Make Your New Place Safe | 10 Things to Do

Moving into a new place (especially it's all yours – no roomies) can be exciting and liberating. But it can also be a bit daunting. A different apartment in an unfamiliar neighborhood or even town can feel intimidating. That's why before you even pick up a paint brush or dress up the sofa with pillows, you should take a few steps to make your new place safe. Here's how to get peace of mind in your new digs:

1. Lock Windows & Doors
Check to see that all your windows and exterior doors lock properly. Your entry door should ideally have a deadbolt. If any locks are out of wack or missing, this is something to discuss with your landlord pronto. If you're extra wary about the neighborhood, ask about adding additional locks. Another extra precaution is to put bars on the windows – though aesthetically, it looks a bit prison cell-like. You could also have thick wooden dowels cut down to fit your windows. Placed above the sash, an intruder won't be able to pry the window open. (Plus, you could paint them to match your window trim or just a fun color.)

2. Install Blinds, Curtains, & Privacy Film
Especially if you're on the first floor, cover up your windows! And when you're not home, make sure the blinds and curtains are closed. Just like you wouldn't want a window peeper peeking in at you, you don't want them peeking in at your stuff while you're not home. On windows in the bathroom, consider putting up a privacy film. It will let light in without letting prying eyes in.

3. Consider Security Alarms
A full-fledged security system with monitoring is most likely out of the typical renters' budget. But simple security alarms are not. From door alarms to alarms that detect if glass is broken or tampered with, you can find options for many budgets at places like Lowes, Home Depot, Target, and even dollar stores. 

4. Get Renters' Insurance
Should the worst case scenario happen, you'll be happy you purchased a renters' insurance policy. It's easy to go online, get a quote, and purchase it right then. You might be able to save by bundling it with your auto insurance, but compare prices anyway.

5. Maintain Fire & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When you move in, replace the batteries in this life-saving alarms. (Unless the landlord has done that for you.) Test them and be sure to put new batteries in them twice a year (daylight savings times) or when they start indicating a low battery.

6. Have a Fire Escape / Storm Safety Plan
Before you arrange any furniture, take a walk around your apartment and consider what you would do in the event of a fire, tornado, or other natural disasters that happen in your region. Don't block the window that leads to your fire escape with a big dresser or desk – it will just pose as an obstacle if you need to get out. If the window is higher up on the wall and you might have difficulty climbing out, put a chair next to it. Have a clear safety plan in mind should you ever need to evacuate or take cover. 

7. Keep a Flashlight Handy
Actually, keep a few. Power outages don't announce themselves and fumbling around in the dark for a candle and lighter is not ideal. Store a few flashlights throughout your apartment – one in your nightstand, one in the kitchen junk drawer, one under the bathroom cabinet. 

8. Locate the Electrical Breaker & Water Main
It's good to know where these things are located even if you're not sure what to do with them. Ask your landlord to show you where they are and how to use them in certain scenarios. You might have to flip a switch on the breaker to get power back. Or you might have to turn off the water main if the pipes burst and start flooding.

9. Use Motion Sensor Outdoor Security Lights
It looks and feels nice to leave a porch light on. It illuminates your path if you're coming and going at night. It deters ill-doers who don't want to be caught in the light for neighbors to see. And it just looks cozy and homey. However, leaving a light on all night isn't green and will add up on your electrical bill. Instead, install a motion sensor, solar powered, or timer light.

10. Know Thy Neighbors
Sometimes it's all to easy to just go about our own individual lives, coming and going from home to work to errands and home again. When you have a chance, get to know the people who live around you. Stop and take some time to talk to them. The couple next door, the girl upstairs, the family across street. You don't want to immediately entrust anyone to your place, but in time you might discover that the family across the street will tell you about a suspicious person snooping around your front door or the girl upstairs will let you know she saw something strange. There could be someone who will look out for you – and who you can look out for, too. But you'll never have each others' backs if you never say hello.

Anything I missed? Anything you'd like to add?

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