Spring is officially here – along with the annual task of spring cleaning. It’s also a great time to complete a safety checklist around your home for even more peace of mind. Maintaining a clutter-free home that appears tidy inside and outside helps prevent home accidents and can signal to a would-be thief that your home is cared for and occupied. The result is a tidier, safer, and more secure home environment.
Curb Appeal Contributes to Home Security
When you include sprucing up your yard as part of your spring chores, you also increase your home’s security. Clutter near your entries, overgrown shrubs, and items left in the yard can create an appearance of neglect. To a potential burglar, it can also signal carelessness, such as unlocked doors or windows.
Tidying up outside your home shows you care about detail and your home’s overall condition. Unkempt yards also can aid a thief during a break in: Dense bushes can create hiding places, and ladders, tools, buckets, trashcans or other items left outside can help a thief gain access to your home.
Five Steps to Declutter Outside and Increase Security
Last spring, we shared how yardwork can increase both curb appeal and security, along with landscaping ideas for added beauty and protection. Now’s a great time to review those tips, along with these additional outdoor tasks:
Check your door daily for items left by service or delivery companies. Leaving items on your porch for long periods of time invites porch thieves and indicates no one is home.
Trim tree limbs away from second-story windows to reduce easy entry.
Store or secure objects that might allow access to your home, such as ladders or trashcans that could be used to enter a window or scale a fence.
To prevent hiding places for intruders, trim bushes.
Install motion lights to illuminate entryways.
Remember: Review and Repair Potential Safety Issues
While you’re spring cleaning, take a look around your home with family safety in mind. Pay close attention to areas or items that can cause accidents year round and eliminate the hazards, using this checklist:
Replace poor lighting or add lighting in high-traffic walkways, on stairs, and near entryways to prevent stumbles.
Check for worn carpeting that can cause trips and falls. Contact a professional who can repair loose carpeting.
Repair loose stair railings or check to see if new handrails are needed.
If you’re remodeling, take a look at your front door. Add a peephole so that you can easily see who’s visiting and avoid door-to-door scams or uninvited guests who might be casing your neighborhood. Review our tips for when strangers knock on your door.
Pay close attention to home hazards that affect seniors. According to the National Safety Council, removing floor clutter, such as throw rugs and electrical cords, can go a long way in protecting elderly homeowners from trips and falls.
Remove piles of books, boxes, and clothes that can block exit or entry during an emergency.
Be aware of items that can cause fires or electrocution. For example, in the bathroom, make room for properly storing items such as hair dryers and curling or flat irons, so that they can be turned off and put away after use. Consider placing lights and appliances, such as portable heaters, on timers or consider home automation services to automate or remotely turn them on and off.
Check for obstructions throughout your home that might cause trips or injuries, such as tables in narrow spaces or where family members typically walk or run, including play areas, family rooms or hallways.
Consider your game and toy storage – including pet toys – and ensure everyone knows to store them away after use.
Designate a secure spot for particularly dangerous sporting items, such as fishing or hunting equipment. In addition to following gun safety steps, ask your security provider about using remote monitoring and access services or video surveillance for protecting sensitive areas where guns are stored.
Include a Home Insurance Review in your Spring Cleaning
Take some time to “declutter” your finances and update files too. If you haven’t recently, add “reviewing an inventory of your valuables” to your spring cleaning list. Follow that “to do” with a call to your insurance agent to check for any new discounts and savings for which you might qualify based on home improvements or changes in your status.
You probably know about the common insurance discounts – multi-coverage of home and auto; a monitored security system, plus smoke and fire detectors. The good news is there could be more. While insurance discounts can vary by state, be sure to ask your provider about these potential discount options on your insurance premium:
New home (built within past 10 years)
55 or older
Heat or water detectors
Paying your bill electronically
No-burst, stainless steel hoses for your washer
Tougher roof materials, such as metal roofing or heavier-grade asphalt and shake shingles
According to a survey of the nation’s 10 largest insurance companies, the average premium discount for a home with a monitored alarm system is 20 percent. Be sure to ask your home or business security services provider for a certificate as proof of your monitored security system.
Organizing and Decluttering Deters Stress and Intruders
Overall, an organized home can make it harder for a burglar to smash and grab. Storing things away increases the time it would take for a thief to go through your home, looking for valuables. It’s also easier to know what’s missing if everything has a place and you can quickly scan your home if you detect a break in.
When the weather is so beautiful, most of us don’t love spending time cleaning. However, when you consider your spring cleaning can also help protect your family and belongings, there’s added incentive to get the job done. Happy spring cleaning!
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