No, it’s not “cryptic headline day”. We mean exactly what we say.

The single greatest security error that people do is giving in to complacency. This is where most people are when they are in their own homes – and it’s a very natural condition to slip into there. The home is safe, or is supposed to be, and few people take the risk of something happening to them in their own home very seriously. If they happen to actually take it seriously, they think about it only rarely.

A few, simple (and free) daily routines can help you actually be safe instead of it being simply an illusion. Here they come.

Patrolling your territory 101

Those who’ve worked in security or law enforcement are familiar with patrols, rounds, roving – whatever you want to call it. It entails inspecting an area to see that everything is all right, and that nothing has gone wrong or has the potential to go wrong in the near future. A security guard might look for everything from water leaks and fires to robbers and burglars, and that is just what you should do as well.

In a regular home, be it an apartment or a house, many of the same things can go wrong, and we’re here to help you, as usual. Here’s a short list of bullets that you should follow, to make sure your home is safe and secure. It doesn’t really matter when you do this, but it would probably be a good idea to schedule this before going to bed, for instance. We’re going to assume you’re in a house, but if you live in an apartment, just pick out the bullets that apply to you. They should be easy to spot.

First Floor Patrol (that’s “ground floor” to all you Brits out there):

– Check your doors and windows. They should be closed and locked. Start at your front door, and move through your home in one direction, and check any doors and windows leading to the outside world. Be thorough.

– Check your fire- and smokealarms. Most of them have little red lights on them that blink every 5-10 seconds. Once you see a flash, move on to the next one.

– Check your kitchen. This is an important one. The kitchen is responsible for a lot of things that go wrong at home. Or rather, the users of the kitchen are. Even if it’s just you, you should take some extra care in here. Check to make sure your oven/hotplates/gas stove etc. is off. Completely. This is a serious fire-starter (much worse than Carrie). Make sure you’ve put away knives and blades, and that nothing can fall down from anywhere. Even if you don’t check firealarms anywhere else, check them here!

– Check your bathroom. This is another big pile of accudents waiting to happen. Feel free to save this room for last if it’s an evening patrol, by the way. Make sure there’s no water on the floor, make sure no taps are dripping and that any drains in the floor are clear of rubbish and stuff… we won’t elaborate on the things that get stuck in there – we’re sure you know.

If you keep chemicals in the bathroom, make sure all the containers are safe and that their lids and caps are on the way they should. Chemical spills can be highly dangerous, and even start fires if you’re really down on your luck.

This is the general plan you should follow when you patrol your house or apartment. Repeat this for every floor in your home that are above ground. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes per floor – obviously depending on the size of your dwelling…

Attic Inspection

This is mostly a formality, and you might not have to do this every day. If there are no windows or other entries up there, you can check this twice per week, or when you feel like it (if you feel like it more often than twice per week). Here are a few bullets for you anyway.

Check your chimney. Don’t climb onto your roof and look (or fall) down – that’s only for professionals. However, take a quick look now and then, and check for cracks and pieces falling off on the inside. If you see that kind of thing, call someone to fix it right away, and don’t use any fireplaces or similar contraptions until it’s fixed.

– Check your wiring. Often, much of the house’s wiring run through the attic. If you can see it, so can rodents and other nasty things that may live up there. Check for wear and tear and teeth-marks. You don’t have to do this often.

Basement

This is not a huge point, and there’s only a few things you should check.

Windows and doors. Make sure they’re closed and locked. Basement windows should be secured with window locks like these. 

– Furnace and water. Piping for everything comes through the basement. Check for water leaks and excess moisture. Check your furnace for damage and strange noises – they may be signs of impending failure.

Notes.

This isn’t a comprehensive check, but it’s a quick rove that you should do once in a while for the whole house. You should do your living quarters every day, checking windows, doors and firealarms, and your kitchen and bathrooms. This helps keep unwanted visitors out, and it helps make sure that your house doesn’t fall down around you or go up in flames. Which would be bad things.

Take a look at installment 1 and installment 2 of “Up Your Security” for more information on home security for cheap (or free)!

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