Shared or lost keys can unlock the door to trouble. When the "key" to your house is on your phone, though, or entered into a keypad, you don't need to worry as much that others might have unlimited access to your home. Upgrading the deadbolt on your door with technology like the August Smart Lock can give you greater control over who enters your home and when. Create temporary virtual keys for guests to arrive at prearranged times, or simply buzz them in at a moment's notice from your phone. For peace of mind, you can check back on the app for a full log of recent visitors. Available on Amazon; $199.
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- 10 Safety Essentials That Most Homes Are Missing
10 Safety Essentials That Most Homes Are Missing
A Smarter Lock
Aid for Accidents
While this seems obvious, you should always keep a first aid kit on hand so you're prepared for accidents or emergencies. Pick up a prepackaged product like this 36-piece set that goes way beyond the basics, complete with alcohol swabs, a whistle, and a compass. The lightweight case is attached to a carabiner, so it's easy to take on the go too. Available on Amazon; $21.
Related: 10 Essentials for Any Survival Kit
Although we all hope we never have to endure the damage and loss of life that can be caused by a house fire, it’s still important to be prepared for one. If the unthinkable happens, an emergency ladder could save your life. Consider purchasing a multistory model and stashing it in an accessible location, preferably near a window, so you or your family members will be able to quickly and safely escape the house in the event of fire. Available on Amazon; $35.
You may think of your heating system primarily as a source of physical comfort, but in the winter it can protect your home against devastating damage. To ensure that your heating system stays on task, consider a Wi-Fi-connected thermostat like the Nest. The technology offers you the convenience of being able to control your thermostat from anywhere, via any Internet-enabled device. But more important, Wi-Fi thermostats provide real-time system alerts, so if your heating system were to fail, you could take action immediately—before frozen pipes and related hazards endanger your home. Available on Amazon; $249.
There's a reason why many police departments and security experts recommend installing motion-sensor lights as a defense against nighttime intruders. These energy-conscious fixtures shine a light on would-be burglars, deterring those who would rather do their bad deeds in the dark. Installed near entryways, motion-sensor lights also provide safe passage to anyone arriving home after dark. Available on Amazon; $19.47.
Losing power doesn't have to mean losing touch with the rest of the world. This emergency radio needs only one of these three sources to operate: three AAA batteries, a little sunlight, or a small workout via a hand crank. Once the radio's running, you can set it to broadcast local weather alerts and still have enough juice to recharge your phone. And should you forget your candles and matches as you run to the basement for shelter, this phone-charging radio unit also serves triple-duty as an LED flashlight. Available on Amazon; $80.
At most times of the year, power outages are merely a nuisance. In the winter, however, they are downright dangerous. Why? Because the whole-home heating systems we use today rely on electricity. Without electricity, well, you're on your own. If your home doesn't have a fireplace and you're reluctant to get a generator, look into options like the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater. Rated for indoor use, the propane-powered unit can keep a 200-square-foot space comfortable for as long as the fuel supply lasts. Available on Amazon; $136.59.
Related: The Power Outage Survival Guide
Safe and Sound
A small safe can really come in handy for safeguarding valuables like passports, family heirlooms, checkbooks, and other important papers. A safe that’s cleverly hidden away can keep these possessions from being stolen in the event of a break-in, and a fireproof and waterproof model can protect your valuables from the devastating effects of a fire. Available on Amazon; $65.
A fire extinguisher may not be the most exciting or attractive addition to your home, but this must-have safety essential could save your life. Place it in an easily accessible area so you can quickly and effectively put out a fire, or at least tame the flames while your family escapes to safety. Available on Amazon; $20.
When the lights suddenly flicker and you find yourself shrouded in darkness, a lighter can be a wonderful thing. Always have a few of these close at hand in case the power goes out or another emergency situation arises—you'll be grateful that they're there. A lighter can help you start a fire, illuminate a few candles, or navigate the dark. Purchase a pack of three or more so you'll have extras available whenever you need them. Available on Amazon; $8 for 6.