any neighborhood watch programs and how effective they have been.
Landscaping enhances a home’s appeal. And, if done right, it also enhances home security. Potential burglars love hiding in overgrown foliage, especially when located near doors or windows. If the home’s landscape is out of control, look to ensure that it can easily be trimmed to expose hiding places. It’s also preferable that the foliage next to the house is thorny or prickly to dissuade would-be thieves.
Also, check that the home provides landscape lighting, exterior lighting, or motion sensor lights. The more well-lit the area, the less likely an intruder would target your home.
Doors and Windows
Remember that doors and windows serve more than an aesthetic purpose. A glass panel in or next to the front door may be pretty, but it provides easy access to the home, even if the door has deadbolts.
Also, take a minute to inspect the door locks. A deadbolt that is one-inch-long gives you the best protection, and a heavy-duty metal strike plate with four screws at least three inches long makes it difficult to kick in the door.
For windows, ensure all windows have working locks. Homeowners sometimes become complacent and don’t repair broken locks. Or they cover the locks with so much paint that the locks are stuck in an unlocked state.
Other window assets to look for or consider installing are window stops. These small inserts are placed on either side of the window and prevent windows from opening too wide, thus preventing anyone from crawling inside.
Inside the home, there are several features that could become safety issues. An outdated electrical system puts your home at risk for fires, and gas appliances or fireplaces that don’t function properly increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. To verify that all mechanical systems meet current building codes and function properly, hire a professional to conduct a home inspection.
Even with precautions, fires or carbon monoxide leaks are a possibility. Inspect the home for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If detectors are hardwired into the electrical system, check for a battery backup in case the power goes out.
Of course, the premium safety feature for a home is a security system. If you buy a home that already has a security system installed, you can usually start the service as soon as you move in.
Some homes may not have the security system installed but they may be prewired for one, making it easier for a security company to install a hardwired system. If neither one of these options are available in your new home, not to worry. Wireless security systems are available and are rapidly becoming popular because of their reliability.
You may also look for or consider a video surveillance system. This adds extra security for the home. Visible cameras will scare off potential thieves and most now can tie into your phone so you get real-time alerts when the camera is triggered.
Atronic Alarms, Inc. can take over most existing security systems in a home with a pre-existing system. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 913.362.0000 for more information about our options and alarm monitoring.