Sometimes, the best way to assess a home for security lapses is by checking items off of a checklist. This way, you can avoid paying a professional to come out to your house and doing an assessment of his own, at least until you have time to correct the issues that you have within your capacity to correct. You might want to have a professional install your home security system as a start to your home security plan, but other than that, here are some things you can fix yourself.

1. Trim bushes, trees and bushes that block windows from the view of your neighbors.

2. Cut back tree branches that could allow access to your top floors if a burglar were to climb the tree.

3. Always close your windows at night or when you are away from your house.

4. Put your interior lights on timers when you are away.

5. Repair torn or missing window screens in a timely fashion.

6. Always lock your garage and shed, even they are going to be out of sight for just a few minutes.

7. Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street.

8. Nothing is left in your yard after dark, including mowers, ladders, bikes and scooters.

9. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your house

10. Install smoke alarms in your house and link them to your home security system.

11. Develop a family escape plan in case of an emergency.

12. Place fire extinguishers in strategic areas around the house.

13. Purchase a fire-proof safe that is too heavy for one person to carry out of the house.

14. Keep your vehicle keys and your house keys on different key rings.

15. Establish and participate in a neighborhood watch group.

16. Install peepholes in every entry door.

17. Make sure entry doors are made of steel or have a solid wooden core.

18. Install deadbolts with a minimum one-inch throw on all entry doors.

19. Reinforce all entry door jambs.

20. Change the locks as soon as you move in.

21. Install operational heavy-duty locks on all windows.

22. Install window treatments that entirely cover the windows.

23. Always break down boxes of major purchases and place the boxes into black garbage bags before putting them into the trash.

24. Mow your lawn frequently in the summer. Overgrown yards tell burglars that no one is home.

25. Provide a trusted neighbor with a spare house key instead of hiding one somewhere on your property.

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