9 devices you should buy to make your home instantly safer

Whether you're dealing with natural disasters or burglars, these nine things will save you time, money and stress.

Erin Gobler Contributor
Erin Gobler is a personal finance writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She writes about topics including budgeting, student loans, credit, mortgages, investing and insurance. Her work has been published in financial publications and startups such as NextAdvisor, The Simple Dollar, LendingTree, Robinhood and more.
Erin Gobler
6 min read

Multiple things can go wrong at home, from gas leaks to broken water pipes. Preparation is key to avoiding disaster.

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Trying to keep your family and property safe from harm -- whether from intruders, natural disasters or any other type of low-likelihood but high-stakes risk -- is an unavoidable part of adult life. In short, things can always go wrong. But having the right preventative measures in place is one of the best ways to minimize the consequences.

Most disaster-proofing devices are affordable and accessible, especially thanks to online retailers. More importantly, when unforeseeable circumstances strike, these devices can save you a massive amount of time, money and stress.

These are nine things you can buy to make your home instantly safer.

Natural disasters

Plenty of things can go wrong in a house, from fires to gas leaks to broken water pipes. Some of these pose serious risk to the inhabitants of the house, and all of them can cost thousands of dollars to the unlucky homeowner dealing with them. These are the best tools to avoid (or minimize the damage of) fires, leaks and floods.

Smoke detectors

One of the most basic safety measures that everyone should take to protect their home is to install smoke detectors and ensure they're properly working. According to data from the Red Cross, having a smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in a fire in half.

The National Fire Alarm Code requires all homes to have smoke alarms with battery backup on each level of the home, outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. As a result, there's a good chance your home is already fully equipped. But it's just as important to replace your batteries on a consistent schedule -- the recommended timeline is once per year. Additionally, you should replace the smoke alarm itself every 10 years.

Read next: Here's our buying guide to help you pick the right smart smoke detector for your home.


Smoke detectors are only the first line of defense against fires. There are other tools to effectively minimize the damage fires cause.

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Fire extinguishers

Alarms help make residents aware of a house fire, but a fire extinguisher can help fight it -- especially if it's small. This tool can be useful for putting out a localized fire and preventing it from spreading. However, it's important to note that homeowners should not remain in the home to fight a fire on their own. According to the Red Cross, if you use a fire extinguisher and it doesn't immediately put the fire out, you should drop the extinguisher and leave the home.

Home sprinkler system

Sprinkler systems aren't quite as common as smoke alarms or fire extinguishers, but it's worth considering one for your home -- especially if you're open to taking on minor renovation projects. A sprinkler system can help to extinguish or prevent a fire and decrease your chance of inhaling deadly smoke in the event of a fire. As a bonus, it may also make you eligible for homeowners insurance discounts.

Installing a sprinkler system is more involved than buying a fire extinguisher, but it's not as pricey as you might think. According to the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the average cost of installing a sprinkler system is about $1.35 per square foot of the house. That puts it under or in line with many minor home renovation projects, depending on the size of your house.

Want to know more about fire safety? Read our fire safety guide to learn how to prevent fires and prepare for emergencies. 

Carbon monoxide detectors

Fires aren't the only thing that can go wrong in a house. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas found in many home appliances and vehicles. Exposure to carbon monoxide in a home can lead to poisoning and even death. In fact, CDC data reports that more than 400 Americans per year die from carbon monoxide poisoning, with more than 20,000 total emergency room visits.

One of the best ways to prevent CO poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide detector. The CDC recommends checking or replacing your batteries twice per year and replacing your detector every five years. You can also reduce your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning by removing or regularly servicing those appliances that can leak this gas.


Fire isn't the only disaster that can wreck your house. Broken pipes and flooding can severely damage a home -- and catching them early can save money.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Flood sensor

Water damage is one of the most common homeowners insurance claims. And according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average claim is nearly $11,000. One of the best ways to mitigate flood damage is to detect water leaks early with a flood sensor. These sensors alert you if there's a leak in your home, and some can even turn your water off in the event of a leak.

Leaving a handful of detectors behind toilets, under sinks, beside sump pumps and at other particular pain points in your home can save a huge headache in the long run.

Want to learn more about preventing water damage? Read our home flood prevention checklist here.

Home security

When it comes to keeping your family and your home safe, it's not just about protecting from environmental emergencies. Depending on where you live home break-ins, theft and vandalism may also pose significant risks. One of the best ways to guard against these is by installing a home security system. But while whole home security systems might be right for some people, others may only need one or two devices to meet their needs. Here are some of the products you may want to consider.


A video doorbell is a great way to catch porch pirates red-handed.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Doorbell cameras

If package theft is a major concern for you, video doorbells might save you a lot of anxiety. A doorbell video camera replaces your traditional doorbell and allows you to see who is visiting your home and records instances of people approaching the door. When someone rings the doorbell, you'll be alerted on your phone, and the two-way audio capabilities will allow you to speak with your visitor -- even if you're away from the house.

Door and window sensors

Most burglars enter homes through doors and windows, so it's important to keep them safe. Professionally installed security systems and DIY options both offer these sensors, which you can place on any entrances you're worried about. They'll be triggered when someone breaks in or opens an unlocked entrance, sending you a notification on your phone, setting off an alarm or alerting the authorities, depending on your preferences.

Security cameras

Home security cameras are some of the most important parts of any home security system. Most companies sell indoor and outdoor cameras, which can be placed around your property and alert you of someone at your home who shouldn't be. Depending on the camera, they may also come with floodlights and two-way audio features.

Security cameras can be helpful gadgets for covering problem points around your house -- whether it's because raccoons keep getting in your garbage cans or because you're worried about a vulnerable entrance point to the home.


Floodlight cameras can act as strong deterrents against would-be intruders.


Outdoor floodlights

Having outdoor floodlights on your property can serve two distinct yet important purposes. First, a motion-activated floodlight can help to deter burglars. Break-ins are often crimes of opportunity; burglars often aren't targeting a specific home -- they're looking for the easiest target. If you have a floodlight that activates as soon as they enter your yard, they're more likely to keep moving.

Outdoor lights can also help to keep your family safe in that they'll be able to navigate the yard at night, especially if you have older individuals in your home. According to the CDC, more than three million older individuals are treated for falls each year. By properly lighting your yard, you'll be able to help avoid preventable injuries.

Want to learn more about deterring burglars? Check out this guide on how to burglar-proof your home.

The bottom line

When it comes to keeping your family safe, there are, unfortunately, a lot of things you can't control. The good news is that there's also plenty that you can do to mitigate the outcomes of any disasters that do happen. By purchasing and installing the proper preventative measures in your home, you can help protect your family and your home more effectively.

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