SafeWise Car Safety Guide

Auto Safety from Driveway to Highway

With over 250 million cars in the U.S., it’s safe to say that driving is an ingrained and essential part of our lives. Every day, Americans take 1.1 billion trips in the car and cover millions of miles while transporting pets and family members, going on vacation, running errands, and traveling to work.1 That’s why it’s so important to learn proper auto safety protocol to protect yourself in and around your car—and to protect your car itself. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled safety information about car seats, seat belts, defensive driving courses, car alarms, and more.

Under the Hood

Oil Levels

Oil keeps everything lubricated and running smoothly in your engine, preventing metal from grinding on metal. When oil is low or old, your car will overheat and break down—not to mention cost you a ton to get it fixed. Get your oil changed every 2,000–5,000 miles (depending on whether you choose real or synthetic products) and check it periodically with a dipstick to ensure oil levels are sufficient.

Hood Latch

After peeking under the hood, give the latch a tug to verify it’s locked up tight. You wouldn’t want it flying up while you’re on the road!

Battery

Car batteries last about six years, but extreme cold, not driving for long periods of time, and taking short trips (not allowing your battery to fully recharge) affect this dramatically. Avoid coming outside to a dead and unusable car by asking your mechanic to test your battery. If the charge is below 25 percent, get a new one or carry a backup for when it fails.

Lights

Daytime Running Lights

Daytime running lights allow drivers to see you better in all lighting conditions. Plus, they’re automatic, so you never have to think about enabling this added safety feature.

Headlights/Tail Lights

Before you drive anywhere, check your headlights and tail lights. These lights help you see critters and objects on the road and let other drivers know you’re there, so they’re really important. If you drive with broken lights you might discover another downside: getting tickets from the police.

Windshield

Wipers

Dirty windshields cause glare and blind spots, obstructing your view of the road and what’s in front of you. Don’t make a dirty windshield worse by using old windshield wipers to clean up the problem. Instead, change your wiper blades once a year (or more often) and keep your windshield wiper fluid levels up, so your glass is always clean and clear.

Glass

Cracks are dangerous because they weaken your windshield, reflect light, and block your view. Always have a professional replace windshields with cracks longer than six inches, and patch cracks larger than a quarter to avoid running into problems (literally).

Tires

Tire Pressure

Properly inflated tires provide traction and keep you in control of your car. However, when tires are overfilled they may burst while you’re driving, and when they’re deflated you could lose the ability to steer properly.

Most cars have lights that turn on when your tire pressure is low, but buy a gauge to check manually before long road trips and between oil changes. Look at the rim of your tire or your car’s manual to determine how many pounds of air your tires hold, so they’re filled correctly every time. Here’s a quick tutorial to teach you how to fill your tires at the gas station.

Extreme Weather

Driving in the wind, rain, snow, ice, or blistering heat requires different driving tactics, tires, and safety knowledge. All-weather tires tackle most of these conditions, but consider upgrading to snow tires if you live in a cold, icy, and snowy climate.

Here’s what you should do in the winter before going on a roadtrip and other tips to enhance your safety while driving any any time of the year.

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Hands-free Devices

It’s a ticketable offense in most states to talk and drive without a hands-free device—plus, it’s dangerous. Hook your phone up to Bluetooth while driving and turn on automated text responses so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages.

Dash Cams

Dash cams are a fairly new technology that monitor everything that happens in and around your car. Some insurance companies use dash cams to determine your auto insurance rates, but personal cameras record accidents and crimes and offer protection in a court of law. For instance, if you get into a hit-and-run accident, your camera will record the license plate number so you can track down the driver. Buy a dashcam for your car to give yourself an iron-clad witness to everything that happens on the road.

Car Alarms

Deter thieves from breaking into your car or driving away with it by installing a car alarm. Models range in sophistication and price, so whether you want a car alarm that sends alerts to your phone or a basic siren that scares thieves away, there’s a security product for you. Stay a few steps ahead of potential car thieves by reading about how to prevent auto break-ins, too.

Steering Wheel Locks

Steering wheel locks are a great alternative to larger car alarm systems because of their affordable price tag. These locks differ in strength and design, but all models prevent the wheel from turning and someone from driving off in your car. Compare top steering wheel locks that are tough enough to stand up to an attempted carjacking to give yourself a solid defense against car thieves.

Back-up Cameras

Back-up cameras eliminate blind spots to help you avoid running over objects, toys, animals, and people while you’re in reverse. Most new cars have rear cameras, which show you what’s immediately in back of your car, but you can install backup cameras in older cars too.

Front Seat

Seat Belts

Seat belts save lives. In 2014, the CDC reported that 12,000 people survived car accidents because they were wearing seat belts, and seat belts reduced serious injury by 50 percent in all accidents reported.2

No matter how old you are, always buckle up before driving. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, car accidents are the ninth-leading cause of death in the world, so seat belts are a simple solution to this preventable problem.3

Passenger Safety

Cars become ovens in the sun. Between 1998–2016, 700 children died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars—about 34 per year on average.4 Unfortunately, dozens of dogs suffer this same fate every year. Even when it’s 78 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, internal car temperatures can climb to 120 degrees in minutes. And on a 90-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for internal car temperatures to reach 160 degrees.5

Animals and children succumb to heatstroke in mere minutes when exposed to extreme temperatures, so never leave them inside without the car running—even when the windows are cracked or just for a couple of minutes. You may not think this will ever happen to you, but 54 percent of all child heat stroke-related deaths happened when a parent or caretaker accidentally left a child in the car. Kars 4 Kids has a safety app to combat this issue that reminds you when a child (or pet) is in your car so you never suffer a tragedy.

Back Seat

Car Seats

Car seats are vital to the safety of your child and are required in all 50 states. However, not just any car seat will do. SafeWise conducted vast research to find top-rated car seats that exceed safety standards, optimize convenience, and cater to the unique needs of parents and children alike. Read our review of the best car seats available and learn from child safety expert Gloria Delcasto, who shared tips exclusively with SafeWise about the importance of seat belts, car seats, and booster seats.

Welcoming a new member to the family soon? Prepare your home for a little one by reading our complete baby-proofing guide that covers everything from unknown household dangers to how to properly cover outlets and more.

Pet Harnesses

You wouldn’t put your child in a car without a seat belt, so why would you do that to your pet? When shopping for a pet car harness, do so wisely because 25 out of 29 dog harnesses haven’t passed realistic crash tests.6 That’s because the Consumer Products Safety Commission does not oversee or regulate pet harnesses since they aren’t viewed as consumer products. On the up side, four pet harnesses and travel crates did pass crash tests and are deemed safe to use for your precious fur babies.

Roof

Roof Racks and Cargo

Unsecured cargo can turn into a missile when you suddenly stop or swerve on the road, risking your safety and the safety of others. To prevent tragedy or an insurance nightmare, always use a roof carrier and tie-down straps to secure items. Here’s more about properly securing cargo to your car’s roof for safer travels.

Trunk

Jumper Cables

A dead battery means you’re stranded wherever you are. This is potentially dangerous if it’s bitterly cold, you have a medical emergency, or you’re in an unsafe part of town. Carry jumper cables so another driver can help get your car started, or keep an emergency jump starter in your emergency kit to charge your car yourself if no one is around.

Roadside Safety Kits

Cars rarely break down, blow a tire, or get into accidents in convenient locations. That’s where roadside safety kits come in. These handy kits include everything from flares and reflective triangles to jacks, water, and flashlights. Make your own safety kit to get better prepared and use our car safety guide to determine what else you should have in your car at all times to stay safe.

Cargo

Even though your car stops when you slam on the brakes, loose items in the car may not. Whenever possible, tie down and secure heavy items inside your car or trunk and pack heaviest to lightest, so objects don’t become airborne and get damaged—or hurt you or your passengers.

The Extra Mile: Auto Safety Education and Industry Standards

Defensive Driving Classes

Becoming a responsible driver comes from experience, but you may accelerate your driving prowess with education and awareness training offered in defensive driving courses. These classes teach drivers about developing better driving behaviors, avoiding hazards on the road, and the dangers of driving while drowsy or inebriated. Find a defensive driving class near you to round out your auto safety.

IHHS Top Safety Picks

Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHHS), an automotive auditing group with rigorous safety and quality standards, publishes a study on the safest cars. This study analyzes front and side crash test results as well as some of the safety features discussed in this article. If you’re looking to buy a new car or assess the safety of your current vehicle, take a look at IHHS’s top safety picks from 2006–2016.

Drive Safe!

Your car is your means to see the world and shuttle yourself and loved ones safely. The next time you take a drive, park in a lot, or lock up your car for the night, remember the tips in this guide to make your car and driving habits safer and more secure.

Find Your Perfect Home Security System

Your Ultimate Room-By-Room Guide to Senior Home Safety

General Home Safety Devices for Seniors

Maintaining independence is important to all adults, but as people age, living alone can become dangerous. In this guide, we cover everything from fall prevention and home security to avoiding phone and email scams and more so older adults can lead safer, healthier lives.

Wrist watchMedical Alert Devices

The big picture for senior home safety begins with medical alert devices. These life-saving wearables keep seniors in constant communication with emergency response services as well as loved ones. If a senior falls, has a heart attack, or senses something is wrong, they can push a button to call for help. Take a look at other top senior safety devices to equip yourself or family members with the best technology out there.

Indoor cameraIndoor Cameras

Older people might have in-home caretakers, maintenance staff, or other hired help who come and go. That’s where indoor cameras come in handy. Indoor cameras keep a watchful eye on the home to protect against theft, abuse, and other crimes. If you’re interested in an indoor camera, read more about top brands and styles.

Security SystemHome Security Systems

Home security systems protect people from break-ins, carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, and more. Home automation technology also allows the children of aging parents to keep an eye on them from afar. Explore the top home security systems to see how this technology keeps people safe.

Room-By-Room Guide to a Safer Home

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Garage

The garage is a great place to store just about anything from tools and yard equipment to your car and outdoor toys. But it can also be a dangerous place as it provides criminals with easy access to your home and is full of sharp objects and harmful chemicals.

Garage Door Locks

Garage doors are easy access points for thieves. In fact, a burglar can break into a home through a garage in just a few minutes. Keep intruders out with these preventative tips or shop for a better garage door to enhance security.

Car Security Devices

Criminals often target older adults. Protect yourself or seniors you know with steering wheel locks and car alarms to deter thieves, and follow these tips about car safety to safeguard cars when they’re parked in public places.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide is deadly; it has no scent or color and accumulates when you burn coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. If you leave a car running in the garage without ventilation, you can die, but a carbon monoxide alarm will warn you before it’s too late.

Driving Safety Tips

Driving is an important part of independence, but driving ability is a vital conversation to have with your senior family members as they age. Senior driving safety expert Tyler Waugh from Rear View Safety explains, “Everyone ages differently, so while there is no definitive cutoff as to when a person should stop driving, studies show that older adults are more likely to get into accidents than younger drivers. While fatal crashes increase sharply around age seventy, this is due to increased susceptibility to injuries among older drivers. Physical, cognitive, and visual abilities decline as we age. While health issues don’t automatically mean that driving should be stopped, it is an important factor in determining when it is time to find another mode of transportation.”

Since everyone ages at different rates, here are some tips to determine if seniors you know should stop driving. This is a sensitive topic that you should approach with compassion. To learn how to have this important talk, read advice from experts.

Garage Door Locks

Garage doors are easy access points for thieves. In fact, a burglar can break into a home through a garage in just a few minutes. Keep intruders out with these preventative tips or shop for a better garage door to enhance security.

Car Security Devices

Criminals often target older adults. Protect yourself or seniors you know with steering wheel locks and car alarms to deter thieves, and follow these tips about car safety to safeguard cars when they’re parked in public places.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide is deadly; it has no scent or color and accumulates when you burn coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. If you leave a car running in the garage without ventilation, you can die, but a carbon monoxide alarm will warn you before it’s too late.

Driving Safety Tips

Driving is an important part of independence, but driving ability is a vital conversation to have with your senior family members as they age. Senior driving safety expert Tyler Waugh from Rear View Safety explains, “Everyone ages differently, so while there is no definitive cutoff as to when a person should stop driving, studies show that older adults are more likely to get into accidents than younger drivers. While fatal crashes increase sharply around age seventy, this is due to increased susceptibility to injuries among older drivers. Physical, cognitive, and visual abilities decline as we age. While health issues don’t automatically mean that driving should be stopped, it is an important factor in determining when it is time to find another mode of transportation.”

Since everyone ages at different rates, here are some tips to determine if seniors you know should stop driving. This is a sensitive topic that you should approach with compassion. To learn how to have this important talk, read advice from experts.

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Laundry Room

The laundry room is one of the most commonly used rooms in the house. And it’s also one of the rooms with the highest potential danger because it contains harmful chemicals. Be sure to clean your laundry room periodically and ensure that everything’s working properly.

Gas Hookups

Gas dryers have gas hookups, which can cause leaks and explosions if they aren’t properly connected. Several times throughout the year, check the lines to ensure they’re properly sealed.

Dryer Lint

In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association reported that washers and dryers caused more than 16,000 fires and almost $240 million in property damage.1 Of those fires, 92% were caused by dryers.2 That’s because when people forget to clean dryer lint out of the trap and exhaust pipes, it heats up and ignites. Seniors should clean lint from their dryers once a month or ask a friend or family member to do it for them.

Gas Hookups

Gas dryers have gas hookups, which can cause leaks and explosions if they aren’t properly connected. Several times throughout the year, check the lines to ensure they’re properly sealed.

Dryer Lint

In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association reported that washers and dryers caused more than 16,000 fires and almost $240 million in property damage.1 Of those fires, 92% were caused by dryers.2 That’s because when people forget to clean dryer lint out of the trap and exhaust pipes, it heats up and ignites. Seniors should clean lint from their dryers once a month or ask a friend or family member to do it for them.

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Basement

The basement is one of the most versatile spaces in your home. It can be used for storage, extended living space, or as a recreational family room. Basements can get cluttered and become unsafe, so add these items to combat this hazard.

Stair Lifts

Stairs may become a challenge later in life depending on a senior’s mobility level. If getting around becomes a problem, consider installing a stair lift. While expensive, these systems prevent falls and injuries and can help seniors stay in their homes longer.

Storage Areas

Storage shelving is a great way to stay organized, but don’t go over the weight limit or you could cause an avalanche. Also, don’t ever climb on shelving to reach something, because this could cause a collapse or fall and lead to serious injury.

Stair Lifts

Stairs may become a challenge later in life depending on a senior’s mobility level. If getting around becomes a problem, consider installing a stair lift. While expensive, these systems prevent falls and injuries and can help seniors stay in their homes longer.

Storage Areas

Storage shelving is a great way to stay organized, but don’t go over the weight limit or you could cause an avalanche. Also, don’t ever climb on shelving to reach something, because this could cause a collapse or fall and lead to serious injury.

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Home Office

Seniors are more vulnerable to scams and identity theft than any other age group. The Financial Fraud Research Center reports that fraud costs people $40–50 billion each year.3 And according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, Americans who are more than sixty-five-years-old are most likely to be victims and incur financial loss.4

This is why home computers, phones, and mail are areas of concern for older adults—that’s how criminals take advantage of them. Take a look at the top ten scams seniors face or read our primer below so you can equip yourself with knowledge and educate your loved ones.

Computers

Seniors are all too often victims of phishing scams. Jake Schroeder, cybersecurity expert at Medical Guardian, explains, “Many of our senior loved ones didn’t have the benefit of growing up with computers and may not be fully aware of the dangers present in the online world. When you receive a suspicious email or pop-up, it’s always best to stop and take a minute to consider the content. Malicious hackers can take control of your computer when you simply click on a malicious link or open an attachment, so if you receive a suspicious email that you weren’t expecting, it’s best to just delete it.”

Installing malware-fighting software on all home computers also prevents viruses and decreases chances of being hacked.

Mail

The government never requests Social Security numbers, banking information, or credit card numbers through the mail. Seniors who receive mail asking for money or any of this information should throw it in the trash. Also, sign up for the National Do Not Mail List to declutter your mailbox and avoid getting junk mail.

Telephones

It’s alarming when someone calls you claiming you owe them money. It’s also enticing to believe someone who says you won a free trip. Criminals know this and prey on the elderly as easy targets. Those eighty-five and older are at most risk, especially since around 20% have cognitive impairments of some kind.5

Seniors should learn the warning signs of fraudulent calls. Hang up if you feel uncomfortable or get a loved one involved if you’re unsure of the validity of a caller. Get caller ID to screen calls from unknown numbers and sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry to prevent telemarketers from calling in the first place.

Computers

Seniors are all too often victims of phishing scams. Jake Schroeder, cybersecurity expert at Medical Guardian, explains, “Many of our senior loved ones didn’t have the benefit of growing up with computers and may not be fully aware of the dangers present in the online world. When you receive a suspicious email or pop-up, it’s always best to stop and take a minute to consider the content. Malicious hackers can take control of your computer when you simply click on a malicious link or open an attachment, so if you receive a suspicious email that you weren’t expecting, it’s best to just delete it.”

Installing malware-fighting software on all home computers also prevents viruses and decreases chances of being hacked.

Mail

The government never requests Social Security numbers, banking information, or credit card numbers through the mail. Seniors who receive mail asking for money or any of this information should throw it in the trash. Also, sign up for the National Do Not Mail List to declutter your mailbox and avoid getting junk mail.

Telephones

It’s alarming when someone calls you claiming you owe them money. It’s also enticing to believe someone who says you won a free trip. Criminals know this and prey on the elderly as easy targets. Those eighty-five and older are at most risk, especially since around 20% have cognitive impairments of some kind.5

Seniors should learn the warning signs of fraudulent calls. Hang up if you feel uncomfortable or get a loved one involved if you’re unsure of the validity of a caller. Get caller ID to screen calls from unknown numbers and sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry to prevent telemarketers from calling in the first place.

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Hallways

The hallway is a critical space because it connects each room in your home, giving you easy access to different rooms. Adding railings to hallways helps older adults move around more quickly, and installing detectors can keep family members safe from environmental danger.

Rails

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 2.8 million adults over age sixty-five are admitted to the hospital for fall-related injuries every year.6 Once a senior falls, they’re more likely to do it again, so install rails in hallways to avoid broken bones or worse.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Install one on every floor in your home—including the basement and garage. If you need help finding the best carbon monoxide detectors, read our guide.

Smoke Detectors

Research conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and National Fire Incident Reporting System revealed that people sixty-five and older are 2.5 times more likely to die in a fire than any other age group, and people over eighty-five are four times more likely than other demographics to die in fires.7 Since over 3,000 people died in structure fires in 20148—and about 60% of them don’t have working smoke alarms9—it’s vital for seniors to install smoke detectors.

Smoke detectors work most efficiently when placed in every hallway, outside each bedroom door, and on all floors in the home. There are dozens of models to choose from, but SafeWise researched the top smoke detectors to help our community find the best options.

Rails

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 2.8 million adults over age sixty-five are admitted to the hospital for fall-related injuries every year.6 Once a senior falls, they’re more likely to do it again, so install rails in hallways to avoid broken bones or worse.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Install one on every floor in your home—including the basement and garage. If you need help finding the best carbon monoxide detectors, read our guide.

Smoke Detectors

Research conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and National Fire Incident Reporting System revealed that people sixty-five and older are 2.5 times more likely to die in a fire than any other age group, and people over eighty-five are four times more likely than other demographics to die in fires.7 Since over 3,000 people died in structure fires in 20148—and about 60% of them don’t have working smoke alarms9—it’s vital for seniors to install smoke detectors.

Smoke detectors work most efficiently when placed in every hallway, outside each bedroom door, and on all floors in the home. There are dozens of models to choose from, but SafeWise researched the top smoke detectors to help our community find the best options.

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Bedroom

Average Americans spend one-third of their day sleeping, so it’s important to keep the place where we do that—the bedroom—a safe environment.

Fire Escape Ladders

According to the US Census Bureau, mobility issues are the most common disability among people over age sixty-five. In fact, about ten million older people in the US struggle with mobility issues.10 Seniors who have a difficult time getting around should consider buying a fire escape ladder or permanent fire escape staircase. Making a fire escape plan also helps prepare for events like these and raise the odds for seniors to escape a fire safely.

Bed Rails

Seniors can fall when getting in and out of bed. Instead of running the risk of fall-related injuries, install a bed rail for added stability and safety.

Valuables

Seniors are easy targets for burglars. A home security system keeps burglars out in the first place, but a home safe prevents criminals from taking valuables if they do get into the house.

Fire Escape Ladders

According to the US Census Bureau, mobility issues are the most common disability among people over age sixty-five. In fact, about ten million older people in the US struggle with mobility issues.10 Seniors who have a difficult time getting around should consider buying a fire escape ladder or permanent fire escape staircase. Making a fire escape plan also helps prepare for events like these and raise the odds for seniors to escape a fire safely.

Bed Rails

Seniors can fall when getting in and out of bed. Instead of running the risk of fall-related injuries, install a bed rail for added stability and safety.

Valuables

Seniors are easy targets for burglars. A home security system keeps burglars out in the first place, but a home safe prevents criminals from taking valuables if they do get into the house.

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Bathroom

The bathroom is the most dangerous place in the home when it comes to falls, so follow the tips below to make this room safer for seniors.

Medicine

Day-of-the-week pill containers benefit those who take medicine every day—especially seniors. Apps also help remind seniors to take their medication on time and let contacts check in on them virtually to make sure they’re maintaining their health.

Bath Mats

According to the CDC, more than 230,000 people visited emergency rooms in 2008 due to injuries that happened in bathrooms—and 14% were admitted for prolonged hospital stays11 The CDC also reports that bathroom injury risk increases with age12—and such injuries can cause broken hips, head trauma, and even death. Lay bathmats on bathroom floors to give more traction and prevent slipping.

Accessible Tubs and Showers

Outfitting tubs and showers with handrails and seats makes them safer and easier for older people to bathe. This equipment comes in a variety of designs to help seniors with all levels of mobility. Browse senior shower accessories like benches and stools to make the bathroom a safer place.

Medicine

Day-of-the-week pill containers benefit those who take medicine every day—especially seniors. Apps also help remind seniors to take their medication on time and let contacts check in on them virtually to make sure they’re maintaining their health.

Bath Mats

According to the CDC, more than 230,000 people visited emergency rooms in 2008 due to injuries that happened in bathrooms—and 14% were admitted for prolonged hospital stays11 The CDC also reports that bathroom injury risk increases with age12—and such injuries can cause broken hips, head trauma, and even death. Lay bathmats on bathroom floors to give more traction and prevent slipping.

Accessible Tubs and Showers

Outfitting tubs and showers with handrails and seats makes them safer and easier for older people to bathe. This equipment comes in a variety of designs to help seniors with all levels of mobility. Browse senior shower accessories like benches and stools to make the bathroom a safer place.

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Kitchen

The kitchen is hazardous to people of all ages because of hot surfaces, sharp objects, and heavy appliances. Here are some ways to ensure senior safety in the kitchen.

Fire Extinguishers

About 50% of all house fires start in the kitchen, based on research by the National Fire Protection Association.13 Stop a small fire before it becomes a huge blaze by keeping a fire extinguisher on hand. Read about fire extinguishers in our buyers guide so you can bring the best one home.

Stools

Unless you’re really tall, you probably can’t reach every shelf in your kitchen. Prevent falls in the kitchen with these senior-specific step stools.

Fire Extinguishers

About 50% of all house fires start in the kitchen, based on research by the National Fire Protection Association.13 Stop a small fire before it becomes a huge blaze by keeping a fire extinguisher on hand. Read about fire extinguishers in our buyers guide so you can bring the best one home.

Stools

Unless you’re really tall, you probably can’t reach every shelf in your kitchen. Prevent falls in the kitchen with these senior-specific step stools.

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Outside

Once the inside of your home is optimized for senior safety, incorporate these outdoor tips for a seriously secure home and lifestyle.

GPS Wearables

Seniors with cognitive impairment may become lost and disoriented. GPS wearable devices made for older adults are the best way to prevent this from happening. If a senior is lost, you can log into the app to locate them and send help.

Security Cameras

Home security cameras detect danger before it makes its way inside. Stop a home invasion by installing a home security camera outside your home or on the home of someone you care for.

Ramps

Wheelchair ramps add accessibility to your home and are a safe way for people with disabilities to get around. Find information about wheelchair ramps for your home.

Smart Doorbells

Smart doorbells are a perfect complement to smart locks because they let you see who’s at the door before you open it. Browse smart doorbells if you’re interested in this added security.

Smart Locks

Smart locks operate through apps and can alert the homeowner and contacts if a door is left open—making them ideal for seniors. Shop smart locks to keep track of guests, monitor when people come and go, and prevent break-ins.

GPS Wearables

Seniors with cognitive impairment may become lost and disoriented. GPS wearable devices made for older adults are the best way to prevent this from happening. If a senior is lost, you can log into the app to locate them and send help.

Security Cameras

Home security cameras detect danger before it makes its way inside. Stop a home invasion by installing a home security camera outside your home or on the home of someone you care for.

Ramps

Wheelchair ramps add accessibility to your home and are a safe way for people with disabilities to get around. Find information about wheelchair ramps for your home.

Smart Doorbells

Smart doorbells are a perfect complement to smart locks because they let you see who’s at the door before you open it. Browse smart doorbells if you’re interested in this added security.

Smart Locks

Smart locks operate through apps and can alert the homeowner and contacts if a door is left open—making them ideal for seniors. Shop smart locks to keep track of guests, monitor when people come and go, and prevent break-ins.

Live a Happy, Healthy Life

With proper precaution and care, seniors can live happily and safely in their homes longer—and those who love them can rest easy with peace of mind. Interested in general home safety? Head back to the SafeWise safety hub to read more of our room-by-room safety guides.

SafeWise Car Safety Guide

Auto Safety from Driveway to Highway

With over 250 million cars in the U.S., it’s safe to say that driving is an ingrained and essential part of our lives. Every day, Americans take 1.1 billion trips in the car and cover millions of miles while transporting pets and family members, going on vacation, running errands, and traveling to work.1 That’s why it’s so important to learn proper auto safety protocol to protect yourself in and around your car—and to protect your car itself. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled safety information about car seats, seat belts, defensive driving courses, car alarms, and more.

Under the Hood

Oil Levels

Oil keeps everything lubricated and running smoothly in your engine, preventing metal from grinding on metal. When oil is low or old, your car will overheat and break down—not to mention cost you a ton to get it fixed. Get your oil changed every 2,000–5,000 miles (depending on whether you choose real or synthetic products) and check it periodically with a dipstick to ensure oil levels are sufficient.

Hood Latch

After peeking under the hood, give the latch a tug to verify it’s locked up tight. You wouldn’t want it flying up while you’re on the road!

Battery

Car batteries last about six years, but extreme cold, not driving for long periods of time, and taking short trips (not allowing your battery to fully recharge) affect this dramatically. Avoid coming outside to a dead and unusable car by asking your mechanic to test your battery. If the charge is below 25 percent, get a new one or carry a backup for when it fails.

Lights

Daytime Running Lights

Daytime running lights allow drivers to see you better in all lighting conditions. Plus, they’re automatic, so you never have to think about enabling this added safety feature.

Headlights/Tail Lights

Before you drive anywhere, check your headlights and tail lights. These lights help you see critters and objects on the road and let other drivers know you’re there, so they’re really important. If you drive with broken lights you might discover another downside: getting tickets from the police.

Windshield

Wipers

Dirty windshields cause glare and blind spots, obstructing your view of the road and what’s in front of you. Don’t make a dirty windshield worse by using old windshield wipers to clean up the problem. Instead, change your wiper blades once a year (or more often) and keep your windshield wiper fluid levels up, so your glass is always clean and clear.

Glass

Cracks are dangerous because they weaken your windshield, reflect light, and block your view. Always have a professional replace windshields with cracks longer than six inches, and patch cracks larger than a quarter to avoid running into problems (literally).

Tires

Tire Pressure

Properly inflated tires provide traction and keep you in control of your car. However, when tires are overfilled they may burst while you’re driving, and when they’re deflated you could lose the ability to steer properly.

Most cars have lights that turn on when your tire pressure is low, but buy a gauge to check manually before long road trips and between oil changes. Look at the rim of your tire or your car’s manual to determine how many pounds of air your tires hold, so they’re filled correctly every time. Here’s a quick tutorial to teach you how to fill your tires at the gas station.

Extreme Weather

Driving in the wind, rain, snow, ice, or blistering heat requires different driving tactics, tires, and safety knowledge. All-weather tires tackle most of these conditions, but consider upgrading to snow tires if you live in a cold, icy, and snowy climate.

Here’s what you should do in the winter before going on a roadtrip and other tips to enhance your safety while driving any any time of the year.

Dash

Hands-free Devices

It’s a ticketable offense in most states to talk and drive without a hands-free device—plus, it’s dangerous. Hook your phone up to Bluetooth while driving and turn on automated text responses so you don’t get distracted by incoming messages.

Dash Cams

Dash cams are a fairly new technology that monitor everything that happens in and around your car. Some insurance companies use dash cams to determine your auto insurance rates, but personal cameras record accidents and crimes and offer protection in a court of law. For instance, if you get into a hit-and-run accident, your camera will record the license plate number so you can track down the driver. Buy a dashcam for your car to give yourself an iron-clad witness to everything that happens on the road.

Car Alarms

Deter thieves from breaking into your car or driving away with it by installing a car alarm. Models range in sophistication and price, so whether you want a car alarm that sends alerts to your phone or a basic siren that scares thieves away, there’s a security product for you. Stay a few steps ahead of potential car thieves by reading about how to prevent auto break-ins, too.

Steering Wheel Locks

Steering wheel locks are a great alternative to larger car alarm systems because of their affordable price tag. These locks differ in strength and design, but all models prevent the wheel from turning and someone from driving off in your car. Compare top steering wheel locks that are tough enough to stand up to an attempted carjacking to give yourself a solid defense against car thieves.

Back-up Cameras

Back-up cameras eliminate blind spots to help you avoid running over objects, toys, animals, and people while you’re in reverse. Most new cars have rear cameras, which show you what’s immediately in back of your car, but you can install backup cameras in older cars too.

Front Seat

Seat Belts

Seat belts save lives. In 2014, the CDC reported that 12,000 people survived car accidents because they were wearing seat belts, and seat belts reduced serious injury by 50 percent in all accidents reported.2

No matter how old you are, always buckle up before driving. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, car accidents are the ninth-leading cause of death in the world, so seat belts are a simple solution to this preventable problem.3

Passenger Safety

Cars become ovens in the sun. Between 1998–2016, 700 children died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars—about 34 per year on average.4 Unfortunately, dozens of dogs suffer this same fate every year. Even when it’s 78 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, internal car temperatures can climb to 120 degrees in minutes. And on a 90-degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for internal car temperatures to reach 160 degrees.5

Animals and children succumb to heatstroke in mere minutes when exposed to extreme temperatures, so never leave them inside without the car running—even when the windows are cracked or just for a couple of minutes. You may not think this will ever happen to you, but 54 percent of all child heat stroke-related deaths happened when a parent or caretaker accidentally left a child in the car. Kars 4 Kids has a safety app to combat this issue that reminds you when a child (or pet) is in your car so you never suffer a tragedy.

Back Seat

Car Seats

Car seats are vital to the safety of your child and are required in all 50 states. However, not just any car seat will do. SafeWise conducted vast research to find top-rated car seats that exceed safety standards, optimize convenience, and cater to the unique needs of parents and children alike. Read our review of the best car seats available and learn from child safety expert Gloria Delcasto, who shared tips exclusively with SafeWise about the importance of seat belts, car seats, and booster seats.

Welcoming a new member to the family soon? Prepare your home for a little one by reading our complete baby-proofing guide that covers everything from unknown household dangers to how to properly cover outlets and more.

Pet Harnesses

You wouldn’t put your child in a car without a seat belt, so why would you do that to your pet? When shopping for a pet car harness, do so wisely because 25 out of 29 dog harnesses haven’t passed realistic crash tests.6 That’s because the Consumer Products Safety Commission does not oversee or regulate pet harnesses since they aren’t viewed as consumer products. On the up side, four pet harnesses and travel crates did pass crash tests and are deemed safe to use for your precious fur babies.

Roof

Roof Racks and Cargo

Unsecured cargo can turn into a missile when you suddenly stop or swerve on the road, risking your safety and the safety of others. To prevent tragedy or an insurance nightmare, always use a roof carrier and tie-down straps to secure items. Here’s more about properly securing cargo to your car’s roof for safer travels.

Trunk

Jumper Cables

A dead battery means you’re stranded wherever you are. This is potentially dangerous if it’s bitterly cold, you have a medical emergency, or you’re in an unsafe part of town. Carry jumper cables so another driver can help get your car started, or keep an emergency jump starter in your emergency kit to charge your car yourself if no one is around.

Roadside Safety Kits

Cars rarely break down, blow a tire, or get into accidents in convenient locations. That’s where roadside safety kits come in. These handy kits include everything from flares and reflective triangles to jacks, water, and flashlights. Make your own safety kit to get better prepared and use our car safety guide to determine what else you should have in your car at all times to stay safe.

Cargo

Even though your car stops when you slam on the brakes, loose items in the car may not. Whenever possible, tie down and secure heavy items inside your car or trunk and pack heaviest to lightest, so objects don’t become airborne and get damaged—or hurt you or your passengers.

The Extra Mile: Auto Safety Education and Industry Standards

Defensive Driving Classes

Becoming a responsible driver comes from experience, but you may accelerate your driving prowess with education and awareness training offered in defensive driving courses. These classes teach drivers about developing better driving behaviors, avoiding hazards on the road, and the dangers of driving while drowsy or inebriated. Find a defensive driving class near you to round out your auto safety.

IHHS Top Safety Picks

Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IHHS), an automotive auditing group with rigorous safety and quality standards, publishes a study on the safest cars. This study analyzes front and side crash test results as well as some of the safety features discussed in this article. If you’re looking to buy a new car or assess the safety of your current vehicle, take a look at IHHS’s top safety picks from 2006–2016.

Drive Safe!

Your car is your means to see the world and shuttle yourself and loved ones safely. The next time you take a drive, park in a lot, or lock up your car for the night, remember the tips in this guide to make your car and driving habits safer and more secure.

Find Your Perfect Home Security System

Baby Proof It: A Room-by-Room Guide to Securing Your Home

baby crawling

Once you become a parent, it can seem like danger lurks around every corner. And when it comes to your home, that’s literally true. For toddlers just learning to walk or curious preschoolers, your home can be a brave new world full of the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. While many parents are haunted by the specter of stranger danger, it’s actually accidents within the home that carry the largest risk for young children. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that each year, 9.2 million children visit the ER with unintentional injuries1. For those ages one to four, the greatest percentage of injuries were sustained from falls, ingesting poisonous substances, burns, and being struck by objects. The vast majority of these incidents take place in the familiar terrain of a child’s own home. Accidents both at home and away are the leading cause of death in children and teenagers.

Kimberlee Mitchell, a former journalist and Child Safety Media Expert dubbed by People.com as the “child proofer to the stars,” is passionate about offering practical solutions and education aimed at lowering unintentional child injuries. In a recent exclusive interview for SafeWise, she shared her insight about the impact of child safety.

“Child injury is predictable and preventable. It is also among the most under-recognized public health problems facing our country today. The good news is child injury death rates have decreased 29% in the last decade, which I believe is evidence of the safety movement and prevention having an impact. Yet injury is still the leading cause of death for children and teens. More can be done to keep our children safe.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert

We understand you don’t want to dampen Junior’s enthusiasm for exploration, but a few sensible safety measures can protect your child from the most common injuries. We’ve created a room-by-room guide to securing a safe place for your offspring to pull, climb, and inspect every nook and cranny. We’ll begin with some baby proofing basics that are concerns in every part of your home, then give you a peek into the aspects of each area that require your attention. While we’ve devised a very detailed guide to making your home a safe place for your kids, it should be noted that there is no substitute for supervision. Even a well-secured space can contain hidden dangers, so keep your eyes open and read on.

The Basics of Baby Proofing

When to Baby Proof

Ideally, you want to batten down the hatches before tornado toddler starts to sweep through. Once babies turn over onto their stomachs, usually around five to six months old, crawling is just a few months away. Start some common-sense measures like securing furniture and installing gates before baby starts using every surface as a step up.


How to Baby Proof

There are a few ways you can get the lay of the land in your home and ensure you’ve caught the usual suspects for safety concerns. Child-safety experts recommend doing the following.

Limit Access to High-Risk Areas

Simply gate off rooms like the kitchen or bathroom where the greatest concentration of injury risk resides.

Get a Baby’s-Eye View

Crawling around on all fours may seem like a silly exercise, but it’s the best way to see what your baby sees. It’ll help you spot potential risks like enticing knickknacks or forgotten blind cords dangling within reach.

Focus on the Little Things

No, this isn’t a metaphor. Look for small objects near the ground that could become potential choking hazards. Think magnets, button batteries, and more. As a bonus, you might also spot all those dust bunnies you’ve neglected to vacuum up under the couch. Some things you just can’t un-see.

Put Away the Poison

This applies not only to the obvious caustic cleaning chemicals but also to the often overlooked items like poisonous houseplants. If you’re not sure which plants are safe, you can use this nifty online resource complete with photos from the Poison Control Center.

“Every home is different with varying architecture, floor-plan layout, furniture, etc., but kitchens are full of hazards. It’s best to gate off access to the kitchen and always place the baby in the high chair during meal prep so your child is not underfoot and does not have access to you while your attention is diverted on preparing food.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert

What to Baby Proof

If you’re just beginning the process of child proofing your home, it can seem pretty overwhelming. Thousands of products crowd the parenting market with a plethora of features that promise unparalleled protection. But do they deliver? Here’s a quick summary of each category of child safety products and some basic features to look for.

Latches and Locks

These simple mechanisms can keep dangerous chemicals and other potentially hazardous items under lock and key. Look for latches and locks made of sturdy materials that won’t give way easily or snap under stress. You’ll also want to ensure the latches and locks you choose are ones you can actually open. You know, in case you need that stuff sometime in the next three years. For maximum safety, move poisonous substances to higher cupboards and cabinets that are well out of baby’s reach.

Safety Gates

You shall not pass! Play gatekeeper with products that are easy for adults to open but have a locking mechanism to deter toddlers. If you do choose a gate with slats, make sure they’re no more than 2 3/8 inches wide to prevent tiny heads from suffering suffocation. Take some measurements to guarantee your gate will adequately span the space you’re blocking off and don’t use older accordion-style safety gates. These products were pulled from the market for strangulation concerns.

Window Guards

Some child proofing gadgets can be life savers. Literally. Typically pressure mounted and adjustable, window guards should have quick-release mechanisms to allow for escape during emergencies.

Edge and Corner Guards

Protect your little explorer from the sharp edges of tables, fireplaces, and more with these soft covers. Look for guards that are non toxic and large enough not to become choking hazards if they get pried loose by curious fingers.

Outlet Covers

The little holes that accommodate your electrical appliances are unfortunately perfect for tiny digits. Remove temptation with outlet covers but choose ones that slide open and closed instead of the cheap plastic inserts, which can become choking hazards.

Furniture Anchors

Look out below! Creepers and crawlers are constantly using furniture or an electronic device to get a leg up, but it’s a dangerous endeavor. If you have a heavy piece of furniture or electronic that isn’t secure, it could topple over and crush your child. It’s one of the most common injuries for young children, but it’s easily preventable with furniture anchors. Use two anchors and make sure they’re screwed into the wall studs so your little sweetie can continue trying to scale every surface safely.


Who to Trust

As you peruse the products for baby proofing your home, keep in mind that there are a few agencies that police child safety. Here are the most important ones.

JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association)

Look for the JPMA seal of approval on child safety products to ensure they’ve been tested by this non profit safety association. For a directory of approved products and detailed guides, see the JPMA website.

CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission)

This government watchdog drafts regulations for products and is the agency that issues recalls. For an up-to-date list of kid and baby product recalls, see the CPSC website.

Child-Safety Experts

And finally, for the anxious and sleep deprived who’d rather not go it alone, there are child-proofing experts who will provide consultations and install products in your home. Consider hiring one to secure areas of high risk, like pools or outside window wells. You can find a state-by-state directory here. It’s always a case of better safe than sorry.

“The most common mistake most parents and caregivers make is that they wait too long to start the child proofing process and they find themselves in a panic. If you start early, you can get ahead of the curve and child proof in phases so it’s not a financial burden and not so overwhelming.” Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert

Room-By-Room Guide to a Safer Home

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Garage

Hazardous and Flammable Materials

This involves more than just putting all those unused gallons of paint away. Secure cleaning products and other chemicals and lock down tools, especially those with sharp edges.

Cars

Keep your vehicle doors locked so when your little one decides to become the next Nascar driver, they won’t be able to put the pedal to the metal.

Buckets and Bins

Keep receptacles that could gather water turned over so they don’t become small water features that’ll attract your child and pose a drowning risk.

Hazardous and Flammable Materials

This involves more than just putting all those unused gallons of paint away. Secure cleaning products and other chemicals and lock down tools, especially those with sharp edges.

Cars

Keep your vehicle doors locked so when your little one decides to become the next Nascar driver, they won’t be able to put the pedal to the metal.

Buckets and Bins

Keep receptacles that could gather water turned over so they don’t become small water features that’ll attract your child and pose a drowning risk.

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Basement & Laundry Room

Cleaning Products

Many people keep cleaning supplies in the basement or laundry room. Make sure they’re in an out-of-reach cabinet or behind a securely locked cupboard. And keep poison control on speed dial regardless.

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 800-222-1222

Washer and Dryer

Anchor these heavy appliances and ensure they’re locked so little hide-and-seekers don’t dive in.

Carbon Monoxide

Install several carbon monoxide monitors to ensure levels in your home are safe. There should be an alarm on every floor of your house, primarily near the areas where children and adults might sleep, as well as in the basement or wherever the furnace or gas appliances reside.

Cleaning Products

Many people keep cleaning supplies in the basement or laundry room. Make sure they’re in an out-of-reach cabinet or behind a securely locked cupboard. And keep poison control on speed dial regardless.

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 800-222-1222

Washer and Dryer

Anchor these heavy appliances and ensure they’re locked so little hide-and-seekers don’t dive in.

Carbon Monoxide

Install several carbon monoxide monitors to ensure levels in your home are safe. There should be an alarm on every floor of your house, primarily near the areas where children and adults might sleep, as well as in the basement or wherever the furnace or gas appliances reside.

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Hallways

Doors

You’re probably not ready for the slamming doors that come with raising teenagers, and neither are your little one’s fingers. Use doorknob locks, hinge guards, doorstops, and other simple gadgets to prevent passage and protect.

Rugs

Unless you want to go slip-sliding away, you should make an effort to secure floor rugs and loose carpeting. Grippers and nonstick pads are available to protect your floors and keep your feet from flying out from under you.

Stairs

Restrict access to these steep challenges with a safety gate. You can also consider some common-sense measures like carpeting the stairs, but don’t forget the railings. A banister shield will prevent small appendages from getting wedged into those gaps between the rails.

Outlets

Use sliding covers to close off those enticing little holes that seem like the perfect fit for small fingers.

Doors

You’re probably not ready for the slamming doors that come with raising teenagers, and neither are your little one’s fingers. Use doorknob locks, hinge guards, doorstops, and other simple gadgets to prevent passage and protect.

Rugs

Unless you want to go slip-sliding away, you should make an effort to secure floor rugs and loose carpeting. Grippers and nonstick pads are available to protect your floors and keep your feet from flying out from under you.

Stairs

Restrict access to these steep challenges with a safety gate. You can also consider some common-sense measures like carpeting the stairs, but don’t forget the railings. A banister shield will prevent small appendages from getting wedged into those gaps between the rails.

Outlets

Use sliding covers to close off those enticing little holes that seem like the perfect fit for small fingers.

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Nursery

Crib

That vintage crib may be the apple of your eye, but it’s likely dangerous for your baby. To ensure your crib meets current child safety standards, see the JPMA website.

Bedding and Stuffed Animals

Those stuffed animals and handmade quilts are adorable, but for young babies, they’re a suffocation risk. Keep the cozy bling out of the crib until your child is older and able to sit on their own.

Toy Box

If you’ve opted for a tidy box instead of open shelving, you’ll want to make sure your toy storage has hinge guards and doesn’t close automatically, trapping your tyke inside.

Changing Table

We have all done it. You were just out of reach for a moment, grabbing that butt paste. But that was the exact instant your baby chose to demonstrate an ability to roll over. Keep supplies at the table or move your changing pad to the floor once baby becomes more mobile to prevent falls.

Mobiles

A gorgeous mobile is the centerpiece of any nursery. It’s also dangling enticingly right above a baby who can now reach for it and pull it down. Move the mobile or raise it higher to keep it from becoming a hazard.

Crib

That vintage crib may be the apple of your eye, but it’s likely dangerous for your baby. To ensure your crib meets current child safety standards, see the JPMA website.

Bedding and Stuffed Animals

Those stuffed animals and handmade quilts are adorable, but for young babies, they’re a suffocation risk. Keep the cozy bling out of the crib until your child is older and able to sit on their own.

Toy Box

If you’ve opted for a tidy box instead of open shelving, you’ll want to make sure your toy storage has hinge guards and doesn’t close automatically, trapping your tyke inside.

Changing Table

We have all done it. You were just out of reach for a moment, grabbing that butt paste. But that was the exact instant your baby chose to demonstrate an ability to roll over. Keep supplies at the table or move your changing pad to the floor once baby becomes more mobile to prevent falls.

Mobiles

A gorgeous mobile is the centerpiece of any nursery. It’s also dangling enticingly right above a baby who can now reach for it and pull it down. Move the mobile or raise it higher to keep it from becoming a hazard.

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Bathrooms

Toilets

Get a toilet lock. Seriously. Because your kid might mistake that inviting bowl of water as place to play. Ewww! It’s also a drowning hazard.

Bedding and Stuffed Animals

Same goes for your medicines, health supplements, and yes, even vitamins. These chewables often look like candy, and too many kids make the mistake of eating a handful of pills. Don’t have the number for Poison Control in your phone? We’ll make it easy for you. Don’t worry. We’ll wait while you take care of this.

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 800-222-1222 Got it? Good. Let’s continue.

Beauty and Personal Care Products

Many of the chemicals in hygiene products are as caustic as those in cleaning supplies, so clear the counter of cosmetics and keep your personal care supplies under lock and key. Hot irons or other appliances should be unplugged and stowed when not in use.

Bathtub

Turn your furnace down to prevent scalds from hot water and get a thermometer for the tub. Wet babies are slippery babies, so install a nonslip mat to help you get a grip. And never, ever leave your baby unattended in the tub, even for a second. And buffer that bath spout. It’s right at noggin height for your little bather.

Toilets

Get a toilet lock. Seriously. Because your kid might mistake that inviting bowl of water as place to play. Ewww! It’s also a drowning hazard.

Bedding and Stuffed Animals

Same goes for your medicines, health supplements, and yes, even vitamins. These chewables often look like candy, and too many kids make the mistake of eating a handful of pills. Don’t have the number for Poison Control in your phone? We’ll make it easy for you. Don’t worry. We’ll wait while you take care of this.

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 800-222-1222 Got it? Good. Let’s continue.

Beauty and Personal Care Products

Many of the chemicals in hygiene products are as caustic as those in cleaning supplies, so clear the counter of cosmetics and keep your personal care supplies under lock and key. Hot irons or other appliances should be unplugged and stowed when not in use.

Bathtub

Turn your furnace down to prevent scalds from hot water and get a thermometer for the tub. Wet babies are slippery babies, so install a nonslip mat to help you get a grip. And never, ever leave your baby unattended in the tub, even for a second. And buffer that bath spout. It’s right at noggin height for your little bather.

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Living Room & Bathrooms

Windows

Window guards can keep your little tyke from taking a terrible tumble, but you should also inspect blinds and window coverings for loose or dangling cords. This safety website will help you cut the cord and has instructions about how to retrofit your current blinds or curtains.

Tables and Furniture

Bookcases can look like a staircase to little feet eager for a climbing challenge, so be sure they’re secured to the wall with anchors. Guard against sharp edges on your tables and lower pieces of furniture with bumpers and edge covers.

TV

Flickering lights and curious sounds emit from this enormous box, and most kids are eager to get up close and personal. Secure your TV with an anchoring system and NEVER, EVER place it on top of a dresser where it could tip and tumble onto your toddler.

Fireplace

This part of your home is hot stuff. Keep your little one from toddling into trouble by using a guard door and protecting any hard edges around the mantle with edge guards.

Knickknacks

Smaller objects, glass figurines, and more probably crowd tabletops and shelves in your living spaces. Even if they’re not going to win you a bundle of money the next time Antiques Roadshow comes to town, you still want to place knickknacks out of reach. Once broken, smaller fragments could cut your child or cause them to choke.

Electric Cords

Welcome to the digital age and the ever-expanding issue of cord management. They’re messy and unsightly but even worse for your child, they also pose a strangulation hazard. Get ‘em up and out of the way with ties or tape designed to keep your cords close and your child safe.

Windows

Window guards can keep your little tyke from taking a terrible tumble, but you should also inspect blinds and window coverings for loose or dangling cords. This safety website will help you cut the cord and has instructions about how to retrofit your current blinds or curtains.

Tables and Furniture

Bookcases can look like a staircase to little feet eager for a climbing challenge, so be sure they’re secured to the wall with anchors. Guard against sharp edges on your tables and lower pieces of furniture with bumpers and edge covers.

TV

Flickering lights and curious sounds emit from this enormous box, and most kids are eager to get up close and personal. Secure your TV with an anchoring system and NEVER, EVER place it on top of a dresser where it could tip and tumble onto your toddler.

Fireplace

This part of your home is hot stuff. Keep your little one from toddling into trouble by using a guard door and protecting any hard edges around the mantle with edge guards.

Knickknacks

Smaller objects, glass figurines, and more probably crowd tabletops and shelves in your living spaces. Even if they’re not going to win you a bundle of money the next time Antiques Roadshow comes to town, you still want to place knickknacks out of reach. Once broken, smaller fragments could cut your child or cause them to choke.

Electric Cords

Welcome to the digital age and the ever-expanding issue of cord management. They’re messy and unsightly but even worse for your child, they also pose a strangulation hazard. Get ‘em up and out of the way with ties or tape designed to keep your cords close and your child safe.

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Kitchen

Cupboards

Maybe there are some cupboards you’re willing to let baby explore. After all, banging pots and pans is a sacred rite of childhood. Inspect yours and decide what needs to be moved or locked up. You should definitely consider securing the following items.

• Cleaning Products

• Liquor and Tobacco Products

• Sharp Objects

• Anything Made Out of Glass

• Plastic or Paper Bags

Stove and Oven

Shiny knobs are great fun to turn, and while it’s good motor practice, it is also a terrible risk for your tyke. Knob covers, stove covers, and oven locks are all helpful in keeping little fingers away from the heat.

Magnets

Do you have a few of these on your fridge? Of course you do! Everybody does. But you’ll want to move them. Most magnets are small and easy to swallow, and the stronger ones can wreak havoc if ingested.

Vitamins and Supplements

We mentioned this one before, but it’s a risk worth harping on. Kids are used to eating vitamins. They’re cute and colorful, and they come in familiar shapes that look exactly like candy. In small doses, they bolster health. In large doses, they can cause iron poisoning. Make sure you’re the only person who can hand out the health supplements by keeping them out of reach.

Fire Extinguisher

Accidents happen, even to parents. Especially in the kitchen. There’s a gross bathroom emergency or a screech as someone tumbles down the stairs, and the last thing you’re thinking about is that pot you left on the stove. Keep a fire extinguisher accessible but be careful that it’s not within reach of your child. The fire retardant in extinguishers is toxic to ingest even in small doses.

Appliances

Even if they’re out of reach, far back on the counter, you’ll have an adventurous climber sooner than you anticipated. Keep appliances like toasters, mixers, and coffeepots unplugged when not in use.

Cupboards

Maybe there are some cupboards you’re willing to let baby explore. After all, banging pots and pans is a sacred rite of childhood. Inspect yours and decide what needs to be moved or locked up. You should definitely consider securing the following items.

• Cleaning Products

• Liquor and Tobacco Products

• Sharp Objects

• Anything Made Out of Glass

• Plastic or Paper Bags

Stove and Oven

Shiny knobs are great fun to turn, and while it’s good motor practice, it is also a terrible risk for your tyke. Knob covers, stove covers, and oven locks are all helpful in keeping little fingers away from the heat.

Magnets

Do you have a few of these on your fridge? Of course you do! Everybody does. But you’ll want to move them. Most magnets are small and easy to swallow, and the stronger ones can wreak havoc if ingested.

Vitamins and Supplements

We mentioned this one before, but it’s a risk worth harping on. Kids are used to eating vitamins. They’re cute and colorful, and they come in familiar shapes that look exactly like candy. In small doses, they bolster health. In large doses, they can cause iron poisoning. Make sure you’re the only person who can hand out the health supplements by keeping them out of reach.

Fire Extinguisher

Accidents happen, even to parents. Especially in the kitchen. There’s a gross bathroom emergency or a screech as someone tumbles down the stairs, and the last thing you’re thinking about is that pot you left on the stove. Keep a fire extinguisher accessible but be careful that it’s not within reach of your child. The fire retardant in extinguishers is toxic to ingest even in small doses.

Appliances

Even if they’re out of reach, far back on the counter, you’ll have an adventurous climber sooner than you anticipated. Keep appliances like toasters, mixers, and coffeepots unplugged when not in use.

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Outdoors

Window Wells

Do you have these mammoth caverns around the basement windows of your home? Cover them up. Immediately. Children of all ages fall into them while running and sustain serious injuries.

Pools and Spas

If you have a pool or spa, it’s going to need multiple layers of protection to keep your kiddo safe from accidental drowning. Gates, locks, and covers, installed by professionals, are highly recommended. Search for a licensed safety expert in your area here.

Playground Equipment

If you’ve got a playset in your backyard, you’ll probably be the popular parents on the block. Make sure you check it regularly for structural integrity and keep informed about potential recalls over at the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

Plants and Soil

Making mud pies is a childhood tradition, but young children may attempt to actually eat them. Gasp! Make sure that the plants and landscaping in your yard is nontoxic and keep pesticides and enhanced soils that might contain high levels of fertilizer away from those adorable, hungry little faces.

Balconies and Decks

Sitting out on the deck and enjoying the breeze is a beautiful thing, right up until your kid gives you a heart attack by wedging their appendages or head into the slats or leaning perilously over the railing. Restrict access to these outdoor spaces until an adult is safely on hand to supervise.

Window Wells

Do you have these mammoth caverns around the basement windows of your home? Cover them up. Immediately. Children of all ages fall into them while running and sustain serious injuries.

Pools and Spas

If you have a pool or spa, it’s going to need multiple layers of protection to keep your kiddo safe from accidental drowning. Gates, locks, and covers, installed by professionals, are highly recommended. Search for a licensed safety expert in your area here.

Playground Equipment

If you’ve got a playset in your backyard, you’ll probably be the popular parents on the block. Make sure you check it regularly for structural integrity and keep informed about potential recalls over at the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

Plants and Soil

Making mud pies is a childhood tradition, but young children may attempt to actually eat them. Gasp! Make sure that the plants and landscaping in your yard is nontoxic and keep pesticides and enhanced soils that might contain high levels of fertilizer away from those adorable, hungry little faces.

Balconies and Decks

Sitting out on the deck and enjoying the breeze is a beautiful thing, right up until your kid gives you a heart attack by wedging their appendages or head into the slats or leaning perilously over the railing. Restrict access to these outdoor spaces until an adult is safely on hand to supervise.

Everywhere

Houseplants

Some plants can be poisonous, and others have trailing vines that can be of concern. Keep plants up high and away from prying fingers.

Pet Food

Fido’s food is probably not the best source of nutrition for your baby, and it’s definitely a serious risk for choking. Closely supervise mealtime, and when your pet is done, put their food up.

Lead Paint

Your kid probably doesn’t lick the walls much. Thank goodness! But if you have an older home (built before 1978), there could be lead paint chips in places you might not suspect. Get your home tested and see the EPA’s comprehensive guide on protecting your family from lead exposure.

Batteries

All kinds of batteries are dangerous, but the small button batteries that are in many small electronics and toys are especially hazardous. Check to be sure all the things that talk and tick have batteries secured behind screw-on covers.

Whew! Feeling Overwhelmed?

woman and baby

Remember that child proofing your home is a process, one that you should start early and complete in stages. Every child and every environment has different demands, so take the time to assess your situation and your home carefully before you begin.

“I think a heathy balance somewhere in the middle, while taking into account your child’s age and temperament as well as the safety of the environment, is key. It’s not one-size-fits-all for every family, for all children, and in all locations.“ Kimberlee Mitchell, National Child Safety Expert

Once you’ve begun work to batten down the hatches in your home, remember that SafeWise is here to help. We provide in-depth reviews and guides for child safety products that assist parents in choosing the best solution for their needs. And while there are lots of sites that extoll the virtues of do-it-yourself safety hacks, those approaches can be faulty and sometimes downright dangerous. There is no substitute for quality products and expert, professional advice to ensure your little one stays safe and sound.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “CDC Childhood Injury Report” https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/child_injury_data.html

Your Ultimate Room-by-Room Guide To Home Safety

House Illustration

If you’re familiar with the SafeWise site, you’ve probably clicked around to find security tips about practically everything under the sun. But too many clicks might cause you to miss something vital to your personal safety.

To make it easier to find what you need—and stay safe—we’ve put everything that’s important to know about household safety in one place. Here, you can use our room-by-room guides to get tips about common home hazards, shop for the best products, and learn how you can fortify your home.

“Better safe than sorry” couldn’t be more of our mantra, so we hope you use this guide to find everything you need to live a safer life—and enhance your home’s security.

If you’re preparing to welcome a baby into your home, head on over to our baby-proofing guide that’s designed specifically for new parents.

General

General Things to Watch Out for at Home

Houseplants

Houseplants purify the air, but can become deadly when ingested by kids or pets. Keep them out of reach to prevent a disaster, or choose plants that aren’t harmful to people or animals:

  • Christmas Cactus
  • Coleus
  • Boston Fern
  • Spider Plant
  • Jade Plant
  • African Violets
  • Miniature Rose

Unless you have little kids, houseplants pose the greatest risk to curious cats and dogs. Read more about safe houseplants for pets (not necessarily humans) on the ASPCA website.

Lead Paint

This heavy metal is a dangerous one. It can cause developmental delays and even death when touched and ingested, which is why lead poisoning is most dangerous for children under six years old.

If your home was built before 1978, the paint on your walls could contain lead. While this is scary, getting your home tested and reading the Environmental Protection Agency’s guide to lead poisoning prevention is a way to avoid tragedy. When lead is properly sealed and remediated, there’s nothing to worry about.

Firearms

If you have firearms, tasers, or other weapons, keep them under lock and key. The best way to do this is by storing all weapons in a safe. Prevent kids and intruders from gaining access to your guns by bringing one of these top safes home.

Outlets

Outlets are especially dangerous for babies and toddlers, but can endanger your entire household. When left uncovered, kids can stick fingers and objects into them—resulting in electric shock—and if outlets rub up against furniture, they could start a fire.

Reduce the risk of any of the above by using smart outlets and outlet covers whenever possible. Smart outlets are our favorite because they let you control your appliances and electronics remotely, so if you forget to turn off the curling iron or coffee pot, you can shut it off from an app on your phone.

Room-by-Room Guide to a Safer Home

Ready to take a virtual walk through your home to see where you can improve safety? Let’s get to it.

Garage

Garage

Garages are home to our cars, lawn mowers, and—usually—lots of chemicals. Here’s what to watch out for and protect in your garage:

Hazardous & Flammable Materials

If you do have to keep hazardous materials on-hand, store them high up on shelves away from children and direct heat sources. Read more about what constitutes a hazardous material to determine the best way to store and dispose of items.

Garage Door Locks

Garage doors are often overlooked when it comes to home security. However, thieves can break into automatic garage doors in under six minutes if given the chance. Prevent intruders from getting into your garage with a few tweaks. Or, set yourself up for success by purchasing a better garage door opener.

Car Security

Protect your car while it’s parked in the garage or driveway with the help of steering wheel locks and car alarms. Follow these tips about car safety to safeguard your car in parking garages, too.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, poisonous gas that’s produced when you burn coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. While it occurs naturally in our environment, carbon monoxide becomes deadly when confined. That’s why you should never leave a car running inside of the garage. Without proper ventilation, toxic levels of carbon monoxide build up, seep into your home, and cause illness or worse. Read more about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to protect yourself and family from its effects.

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

According to Cleanenergy.com, the average American household does more than five loads of laundry per week. Since we spend so much time in the laundry room, make it a safe environment by paying close attention to the following possible hazards:

Gas Hook-ups

If you have a gas dryer, check and double check the hook-ups. Gas leaks cause explosions and fires in your home if left to accumulate to highly concentrated levels.

Dryer Lint

The National Fire Protection Association stated that washers and dryers caused over 16,000 fires and nearly $240 million in property claims in 2010—and dryers were the culprit in 92 percent of those fires. That’s because dryers collect lint, and lots of it. To avoid a dryer and house fire, clean your dryer lint from the trap after every use. Also, inspect the dryer vent for excess lint once a month. The cleaner your dryer is, the less likely it is to become kindling for a larger blaze.

Water Hook-ups

Most homeowners don’t shut off the water supply to the washer in between cycles. But if a pipe bursts, a Roto Rooter says that up to 500 gallons of water per hour can flood your home. The drainage pipe from your washer should also be monitored, so you don’t soak your floor during wash cycles.

Get in the habit of checking your water hook-ups monthly, so you can avoid a flood worthy of an ark. Also look into smart washers and dryers that you can monitor from your phone, so you’ll know right away if there’s a problem.

Basement

Basement

Whether your basement is a livable space or rough around the edges, keep the following in mind for overall household safety.

Flood Zones

Basements are a magnet for moisture and flooding. If you’re moving into a new neighborhood, check flood zones. That way, you’ll know if you need to take extra steps to prevent your basement from turning into an indoor swimming pool, or if you need to buy flood insurance.

Radon Detection Kits

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the soil. The scary part about radon? It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and it’s impossible to detect without equipment since it’s odorless and invisible.

You should absolutely research the area to gauge radon levels if you’re buying a home; same goes for if you’re building because you can have your developer incorporate proper ventilation and sealants to keep radon out of your house.

Already own? Don’t fret. Buy a radon detector to test for radon and hire a radon remediator if levels are higher than what’s deemed safe.

Carbon Monoxide

Anything that burns emits carbon monoxide—that includes your furnace and hot water heater. It’s important to install carbon monoxide detectors in your basement, otherwise this odorless, invisible, and poisonous gas accumulates undetected.

Storage Areas

Basements are a stockpiling station for our excess belongings. If you have shelving for storage, double check weight limits, so your stuff doesn’t come crashing down onto your kids, pets, or yourself

Flood Prevention and Remediation

Whether a pipe bursts, a storm rolls through, or a sump pump fails, your basement can become pretty soggy, pretty quick. However, there are some great preventative measures you can use to stop flooding from happening in the first place, and products and procedures to bail you out when your house floods.

Hallways

Hallways

Hallways get us from Point A to Point B, but they can do much more for home security and household safety. Here are some safety measures to consider in your hallways:

Baby and Pet Gates

Keep kids and pets out of harm’s way—and out of rooms that are off-limits—by installing gates. Depending on your needs, choose gates that span large spaces, protect kids and animals from falling down stairs, or that are aesthetically pleasing. Shop for the safest baby gates[3] based on style, function, and size to make your hallways safer and more functional for your family.

Smoke detectors

Fires are scary—and deadly. In 2014, The National Fire Protection Association reported that nearly 3,000 people died in structure fires, and 60 percent of them didn’t have smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are essential for detecting smoldering and blazing fires, and mean the difference between life and death.

Your hallways are an ideal place to install smoke detectors, and it’s recommended you place one outside of every bedroom and on every floor of your home. There are many models to choose from, but we found the best smoke detectors—some that even have home automation—to keep you, your family, your pets, and your home safe.

CO Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors can save your life. Install one on every floor in your home—including the basement and garage. Cars, gas stoves, and other appliances emit poisonous, odorless carbon monoxide gas that can knock you unconscious and kill you. To shop for some of the best carbon monoxide alarms—including smart technology and home automation devices—check out our carbon monoxide buyer’s guide.

Bedroom

Bedroom

The average American spends almost eight hours sleeping every day. Since most people slumber in their bedrooms, make sure it’s safe and sound.

Fire Escape Ladders

We spend one third of the day asleep in our bedrooms, so you have a 33 percent chance of being there when a fire breaks out. If you’re on the ground floor, you can escape through a window, but if you need to climb down from a second or third-story bedroom, a fire escape ladder can save the day. Make a fire plan and evacuation route to increase your preparedness for emergencies like these.

Window and Door Locks

As of 2011, about 14 kids in America are hospitalized every day for falls out of windows —that’s over 5,000 per year according to SafeKids.org. Unintentional falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injuries for kids. Even if you have screens in your windows, they’re not meant to bear the weight of children—or even pets. To prevent your child from falling out of an open window, shop for window locks with our comprehensive buyer’s guide.

Valuables

Jewelry, heirlooms, and other valuables are often kept in the bedroom. Instead of stashing cash and expensive baubles under the mattress, bring home a safe to keep your prized possessions secure.

Bathroom

Bathroom

The place where we clean ourselves up can be a danger zone. The CDC reports that over 230,000 people (15 years and older) visit emergency rooms every year due to injuries that happen in bathrooms—and 14 percent are admitted for prolonged hospital stays. Injuries include burns, falls, and near drowning. In order to stay safe, here’s what to look out for in the bathroom:

Flood Sensors

Catching a leaky pipe or massive burst before it becomes catastrophic will save you time, money, and a major headache. That’s where flood sensors come into play. Most are equipped with smart technology, so you get an alert on your phone if it detects water. Bathrooms are the number one source of flooding because of toilets, sinks, and showers. Here are some more tips about how you can prevent a flood in your home.

Bath Mats

Anyone is susceptible to slipping on wet surfaces, but the elderly are most at risk for serious injury based on CDC findings. The fix? A good old bathmat. Choose one that lays completely flat to avoid tripping over an upturned edge. Also lay a slip-resistant pad on the shower floor to prevent falls. The more traction you can get in the bathroom, the better.

Scald Guard

If your home doesn’t have something built into the plumbing to control water temperature, your faucets could become boiling water dispensers. Keep kids and yourself burn-free by installing scald guards on all of your home’s sinks and tubs.

Tub Safety

Child bathtime is for splashing, playing, and getting squeaky clean, but it should never be done without supervision. Children can drown in a matter of minutes in as little as two inches of standing water. So if you’re filling up the tub or letting it drain, stay in the bathroom until it’s empty.

Toilet Safety

If you have little ones, always keep the toilet seat down and secured with a toilet seat lock. They can fall in and drown if they’re small enough. Plus, a toilet is full of icky germs you definitely don’t want them touching.

Kitchen

Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, but when you break it down, it’s full of sharp knives, hot surfaces, heavy appliances, and breakables. Take a look at what everyone should consider to make their kitchens safer:

Fire Extinguishers

Even the best cook can have flare-ups; the U.S. Fire Administration says that cooking accounts for 50 percent of all house fires. Whether you leave something on the stove too long, a curtain comes too close to toaster, or a grease fire spirals out of control, it’s smart to have a fire extinguisher on-hand. Not all fire extinguishers should be used for cooking (only some have dry components to combat grease), so use our Top Fire Extinguisher Buyer’s Guide to find the best option for your home.

Kitchen Safety

Keeping pot handles turned in toward the stove, sharp knives stored properly, and flammable objects away from hot surfaces are all good places to start with kitchen safety. You can take it further by following these tips. If you’re cooking with kids, learn even more about food safety and how to maintain the wellbeing of your tiny sous chefs.

Baby Proofing

Kitchen cabinets are full of chemicals that can poison, and hinges that can pinch. To prevent kids from getting hurt in the kitchen, use a gate to keep them out, or install door and drawer locks, so kids can’t get into anything harmful.

Black Mold

Black mold is made up of lethal mycotoxin spores that can cause neurological breakdown, pulmonary decay, immune system degradation, skin irritation, and even death. Like all molds, black mold likes to grow in wet, warm places like the bathroom and basement. It’s not an option to live with black mold because of its serious side effects, so use our guide to learn more about black mold, including how to prevent, detect, and remediate it if necessary.

Pet Cams

People love their furry children! Keep an eye on yours when you’re away or at work with a smart pet cam. Some allow you to speak to your pet, release treats, and ensure the dog or cat sitter is doing a good job. Here are some of the best pet cams we’ve found that you can use to keep a better eye on Fluffy.

Pet Feeders

If you work long hours or are away for the weekend, you can still make sure your pets get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These smart pet feeders are our favorite of all models out there, and come with technology that ranges from video streaming to large and small food storage.

Outside

Outside

Once the inside of your home is optimized for safety, incorporate these outdoor tips—for a seriously secure house.

Security Cameras

If someone is creeping around your property, you’ll want to know about it. That’s why security cameras are an awesome addition to any home. Install one on the porch to monitor packages and mail deliveries, and several around the perimeter to keep an eye out for criminal activity. We’ve compared top home security cameras and found the best options out there for you to bring home. So if you’re in the market for better security, take a look.

Pool Gates and Alarms

People with pools have a big responsibility to make them safe. To abide by most laws, that includes installing a fence. If you have little kids, you might also want a pool alarm and wearable bracelets to tell you if someone is swimming or has fallen into the pool. Shop for the latest pool safety technology to keep everyone—including pets and wildlife—out of danger.

Smart Locks

Ever leave the house and forget to lock the door or can’t remember if you did? Smart locks let you lock up from an app on your smart device. If you have kids who come home from school before you do, or frequent pet or baby sitters, look into smart locks to make your life easier. Smart locks also keep a log of when doors were opened, so you can see if anything out-of-the-norm is happening at your house.

Smart Doorbells

Smart doorbells are an awesome complement to your smart locks. They function as a live streaming video with two-way communication and a surveillance camera. If someone can’t get in, you can physically see them at your house and decide whether or not to let them in. And if any criminal activity ever does happen, you’ll have it on tape. Use our product guide to choose from the best smart doorbells on today’s market.

Motion Sensor Lights

Whether you’re letting a pet outside and want to look out for skunks, or prefer to know if someone is creeping around your home at night, you can install motion sensing lights.

Pest Control

Keep rats, ants, bats, and raccoons out of your home by properly sealing your exterior. It’s much easier to deal with a problem on the outside of your home—before a pest has infiltrated your house—so read up on DIY ways you can keep creepy crawlies out.

Septic Tank

Septic tanks can cause thousands of dollars in damage if they overflow—not to mention they can become a major health hazard. To maintain your septic tank properly, only use septic-approved materials, never flush any non-biodegradable objects, and conserve water. If you need more tips to proper septic tank maintenance, learn more from the EPA.

Home Security Systems

Home Security Systems

Home security systems are a big step up from a guard dog or deadbolt. Although they vary in price, technological sophistication, and complexity, all home security systems can help keep your home safe from intruders. Here are some factors to consider when installing a home security system.

Professional vs DIY

Depending on how handy you are, you can save money by installing your home security system yourself. This is free of charge, but can be time-consuming. Some home security companies allow this, but others require professional installation to get you up and running. If budget is a concern, look for a company that lets you do it yourself.

Home Automation

Being able to let someone in, see who’s at the door, and get a fire detector alert on your phone gives you peace of mind and power. Home security systems run the gamut with products and services, but opting for high-tech home automation is the way of the future—and the way to safer living.

Monitoring

Some home security companies require you to buy 24/7 monitoring packages with your home security system. While this costs more, you do get the benefit of having someone keep an eye on your home around the clock.

Cellular Uplink vs Phone Connections

If you choose a monitored home security system, the way it connects to the service station is important. The most advanced systems use cell towers to stay in touch with response centers, while others communicate through your phone or internet connection.

The most secure option is the cellular uplink because it cannot be tampered with. Landline and internet connections on the other hand, can be disrupted by power outages, meddling, and weather.

Cost

Some home security companies require you to buy 24/7 monitoring packages with your home security system. While this costs more, you do get the benefit of having someone keep an eye on your home around the clock.

Brands

There are hundreds of home security companies out there, but not all hit the mark. SafeWise has reviewed these companies and boiled them down to the top five. You can start by reading our reviews of the top five home security companies, or narrow it down yourself by comparing other great home security companies.

When you come home at the end of the day, you just want to relax. We hope this room-by-room home safety guide will help you do that and increase your peace of mind.

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Vivint Home Security

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Packages starting at

$39.99

Vivint product

Current Deal: Get a FREE doorbell camera when you sign up for Vivint Smart Home Video!

What Sets Vivint Apart

Vivint leads the home security industry in terms of technology and home automation. With available features like a video doorbell, an automated door lock, and a smart thermostat, Vivint offers a state-of-the-art experience.

    Key Features

  • Security Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Security Cameras
  • Home Automation
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation

Order your Vivint package today.
Call 855-374-4999

About Vivint Home Security

Vivint home security serves over half a million customers. If you’re looking for the most advanced security technology on the market, Vivint may be your answer. Vivint boasts home automation and energy management features that can help you make sure the coffee pot is turned off when you leave and program your thermostat while you’re away. Vivint’s packages can get pricey, but they offer some impressive high-end packages, complete with 100% wireless components and leading home automation features.

Complete Home Automation

With every Vivint security package, you get alerts through emails or text messages. If any motion is detected while your system is armed, you’ll know about it. With the Smart Control package, you get the whole kit and caboodle. You can also control your thermostat, small appliances, and locks from any web-enabled device, no matter your location plus 1TB of cloud storage. Whether you want to turn on a lamp or make sure the coffee maker is turned off, you can do both from across town or across the country with Vivint Control.

About Vivint

Energy Management

With the Smart Control package, you can remotely control your thermostat, lamps, and small appliances from any web-enabled device. Whether you want to turn off the curling iron or turn down the thermostat while you’re not home, you can do so from your smartphone. In addition, Vivint also offers solar panel installation for customers looking to go green and lower electricity bills even more.

Completely Wireless

All the parts of a Vivint home security system communicate wirelessly, and the system communicates with a monitoring center via a cellular uplink. This means the entire alarm system is 100% wireless, no phone line necessary. Vivint offers a touchscreen panel with every package. This control panel is the hub of your system, and it includes an LCD screen and remote access capabilities.

Security Cameras

Vivint’s streaming video allows you to watch real-time camera footage or recorded clips of your home from any location. Just pull out your smartphone or other web-enabled device to check up on your home and see camera footage. If you’re home and don’t wish to record, simply use Privacy Mode on your camera to disable remote viewing and recording, or turn it off completely.

See how stacks up. View SafeWise’s best security systems review

Vivint Home Security Equipment

  • vivint Logo

    $699

    Navigate the user-friendly LCD touchscreen to control your security system. It includes 2-way voice communication, so you can speak directly to a monitoring center representative in an emergency.

    Vivint SkyControl Panel

  • vivint Logo

    $70

    This detector alerts you of the odorless, tasteless, colorless, toxic gas before it can harm your family.

    Carbon Monoxide Detector

  • vivint Logo

    $100

    This smoke alarm detects smoke particles as well as heat. It will alert Vivint professions to check on you and notify local fire authorities if necessary, all in less than a minute.

    Smoke Alarm

  • vivint Logo

    $50

    A door or window sensor lets you know the moment someone tries to open an entry point to your home.

    Door/Window Sensor

  • vivint Logo

    $100

    If any windows are broken in your home, you’ll know about it. With a 360 degree sensing angle, the glass break detector will even work in areas with several large windows.

    Glass Break Detector

  • vivint Logo

    $35

    Arm or disarm your system, press a panic button, and open or close your garage door from up to 100 feet away.

    Key Fob

  • vivint Logo

    $199

    Watch live-streaming video footage or recorded clips from any web-enabled device or smartphone. It’s like you never left home.

    Fixed Video Camera

  • vivint Logo

    $50

    Control a range of household devices, from curling irons to coffee pots, and instantly know if you accidentally left them on. You can also turn on your lights before you get home.

    Lighting/Small Appliance Control

  • vivint Logo

    $159

    Unlock and lock your doors from anywhere. Skip making copies of keys—when you need to unlock your door remotely, just pull out your smartphone or other web-enabled device.

    Electronic Door Locks

  • vivint Logo

    $199

    With a pan and tilt camera, you can view a large area of your home and watch live surveillance footage or recorded clips with a smartphone or any web-enabled device.

    Pan and Tilt Video Camera

  • vivint Logo

    $169

    Remotely control the temperature of your home from a smartphone or any web-enabled device. With 7-day programming, you can even set different temperatures for certain times of day.

    Smart Thermostat

Pricing listed requires a 3 year monitoring agreement. Prices subject to change.

Why Choose Vivint Home Security? The Bottom Line

  • Email and text alerts with every package
  • Every system completely wireless
  • Home automation and energy management features
Why Choose Vivint Home Security

Order your Vivint package today.
Call 855-374-4999

Vivint FAQs

How Much Does Vivint Cost?

Vivint’s Smart Home Security package starts at $39.99 per month and includes 24/7 monitoring, customizable equipment options, remote access to your security system, and automation features.

Vivint’s Smart Home with Video starts at $49.99 per month and includes everything the Smart Home Security package has plus video monitoring options.

How Does Vivint’s Security System Work?

Vivint’s security system works in three simple steps. Once a sensor is triggered, your control panel will set off an alarm. The alarm will then signal the monitoring center, and you’ll receive a call to verify the emergency.

Does Vivint Integrate with Other Smart Home Platforms and Devices?

Yes, Vivint integrates with Nest and Amazon Echo. With Amazon Echo, you can use voice commands to lock your doors, turn off your lights, adjust the temperature, and arm your security system. And with the Nest integration, not only can you adjust the temperature from your mobile app, but also the thermostat knows when you’re away and adjusts accordingly to save you money.

Do I Need a Landline Phone to Use Vivint’s System?

No, you won’t need a landline to use Vivint’s home security system. Vivint uses a wireless connection to communicate with its monitoring centers.

Vivint Home Security Reviews

Rated 4/5 based on 2503 customer reviews**

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10

The best

Otaniel M. from Johnston , RI | September 10, 2018
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Peace Of Mind Away From Home

My family and I frequently spend long stretches of time away from home. Last summer, Vivint notified us of a break-in during one such absence. When I think of what could have happened without Vivint, I am so thankful for the peace of mind knowing our home is protected. Thanks, Vivint!

Nelda F. from Las Vegas, NV | September 06, 2018
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Excellent Service

Great customer services

Paulette H. from Upper Marlboro , MD | September 06, 2018
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SafeWise Recommended Brands

  • Frontpoint
  • ADT
  • Link Interactive
  • Protect America
  • Vivint
  • Scout
  • Monitronics
  • SimpliSafe
  • Lifeshield

# Frontpoint

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

# LifeShield

3.5/5 |

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

# Protect America

4.5/5 | Reviews

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

# Link Interactive

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

# Monitronics Security

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

# SimpliSafe

4.5/5 | Reviews

System Features

  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Indoor Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • Professional Installation
  • Home Automation

Lifestyles

  • Working Professionals
  • Travelers
  • Energy Conscious
  • Parents
  • Elderly
  • Pet Owners

Security Options For Renters and Owners

Should you invest in a home security system?
That depends a lot on whether you rent or own your property.

Renters

Landlords tally up every nail hole and scuff when you move out and charge you for damages. That’s what makes this type of living situation kind of tricky for home security installations. While it’s important that you and your belongings stay safe, you’ll want to request permission before you start putting anything too permanent in your rental. Or, you can choose options that are minimally invasive like standalone cameras.

You can also do yourself a favor by scouting out a rental that is already very secure. Check for a property that has a locked front door, so that non-residents can’t enter the building without consent. Make sure it’s in a well-lit area and has a secure deadbolt on your unit too. All of these things can help enhance your security.

Owners

The joy of owning lies in the fact that you can do anything to your property that you want. If you would like to install a full home security system, you can drill into walls, wire cameras to every corner of your home, and even install a mote if you see fit. While you’ll want to be considerate of your neighbors if you’re installing bright motion lights, everything else should ultimately be left up to your discretion and budget.

How to Choose Between Professional Vs DIY Installations

How handy are you? Do you feel comfortable running the electrical for your own security system or climbing a ladder? Those are a couple great questions to ask yourself before deciding on a professional or DIY install. Here is some more information to help you pick.

Professional Installation

Some security companies require their products to be installed by a certified professional. While it’s a bit more expensive than a DIY option, you’ll be rewarded with convenience and peace of mind that the job has been done right. Plus, before the installation professional packs up for the day, he or she can also show you how to properly use your new security system and make sure everything’s running smoothly. Do keep in mind though that you might be a little inconvenienced for the appointment since you’ll need to be home during installation.

DIY Installation

Doing it yourself is a great way to save money on your home security system if you don’t mind following directions in one of two ways:

Voice Recording: With a voice recording, or electronic prompt, you can expect to be walked through the installation process by a robotic set of directions. This will have been pre-recorded by the security company you purchased your equipment from, so it should be thorough, but it won’t put you in contact with a person directly.

Calling a Representative: Calling a representative on the phone will be similar to an electronic prompt, but you’ll have the benefit of speaking to an actual human. If you have questions, you can get more detailed answers so you can ensure you’re installing your system correctly.

The one concern with DIY installs is that they take more of your personal time (about 30-40 minutes) and you might not be sure you set it up right. A security system is meant to make you feel safe and sound, so go with the option you feel confident about.

Features You Can Add To Your Home Security System

Keep it bare bones or go all out with your home security system—it’s up to you! Here are some options that you can lump into your package for added protection.

Mobile Access

With mobile access, you can use your smartphone or any device that’s connected to the web to control your security system. This feature doesn’t come standard, but most companies offer the option to add it and will have varying degrees of interactivity. For some, it’s just letting you arm and disarm your security system from afar. For others, it’s additional home automation like temperature control, locking doors, controlling lighting, and viewing live camera streams. What’s the right amount of connectivity you need? Figure that out and you’ll be ready to add proper coverage to ease your worries.

100% Wireless

Some companies have equipment that operates completely wirelessly through cellular uplink or internet connection. This allows for an easier installation process, transportable systems, and less wires that could potentially be cut by intruders.

24/7 Monitoring

This type of service is like a babysitter for your home. Albeit, an expensive one. You can buy this kind of coverage if you’d like to be connected to your security company directly and reach them immediately if there is an emergency.

Cellular

This is the gold standard in the security industry and the most advanced to date. Using cell towers, you won’t have to worry about shaky internet speed or connection or landlines being cut. It’s the most expensive option, but the best one out there if you live somewhere with good cell reception.

Landline

In the case of a security breach, your system will call the monitoring center for help through your phone line. This is usually the cheapest version of home monitoring, but it isn’t the most secure. If your phone lines are accessible, trespassers could cut them and render your system useless during a crisis.

Professional Installation

Like we mentioned above, you’ll need to decide if you’re comfortable setting up your own security system or need a professional’s help. Most companies offer professional installation at an added cost, but a lot of benefits. You’ll be able to trust in his or her skills, feel confident that the installation was done correctly, and ask questions about how to operate your devices while they’re at your home.

Home Automation

Home automation is as good as having a magic wand. Some companies will enable you to lock doors, control lights, adjust the thermostat, or even turn small appliances on or off from your smartphone or connected device. It’s a way to keep ultimate control over your house while you’re away and make sure it’s ready for you when you come home.

Broadband

Instead of using a phone line, this service communicates through your internet connection to contact a monitoring center. It’s faster and middle of the road in price, but it’s only as reliable as your internet connection.

Indoor Cameras

You can choose from a variety of models when it comes to indoor cameras. Pick one that tilts and scans a room, is stationary, or has a wide angle lens. With indoor cameras, you’ll be able to see what’s happening at your home when you’re not there. You’ll most likely have to pay more for monitoring services if you install indoor cameras, but if it’s a safety priority for you, then it should be worth it.

Security Terminology

If you’re new to buying a home security system, you may have come across some unfamiliar terminology on security websites, or even right here on SafeWise.com. Here’s a glossary of security terms that we hope will help alleviate any confusion.

Working Professionals

These companies have mobile apps and mobile alerts that can keep you in-the-know while you’re at the office.

Energy Conscious

Keep your energy usage in check with tools that support remote thermostat and lighting adjustments.

Elderly

You can get personalized pendants to wear from these companies in case you fall or are hurt and can’t reach the phone.

Travelers

Ideal for those who are away from home often, these companies support mobile apps and alerts to keep you informed and 24/7 monitoring plans.

Parents

Check in on your kids with live video streaming from a mobile app.

Pet Owners

Those who own pets should know that these companies offer motion sensors that can distinguish pets, so your alarm won’t go off because Fluffy jumps on the bed.

 

Scout Reviews

Safewise Endorsed

Reviews from Scout Customers

Scout is a flexible home-security option for both homeowners and renters because of its wireless equipment, tool-free setup, and adjustable contract. By building your own system with Scout, you’ll ultimately have more control over how much protection your home needs from the amount of equipment you purchase to choosing the type of monitoring that best suits your life.
Packages starting at

$9.99/mo

Scout Is Easy And Reliable

 
I like that I was able to customize my security package to meet my needs with Scout. With Scout I was able to select the components I need, the finish I wanted and the level of support I want. I like how easy it is to check in from any smart device to monitor my homes security while away. Being able to arm and disarm remotely is a big advantage, no more wasted trips home just to check when I can do it remotely. Having had the police come to my home for false alarms with a previous system, I got the warning that I could be charged a fine if it happened again, with Scout I do not have to worry since I can quickly decide if dispatch is needed. No contracts so I am free to make changes as I need or want to. Love Scout!
Vera P. from Plant City, FL | August 31, 2016
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**In certain cases, customers are incentivized to leave a customer review. Specifically, those customers who leave an applicable and honest review of Scout will be eligible to be entered into a contest to win a $500 gift card to The Home Depot. There will be one winner for each one hundred qualified review submitted.
 

 

SimpliSafe

Safewise Endorsed
 
SimpliSafe logo
Packages starting at

$229

SimpliSafe product

What Sets SimpliSafe Apart

SimpliSafe offers some of the lowest monthly pricing on the market for monitored service. And if you only want professional monitoring for the month that you’re on vacation, you can add and cancel at any time—with no penalties.

Key Features

  • Security Monitoring
  • Mobile Access
  • Security Cameras
  • 100% Wireless
  • DIY Installation

Order your SimpliSafe package today. View Packages

SimpliSafe Prices & Packages

Insider Tip: Purchasing monthly monitoring is optional with SimpliSafe, so keep in mind that you don’t have to pay for service if all you want is a security system.

The Foundation

$229

 
+ Monitoring
 
  • Optional Standard Monitoring ($14.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Free, built-in cellular connection
  • Optional Interactive Monitoring ($24.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Mobile app control
  • Text/email alerts
  • Remote system control
  • Equipment
  • Base station
  • Keypad
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 1 Entry sensors

The Essentials

$259

 
+ Monitoring
 
  • Optional Standard Monitoring ($14.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Free, built-in cellular connection
  • Optional Interactive Monitoring ($24.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Mobile app control
  • Text/email alerts
  • Remote system control
  • Equipment
  • Base station
  • Keypad
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 3 Entry sensors

The Hearth

$374

 
+ Monitoring
 
  • Optional Standard Monitoring ($14.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Free, built-in cellular connection
  • Optional Interactive Monitoring ($24.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Mobile app control
  • Text/email alerts
  • Remote system control
  • Equipment
  • Base station
  • Keypad
  • 1 Motion sensor
  • 3 Entry sensors
  • Key fob
  • 105db siren
  • Smoke detector

The Knox

$449

 
+ Monitoring
 
  • Optional Standard Monitoring ($14.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Free, built-in cellular connection
  • Optional Interactive Monitoring ($24.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Mobile app control
  • Text/email alerts
  • Remote system control
  • Equipment
  • Base station
  • Keypad
  • 2 Motion sensors
  • 6 Entry sensors
  • Key fob
  • 105db siren
  • Smoke detector

The Haven

$489

 
+ Monitoring
 
  • Optional Standard Monitoring ($14.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Free, built-in cellular connection
  • Optional Interactive Monitoring ($24.99/month)
  • 24/7 monitoring service
  • Mobile app control
  • Text/email alerts
  • Remote system control
  • Equipment
  • Base station
  • Keypad
  • 2 Motion sensors
  • 4 Entry sensors
  • Key fob
  • 105dB siren
  • Smoke detector
  • Panic button
  • Freeze sensor
  • Water sensor

Order your SimpliSafe package today. View Packages

About SimpliSafe

Mobile Access

With the Standard monitoring package, you get 24/7 professional monitoring that includes alarms if the system detects anything suspicious and environmental monitoring. Although SimpliSafe doesn’t offer as many features as a home automation system, it’s  great for those interested in no-frills security.

SimpliSafe’s Philosophy

SimpliSafe’s philosophy is clear. The company boldly claims: “There’s something wrong with the security system industry… and SimpliSafe is on a mission to fix it.” As such, SimpliSafe doesn’t have any salespeople in an effort to avoid pressuring people into buying its services. Plus, SimpliSafe doesn’t have any contracts, unlike other companies, which often have contracts full of what SimpliSafe calls, “nasty fine print.”

No Contract

It’s true: the main difference between SimpliSafe and other companies is that there’s no contract. As implied by its name, SimpliSafe’s model and prices are indeed simple and straightforward. You buy your security system, you install it yourself, and you own it (and can therefore take it with you if you move), free of any contract or minimum service agreement.

New or Used Wireless Systems

Choose between several 100% wireless security systems that use a cellular uplink to communicate with a monitoring center (no phone line necessary). SimpliSafe also offers refurbished (used) security systems at reduced prices.

Total Customization

Customize your system by selecting the equipment you need, then choosing your monitoring package: Standard or Interactive.

Guarantees

If you are unsatisfied with any system from SimpliSafe, simply return it within 60 days for a full refund. SimpliSafe also offers a product warranty for three years from the time of purchase. So, if anything goes wrong with the equipment within three years, SimpliSafe will fix or replace it—even used systems.
About SimpliSafe See how stacks up. View SafeWise’s best security systems review

SimpliSafe Equipment

  • simplisafe Logo

    Call for Details

    The base sensor is the brain of your security system, and it contacts the monitoring center in an emergency. It’s separate from the keypad, so if your keypad is smashed, your security system can still reach the monitoring center.
    Base Station
  • simplisafe Logo

    $14.99

    Place entry sensors at your windows and doors to let you know if an intruder tries to get in.
    Entry Sensor
  • simplisafe Logo

    $29.99

    A motion sensor can detect motion up to 30 feet away.
    Motion Sensor
  • simplisafe Logo

    $19.99

    Press the panic button to instantly trigger your alarm—even silently if you don’t want to alert the intruder.
    Panic Button
  • simplisafe Logo

    $29.99

    A freeze sensor will notify you if temperatures in your home drop dangerously low, so you can make adjustments before your pipes freeze.
    Temperature Sensor
  • simplisafe Logo

    $59.99

    A siren will alert the neighbors that your security system has been tripped, and let an intruder know that your home is protected.
    Siren
  • simplisafe Logo

    $69.99

    A keypad allows you to control your security system. Because a separate base station actually notifies the monitoring center of an intruder, the monitoring center will still be alerted if an intruder smashes the keypad.
    Keypad
  • simplisafe Logo

    $24.99

    Arm or disarm your system with the push of a button for this keychain remote.
    Key Fob
  • simplisafe Logo

    $19.99

    This sensor will trigger when it comes in contact with water, notifying you before water damages cost you a bundle.
    Wireless Water Sensor
Pricing listed requires a 3 year monitoring agreement. Prices subject to change.

Why Choose SimpliSafe? The Bottom Line

  • Built-in cellular monitoring
  • Customizable equipment packages
  • No contracts
  • 60-day, risk-free trial
Why Choose SimpliSafe

Order your SimpliSafe package today. View Packages

SimpliSafe Reviews

Rated 4.5/5 based on 25 customer reviews**

View all Reviews

Had Several Others, Simplisafe Is Best Yet

 
Have had several other systems over past 15 years between office and home including ADT (expensive, staff not helpful), Computerized Security (pathetic service, constant problems) and a few other independent’s. Simplisafe by far is the best, less expensive, better service.
Steve A. from Foley, AL | June 05, 2018
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Both Happy And Unhappy

 
If you do not get the monitoring the camera and use of your smart phone will not work with the system.
Mike H. from Benson, AZ | January 26, 2017
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Feel Safe

 
I feel so much safer with my SimpliSafe system. I have had ADT and had numerous problems with the equipment. SimpliSafe answers my questions, are always courteous, and does not try to pressure me into buying something I do not want. Their cost is less than other services I have looked into.
Sheila V. from Pineville, LA | January 03, 2017
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**In certain cases, customers are incentivized to leave a customer review. Specifically, those customers who leave an applicable and honest review of SimpliSafe will be eligible to be entered into a contest to win a $500 gift card to The Home Depot. There will be one winner for each one hundred qualified review submitted.

Already a SimpliSafe customer?

Leave a review & enter to win $500 in The Home Depot spending cash from SafeWise!

Leave a Review

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