In 1736, Benjamin Franklin counseled fire-threatened Philadelphians that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Clearly, some careful forethought and preparation is better than haphazardly working through something unexpected and unprepared. And when dealing with potential problems or emergencies, putting in some thought and effort early on is a wise investment that can potentially save you time, trouble and even lives.

With this in mind, there are many considerations for keeping yourself and your family safe within the walls of your own home. I’m not just talking about locking cabinets and toilets from little ones, securing heavy furniture or objects from tipping over or falling down, staging fire extinguishers in prime locations, or stowing away chemicals and other hazardous materials. In addition to general safety and security precautions, here are a few extra tips that may help give you and your family an added sense of protection.

Home Safety Tips

  • Install and activate an alarm system and make sure everyone knows how to use it properly. This is one important way to make your home less attractive to criminals while providing you with a quicker connection to firefighters or law enforcement officers if required.
  • Keep your spare car keys and your cell phone near your bed while you are sleeping. You can use the keys to set off your vehicle’s alarm if you hear something or someone outside. Plus, you’ll have them ready if you need to get somewhere quickly. It’s also good to have your cell phone nearby if you need to call someone for help.
  • Create a plan of escape for all family members. (Be sure to consider children’s ages and note what each person may be capable of in an emergency.) Designate a specific meeting place or a location where everyone can gather and regroup for safety. Don’t forget to include neighbors, friends or other family members in your plan!
  • Create a safe room/area in your home and supply it with necessary tools, such as a phone, keys, flashlight, first-aid kit, batteries, food, radio, self-defense tools, etc. This should be a place where family members can retreat, hide and/or barricade themselves in case of an emergency situation.
  • Choose a specific word or a short phrase for your family to recognize when you need to put your emergency plan into action. It could be as simple as “ACTION” or “RETREAT” to alert your kids to immediately get to the safe area.
  • Have all family members’ and other important phone numbers written down and/or memorized.
  • Know your house and your property. Be able to navigate your home in the dark and explain specific locations to family members or emergency responders.
  • Assign a special code word or a phrase that your family recognizes in case plans change or parents or guardians cannot be present as planned. Use something memorable but unique. That way, for example, if a neighbor or friend comes to pick up a child at the bus stop, the child will know to ask for the word or phrase to ensure the unexpected action is approved.

Practice Makes Prepared

Practice your emergency and escape plans. Don’t make it frightening or overwhelming. Just make sure everyone understands their roles and their responsibilities. Set up drills regularly and talk through different scenarios and solutions.