Home Security Quiz & Checklist
Getting to know your home’s state of security will help you find ways to better secure yourself and your family. That’s why we’ve created this quiz. Answering the questions below will give you an honest assessment of how secure your home really is against burglars and other threats. But this quiz is just the beginning, so be sure to read our guide to home security systems, our top security camera roundup, and our best security system recommendations.
Use this checklist to help you find opportunities to better protect your home. Once you’re done we’ll score your home and make recommendations to you.
Are some of your lights on timers?
In most cases, you turn lights on as you enter rooms and turn them off as you leave. But timed lights can play an important rule in home security. Exterior lights on timers will make sure that you never forget to illuminate your space, while both interior and exterior lights on timers can create the illusion that you are at home even when you’re out (especially if you stagger the times a bit for a more organic feel).
Are points of entry well-lit at night?
It’s easier to break into a home under cover of darkness. But if you keep your doorways well-lit, any sketchy activity will be more clearly visible to neighbors and passersby. You should also consider the lighting around your outdoor pathways, near windows, and anywhere else where crooks might approach, hide, or attempt a break-in.
Do you have outdoor lighting pointed at your exterior walls?
Don’t let criminals get close enough to your house to break in without being seen. In addition to lighting up obvious points of entry and outdoor pathways, be sure to light up walls that crooks may sneak along or climb.
Do you have outdoor lights with motion sensors?
Motion-sensor lights are convenient because they’ll automatically light your way as you walk by. But they serve another purpose, too: when they light up, you’ll know that something — or someone — set them off. They can be a valuable early warning system and can scare off would-be home invaders.
Do your neighbors know your contact information in case they see anything out of the ordinary around your house?
Your trusted neighbors can become important allies in keeping crime away from your home and neighborhood. If they know your contact information (and you know theirs), you’ll be able to watch each others’ backs and inform one another if anything looks amiss. The better you know your neighbors, the more likely they’ll be able to let you or the authorities know if they see or hear anything suspicious.
Does your neighborhood have a formal neighborhood watch program?
Neighbors can be important allies in protecting each others’ homes. A neighborhood watch program helps to formalize that relationship and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. If there’s no neighborhood watch program protecting your street, maybe you should start one!
Has your neighborhood had any break-ins lately?
If your neighbors have suffered a break-in, you should be extra vigilant. For various reasons, including geographic convenience or similarities in home layouts and security systems, thieves may target different houses in the same neighborhood for repeated crimes. If your neighbors were stolen from, you could be next!
Is your neighborhood well-lit with street lamps?
Streetlights and even other homes’ lights can help illuminate your space and potential paths of approach. If the street and the neighborhood are not well-lit at night, you’ll want to be especially vigilant about protecting your own space and lighting up the areas that you have control over.
Do you have signs warning crooks that your house is monitored?
A security system will alert you and the authorities when someone tries to break in. But if you can turn back would-be intruders before they attempt a break-in, that’s even better. So make use of those yard signs and window decals. Crooks might just decide that your home isn’t worth the trouble.
Do you have a large dog?
While pet ownership is not for everybody, having a large dog can be great for your home security. You don’t need to train them to attack intruders — in fact, we don’t recommend doing so — but in general, thieves and criminals tend to stay away from homes with large dogs. A “Beware of Dogs” sign may also help.
Do you have a peephole or video doorbell at your front door?
Someone’s at your door. But who? Can you take a look without opening the door? If you can use a peephole, nearby windows, or — best of all — a smart doorbell camera to double-check, then you’ll be a whole lot safer at home.
Do you have deadbolt locks on all points of entry?
Regular door knob locks are nice, but they’re barely going to slow down an experienced lockpicker. If you really want your space to be secure, you need to have — and use — deadbolt locks. Get ones with keyholes on the outside, so that you can use your deadbolt locks even when you’re away from home.
Do you use door jammers, braces, or security bars to lock your doors at night?
Kicking in doors is not just an action movie thing; it happens in real life. And worse, wooden doors are actually easier to kick in than most people think. Fortifying your doors with door jammers, braces, or security bars can help keep violent intruders out.
Do your doors fit snugly in your door frames?
Criminals can force doors open much more easily if there are gaps between the doors and their frames. Making sure that your doors are fitted properly in their frames can discourage would-be home invaders who hope to use a crowbar or other tool to pry open your door.
Do you leave a spare key outside your home?
Nobody likes getting locked out of their own home. But a house key under a planter or — even worse — underneath your welcome mat is an invitation to home invaders. Crooks are plenty familiar with these and even less obvious hiding places. Here’s a better idea: use an outdoor key safe that only you can access.
Do you secure sliding glass doors with more than just one lock?
Sliding glass doors are attractive and convenient, but they’re not the most secure spaces in your home. Don’t rely on their basic default locks! Add another more reliable lock, or fit a dowel into the track on the inside to block the door (or, better yet, do both).
Do you have fire extinguishers?
Keeping your home safe isn’t just about stopping home invaders. Other disasters, such as fires, can be just as dangerous and just as devastating. Keeping a fire extinguisher around can help you stop fires in their tracks. Depending on the size of your home, you may want a few fire extinguishers in key locations. And don’t forget to test them periodically and make sure that they are in working order!
Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
A smoke detector system, especially one that is connected to a monitoring service, can protect your home from the devastation of a fire. And don’t forget about deadly carbon monoxide: it’s odorless, which makes it all but impossible to detect without a proper detection device and system.
In case of fire, are emergency exits easily accessible?
Sometimes we get too focused on keeping burglars out that we forget to make emergency exits easily accessible during an emergency like a fire or natural disaster. Having an emergency route is also part of keeping your home a safe place to live in, so keep emergency exits free of obstructions.
In case of emergencies, can first responders easily gain access to your home?
Giving medical and fire personnel easy access to your home in an emergency can minimize damage costs and save lives. You’ll want to make sure your house number is visible from the street so that emergency responders can easily find your address. It’s also smart to keep a spare key in an outdoor key safe that responders can easily access and unlock.
Do you have a hiding place for packages delivered when you’re away?
Packages left out in the open may invite porch pirates and package thieves; plus, they are an indication that there’s no one home. If it’s normal for you to have packages delivered while you’re away, designate a hiding place not visible to passersby, and don’t forget to inform your delivery service providers.
Can passersby or neighbors see into your home through windows?
Doors and windows are potential access points for crooks. How easily can they size up your property’s points of entry? You should also keep in mind that windows can be seen into as well as out of. Be aware of potential prying eyes as you walk around or position valuables within your home!
Can passersby see any of your valuables from the street?
Crooks don’t break into homes for no reason — usually, they’re after valuable things to steal. If they can see valuable stuff through your windows without even stepping onto your property, then you’re taking too much guesswork out of the equation for exactly the wrong sorts of people.
Do you lock up outdoor valuables and tools?
Your home security system and deadbolts won’t do much to protect the valuable stuff that you leave outside of your home. Don’t let any crooks wheel your grill away or take off with your bicycle. Secure your outdoor valuables with locks, especially at night and when you’re out of town.
Are your valuables stashed in a safe?
If your home is invaded by a thief, he or she will attempt to grab as many valuable things as they can as quickly as possible. The damage that a home invasion can do will depend in part on how you protect your valuables within your home. Protecting your most important things in a safe will give them a much better chance of being spared in a break-in and theft.
Do you lock up your home every night?
Home invaders prefer to operate at night, when homeowners are less alert and when illegal activities are less visible to neighbors and other potential observers. That’s why it’s particularly important to keep your space locked up at night, even — and perhaps especially — when you are home.
Do you lock up your home each and every time that you leave the house?
Think carefully. Sure, you lock your place up when you go on vacation — but what about when you pop around the corner to the pharmacy? What about when you go out to do yard work for a few minutes, and end up distracted and chatting with a neighbor? Crooks don’t need much time to break in, and you won’t always be “right back” as planned. Always, always lock up!
Are security cameras monitoring your space?
Indoor and outdoor security cameras can help you spot intruders and other problems before they can hurt you or violate your space. Doorbell cameras can help you size up visitors before you open the door. And many modern surveillance devices can be connected to security systems and broader smart home setups.
Do you have a home security system with 24/7 monitoring?
The most important thing that you can do to protect your home is to invest in a security system. Make sure that you subscribe to a monitoring service, too — a security system and alarm won’t do much good unless they’re connected to a service that will alert the authorities when a break-in occurs.