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Nighttime Safety Checklist

Your home is your sanctuary: There's no better place to relax after a long day and curl up for a good night's sleep. But overlooking nighttime safety basics could leave your home unprotected.

Before you settle in for the night, run through this helpful safety checklist:

Mother on the couch reading to her son.

Check door and window locks. Be sure all exterior doors are locked, including the front door, any doors to patios or decks, as well as the door to the garage. If your garage doors were open during the day, check to be sure they are closed. If you opened windows earlier, confirm the windows are closed and locked. If you have sliding doors, install a wooden dowel or security bar to fit into the track when your sliding door is closed. This adds extra protection if the lock is picked or the glass is broken.

Be cautious when a stranger is at the front door late a night. According to the FBI, one in three burglars enters through the front door, either because the door is left unlocked or it's easy to pick the lock and enter. Burglars may even ring the doorbell or knock on the front door to see if anyone is home. If you answer, they may give an excuse about being lost or mixing up your home address. Worse, there could be an accomplice hiding just out of sight, and together, they may overpower you to enter your home. While this type of scenario is rare, it's still worth being extra cautious should a stranger appear at your front door. When in doubt about a stranger at your door, contact the police.

Leave an interior light on. Leaving a light on in a guest bedroom or living space gives the appearance that someone is still awake in the house, which may deter burglars. Having a light on also makes it more difficult for an intruder to remain unseen once they enter the house. Consider using motion sensing security lights around all exterior doors, including back doors and the garage.

Unplug appliances and confirm the stove is off. Reduce the risk of accidental fire by confirming your kitchen is shut down for the evening. Unplug small appliances, like a toaster, and check that the stove and oven are off.

Keep sleeping areas safe. Electric blankets, overloaded sockets, and space heaters can be hazards in your bedroom. Avoid overloading sockets or power strips with too many plugs and only use electric blankets with an automatic shut-off feature. Candles may give your bedroom a cozy ambiance, but they are also a fire hazard. Keep open flames away from curtains and bedding, never leave an open flame unattended, and blow out any candles before going to sleep.

Improve bedroom security. Keep your phone near your bedside and fully charged at night. Should you suspect someone has entered your house, immediate phone access can save precious seconds when dialing 911. You may also wish to lock your bedroom door or use a solid core door, which is more difficult to break through, giving you extra time to call for help.

Install a home security system. If you don't have one already, consider installing one to deter burglars and improve nighttime safety. Some professional systems with security cameras also allow you to remotely view rooms in your home via an app, providing additional peace of mind when you are out of town.

Family in the kitchen.

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