Back to top

SafeWise is an independent review site. We may earn money when you click on links on our site. Learn more.

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

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.

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 [LINK]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.

Brand LogoBrand LogoBrand LogoBrand LogoBrand Logo

See our Top 5 Home Security Provider Picks

View providers

Find Your Perfect Home Security System