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Is your house really as secure as it should be?

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Are you doing all you can to keep your family safe?

Many people worry about keeping their home and its occupants secure, but they often don't know how to strengthen their security measures. Locking the door and installing smoke alarms is a good start, but there is so much more you can do to keep your loved ones and property secure from burglars and disaster.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you decide how secure your home really is. How many of these can you say yes to?

Do you check and replace the batteries of your carbon dioxide monitors and smoke alarms regularly?

An alarm is only as good as its power source. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests checking your alarms monthly to ensure their functionality. And whether their batteries work or not, you should replace the alarm every 10 years. The USFA also urges homeowners to install one alarm in every bedroom, keeping in mind that "half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep."

Do you have a plan in case of a fire?

Just as important as that smoke alarm is your family's fire or carbon dioxide evacuation plan. Make sure your kids know where the closest exit is and where the family should meet should an alarm go off. Keep in mind that as children grow or new family members are born, you may need to update the plan.

Do you lock your doors consistently?

Locking your door occasionally, or only at night, means making your property vulnerable to burglary. In a survey of 86 currently incarcerated burglars, KGW Portland found, "Most inmates broke in through an unlocked door or window." One inmate also wrote that the time of day he preferred to break in was "between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Anyone that was home for lunch should be gone by then and most kids should all still be in school."

If you have a hard time remembering your house keys or you have kids that need to get in after school, you might consider installing a remote locking system that allows you to lock and unlock your door from your smartphone.

Do you secure your house effectively when you go out of town?

Locking your door and turning on a porch light might not be enough deterrent to keep a burglar away when you go out of town for a few days. However, the KGW survey found that burglars are far less likely to target a house if there is a car in the driveway, if they can hear a radio or TV inside, if they see surveillance cameras, if the front yard is kept tidy and if the mailbox is empty. If you think it might snow while you're gone, you could also ask a neighbor to leave footprints in the snow to and from your front door.

Have you checked the strength of your doors and windows?

Determined burglars won't care if your doors and windows are locked. However, steel doors with reinforced door jams, pet doors with locks, and double-paned windows can help thwart their efforts to easily enter your home. Keep your bushes and trees trimmed back so doors and windows are easily visible from the street as well.

Do you have a safe place for valuables?

Should a burglar gain access to your home, it's important that they find it difficult to find your most valuable possessions. It would be impractical to lock up your electronics every time you leave, but cash, expensive jewelry, or other obviously expensive items could be locked in a safe when you're out of the house.

When you can't put a valuable item away, make sure it isn't easily visible from a window or the front door. And when you dispose of packaging for electronics, consider taking them to a public dumpster to fool thieves who might rummage through garbage looking for good homes to target.

Have you considered installing a smart security system?

Security systems can be an important part of keeping your home safe from burglars. Simply putting a sticker on your window can be a deterrent to some thieves. Some systems will alert you every time someone opens the front door, sending you a time-stamped image of people entering and leaving your home. Others allow you to view a live stream of what's going on at home, giving you peace of mind when you're away.

For more information on how a home security system can keep your home safe, visit escosecurity.com.

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