a home safety checklist for California homeowners

Keep Your Home Safe With This Checklist

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or lived there for years, safety is always of utmost importance. Use this checklist for regular home inspections to ensure everything’s shipshape always.

  • Change Window & Door Locks – If you just moved in, were robbed, lost your keys, or you want to limit who has access to your home, consider changing the locks. Smart locks allow you to manage access from your smartphone from wherever you are. Otherwise, ensure you have good quality deadbolts on all doors.
  • Locate Electrical Meter & Breaker Box – If you don’t know where these are, you should. Learn how to switch off the electricity and mark all the breakers so you know which controls what.
  • Locate Water Shut-Off Valve – You need to know where it is and how to shut off the water when you’re away or there’s an emergency. Try the valve to ensure it works properly. You may want to install a water alarm to alert you if there’s a problem.
  • Inspect Pipes – Check for corrosion, leaks, and weak connections. Water damage is very costly to correct and can lead to mold and mildew issues.
  • Change Filters & Clean Air Ducts – Clean filters ensure your HVAC equipment works at peak efficiency and the filters remove harmful contaminants. Clean the heating ducts in your home annually and do not block airflow from registers.
  • Inspect Furnace & Air Conditioner – Have a professional inspect your furnace and air conditioner to ensure its in good working order.
  • Test Smoke & CO2 Detectors & Change Batteries – The U.S. Fire Administration recommends monthly tests and battery changes at least once or twice annually. The useful life of detectors is typically 10 years, so replace old units.
  • Secure Dangerous Chemicals – Store cleaning supplies, garden chemicals, solvents, and fuel for gas-powered equipment in locked cabinets away from possible ignition sources. Recycle unwanted items as soon as possible.
  • Check Extension Cords – Check for frayed wires and loose connectors. Replace or repair as needed. Never run extension cords under rugs or across doorways.
  • Check Electrical Devices – Replace outdated appliances and repair any device with a worn or frayed cord.
  • Review Electrical Outlets – Ensure outlets aren’t overloaded with cords. Use power strips with surge protection on equipment susceptible to damage. Only plug in one high-wattage appliance in each outlet.
  • Clean dryer vent – Clean the dryer vent annually to reduce fire risk.
  • Clean & Inspect Chimney, Fireplace, or Wood Stove – Hire a professional to inspect and clean the chimney and wood burning devices annually.
  • Inspect Fire Extinguishers – Ensure you have fully-charged fire extinguishers. Replace as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Review Emergency Plan – Perform at least two fire escape practices annually and review important information such as alternate escape routes and a meeting place during a disaster.
  • Advertise the Security System – Add stickers to windows indicating you have a wireless alarm system, even if you don’t have one. If you don’t have one, consider adding a video camera and motion detector lights.
  • Tend to the Yard – Trim shrubs and trees so they do not block the view to your home to discourage burglars.
  • Check the Garage – Install a good deadbolt between the garage and your home and do not leave remotes in vehicles when you’re vacationing.
  • Secure Patio Door – Add a metal bar or dowel so the door can’t be opened easily.
  • Get a Roof Inspection – A faulty roof can cause extensive damage. Most roofing contractors offer inspections and gutter cleaning for a reasonable cost.
  • Care for Home While Vacationing – Ensure someone cuts your lawn and picks up your mail while you’re away. Entrust a friend with a key to your home and your car. Leave your home as it would be if you were there.
  • Check Insurance Coverage – An annual review of your homeowner’s insurance policy ensures your insurance meets your current needs. Don’t renew automatically without discussing your coverage with your agent or broker, otherwise you might find you’re poorly covered when you need assistance the most.

This checklist is just a good starting point for home safety. You probably have other items you’ll want to add, but the more often you inspect your home the less likely you are to experience problems.