For many people, upgrading their home security system can be a challenging task. Where should you start? What type of equipment do you need? How do you determine the type of security you should have at your home? Fortunately, all of these questions can be answered with a preliminary risk assessment of your home.

What is a risk assessment?

When families complete a risk assessment of their homes, they are actively investigating not only their residence, but also the neighborhood, accidents that occur in the surrounding area, criminal activity and natural disasters. This assessment should go into as much detail as possible, so you can take more effective precautions when you see all your home’s security strengths and weaknesses.

Risk assessments are most effective when they are completed prior to purchasing a home security package. By analyzing your home and neighborhood before you buy a system, you can determine your home security needs. This involves identifying what is absolutely necessary and what can be considered extraneous.

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Analyzing your home

When assessing the safety risks of your home, it’s best if you start with the kitchen. If your home is like millions of other families in the U.S., the kitchen holds the majority of electrical and fire risks. Toasters, microwaves, ovens and other cooking appliances should be properly used and in good condition. Electrical sockets need to be checked for any potential danger. Matches and other fire hazards should be out of your children’s reach. Cooking and cleaning products also need to be considered when taking a risk assessment of your kitchen. Other factors to consider when looking long and hard at your kitchen include flooring and entry and exit points in case of emergencies

After you finish assessing your kitchen, take a look at your living room and/or dining room. Take a few minutes to check all your electrical appliances. Are they in use? If not, do you and your family members unplug them? Do you know where your fireplace and heaters are located? Look for any possible fire hazards that might be around these heat sources. You might have an extensive entertainment system in your living room. Are your cables in good condition? Do you have rugs that might be a tripping hazard? You will also want to make a note of the entrances and exits of the space.

When you have finished assessing these two large spaces, you can apply the same criteria to smaller areas like bedrooms, bathrooms, cupboards, hallways, stairs, lofts and landings.

Analyze the surrounding area

An essential part of conducting a proper risk assessment is working with the local police and fire departments. These professionals often have important information such as crime statistics, the number of natural disaster occurrences per year and how many fire-related accidents happened in a given period of time.

Neighbors are also good sources of information, especially if they have lived in the neighborhood much longer than you and your family. Ask them if they’ve experienced any criminal activity or vandalism, including burglaries, thrown eggs, spray painting, graffiti and other teenage mischief. Try to take note of how far your home is from the nearest fire and police station. Mark possible routes through the neighborhood you think you will use regularly. Potential homebuyers should know that criminals track family routines when picking targets.

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Determine your strengths and weaknesses

By the time you are through going over your home and neighborhood for security risks, you will have enough information to start making decisions on the size and scope of your home security system. If you believe that crime and vandalism is high, you will want to take steps toward minimizing those risks.

Protect America offers a wide variety of home security measures that fit your needs perfectly. Basic packages include the Simon XT control panel that gives you control over your entire alarm system and features a full security platform that is easy to use. The packages also include multiple door and window sensors and motion detectors for a comprehensive home security system.

Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.