Tips For Making Your Home More Secure
1. Install door locks and deadbolts on all outside doors.
2. Light possible points of entry to deter thieves.
3. Lock gates with padlocks and/or chains.
4. Secure utility sheds with a weather-resistant padlock and hasp.
5. Lock unattended bikes and equipment to an immovable object.
Burglary statistics can be startling - even frightening.
- In the time it takes you to read this sentence, one burglary will be committed in the US , according to crime reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
- One out of six homes will be burglarized this year, with an average loss of $1,280.
Research indicates that most burglars will work no longer that 60 seconds to get into a home. Therefore, homeowners who make it difficult for thieves to enter their homes can greatly reduce the risk of break-ins. It's also important to get to know your neighbors so they will keep an eye on your house and you on theirs. Remember, the neighborhood that looks cared for, and where people know and are concerned for each other, is less prone to crime.
In this month's home security tips we discuss some common home security steps you can take to protect yourself and your property. The security checklist will give you a handy reference to determine your home's most vulnerable points of entry. In addition, forming a block watch can be one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime. If you're interested in forming a Neighborhood Watch or would like more information about home security, contact your local police department or crime prevention organization and they will help you get started.
Before installing any security device, check your local fire and safety codes. Do not install any permanent device which can't be opened from the inside in the event of an emergency.
The easiest precaution you can take is to purchase quality locks for all your entryway doors, and use them. In almost half of all residential burglaries, thieves enter through unlocked doors or crawl through unlocked windows. Make sure each family member keeps doors and windows locked at all times.
Your entry doors should be constructed of solid one-and-one-half-inch-thick hardwood, or metal-clad, for maximum strength and resistance to attack. For added security, consider:
- Installing a peephole or wide-angle viewer so you can see a visitor before opening the door.
- Using strong hinges with non-removable or hidden pins.
Knobs and Levers
Strong, reliable doorlocks are essential to any effective home security program. Make sure all your entry doors use quality locks that are in good working order. High security features such as ball-bearing locking mechanisms offer added resistance to break-ins. Keyed knobs and levers are available in many styles and finished to complement your home. For a higher level of security, keyed doorlocks should always be accompanied by the added strength of quality deadbolts.
Working in conjunction with keyed knobs or levers, deadbolts withstand the twisting, turning, pulling, prying and pounding that ordinary doorlocks alone can't.
When selecting a deadbolt lock, look for such features as:
- Full one-inch bolt to resist kicking and ramming.
- Bolt with hardened steel inserts to prevent thieves from cutting through it.
- Massive, interlocking chassis which acts as an anti-pry barrier.
- Reinforced strike plate with extra-long mounting screws to keep it from being forcefully ripped from the door frame.
Should I use Single- or Double-Cylinder Deadbolts?
Most deadbolts on the market are single-cylinder deadbolts; a key operates the lock from the outside and thumbturn operates the lock from the inside. Single-cylinder deadbolts are suitable for most entryways.
Double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to open the lock from outside and inside your home. This prevents burglars from breaking glass windows in your front or back door and gaining entry by reaching in to unlock the knob or deadbolt.
If you are considering installing double-cylinder deadbolts, review your local rules and ordinances first. Some areas do not allow double-cylinder deadbolts to be installed because you may block exits in an emergency. Also, if you have small children or elderly living in your home, the use of double-cylinder deadbolts is discouraged. As alternatives, security glazing can be applied to glass panels or shatter-proof plastic can be used to provide security.
Thieves don't want to risk being seen. Doors leading from attached garages could allow potential thieves concealed access into your home. Be sure the doors are locked with quality, keyed doorlocks and deadbolts. Garage doors with automatic openers do not guarantee security, as they can be forced open. Security devices for automatic door openers are available.
Unattached garages, besides storing many valuable possessions, may provide tools to help a thief obtain entry to your home. If you don't want to use keyed doorlocks and deadbolts here, consider high-quality laminated steel padlocks and sturdy hasps for solid protection.
Sliding Door Security
Sliding glass doors can be the easiest points of entry to your home. To improve security on existing sliding doors, consider:
Installing keyed locking devices that secure the doors to the frame or track.
Adjusting the track clearances on the doors so they can't be pushed out of their tracks.
Placing a strong metal or wooden bar, such as a broomstick handle, along the track to prevent the doors from being opened.
Some newer patio doors have locking systems that are built into the unit. If your sliding glass doors do not have these locks, you may want to replace them with more energy-efficient, secure models.
Installing keyed locking devices on double-hung windows can prevent thieves from raising the window from the outside. Many locking devices allow the window to be opened a few inches for ventilation, while preventing the window from being raised further. An option is to slide a bolt or nail through a hole drilled at a downward angle in each top corner of the inside sash and part way through the outside sash.
Because basement windows are especially vulnerable, grates, grillwork or flat steel bars are valuable which can be installed on the inside of the windows. Remember, do not install any permanent device which can't be opened from the inside in the event of an emergency.
Also, prune shrubbery that can hide windows - especially basement windows. Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows. Also, make sure ladders are always stored in a locked garage or shed and not left outside to allow easy access to a second-floor window.
Lighting is one of the best, and most cost-effective, deterrents to burglary. Indoor lighting gives the impression a home or business is occupied and outdoor lighting eliminates hiding places. According to many crime prevention officers, about nine out of ten burglars will choose not to enter a building that is well lit.
Install exterior lighting near porches, rear and side doorways, garage doors and all other points of entry. Entryways to your home should always be well lit; many ornamental lights provide only dim lighting. Floodlights are recommended for superior illumination.
Trim shrubs or bushes that would conceal criminal activity near entrances. Also, light areas of dense shrubs, trees and other dark corners where thieves could hide.
Make sure you:
Place some lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken.
Aim floodlights away from the house so you can see if anybody is approaching.
Place lights at opposite corners, rather than in the center, to eliminate dark areas.
Motion-sensing lights, which automatically turn on when someone approaches, can be very effective. A sudden burst of light is alarming to a potential thief who doesn't know if he had been spotted or if the light works automatically. Lights with a photocell automatically turn on when it's dark and off when it's light, relieving you of this duty. Both types help save on energy because they do not remain on continuously.
Neighbors who are watching out for each other can also provide security. A neighbor who notices someone looking in windows or slowly cruising the neighborhood can turn on their outside lights and contact police.
Security When You're Away From Home
When you are not at home, light timers are useful for providing an impression that the house is occupied. Be sure to operate lights in several rooms and use logical lighting patterns. For example, turn on living room lights at dusk, turn them off at your normal bedtime. Set the bedroom light to turn on when you normally prepare for bed and turn off when you usually go to bed.
Some light timers offer random settings. This can be especially useful for lights in kitchens and bathrooms.
If you'll be away from home for several days, be sure to:
Have the post office hold your mail or ask a neighbor to pick it up.
Stop newspaper deliveries.
Ask a neighbor to tend your yard and watch your home (offer to do the same for your neighbors when they go on vacation).
Never leave messages on answering machines indicating that you are away from home.
What About Alarms?
There are a variety of electronic alarms and security devices on the market that may meet your individual security needs. Evaluate several companies to determine the level of security that meets your needs. Sources of information include your local police department, the public library, the Better Business Bureau, and consumer advocates.
Carefully check references before purchasing a system or signing a contract. Learn to use your system properly. If you continually set off false alarms, your neighbors and the police department may not respond and you could be fined. (Check local municipal ordinances.)
Personal Property and Outdoor Valuables
Property left unprotected in your yard is an easy target. Your best defense is to store these movable items in a locked shed or garage.
If you must leave valuable possessions such as lawn mowers or barbecue grills outside, hide them with tarps and secure them to stationary points, such as fence posts or trees, with quality padlocks. Also, secure gates with quality locks to prevent easy access to your yard. Padlocks can be used in conjunction with sturdy hasps, chains, or cables in certain application. Padlocks are available in different body sizes, shackle lengths and designs to suit your needs.
For a high level of security, select:
- High-quality laminated steel padlocks with pin-tumbler locking mechanisms which provide resistance to pounding, twisting, prying and picking.
- Padlocks with "hardened" shackles (loops) to resist cutting (check the product's packaging to find this information.)
- Laminated brass or covered steel padlocks for outdoor applications, as they offer more corrosion protection.
Certain padlocks can be purchased "keyed-alike". With keyed-alike padlocks, one single key opens two or more padlocks in a set. This allows you the convenience of using the same key to open the padlocks on your shed, gate latches and garage. Many doorlocks and deadbolts are also available keyed-alike for your convenience.
Specialty locks are available for a variety of uses, including outboard motors, trailers, skis and firearms. Many security experts recommend storing firearms unloaded in locked boxes and using trigger guard locks to discourage theft.
More bicycles are reported stolen in the US than any other single item. In fact, crime reports from the FBI indicate that one bike is stolen about every three minutes.
Lock your bikes at all times - even in your own yard. Many crime prevention experts say bikes are often stolen from the owner's yard. For maximum security, lock your bicycle frame to an immovable post or object with a steel U-bar lock. (Make sure the bike and lock cannot be lifted over the top of the post or pole.) When not in use, store your bike in a secure garage or shed and lock it with a quality padlock. If using a chain lock, "weave" it around the bike to provide added security.
Every home should have working smoke detectors to protect family members. For maximum protection, smoke detectors should be located on every level of your home. Place smoke detectors:
In the hallway nearest the bedrooms.
At the top of second-floor stairs.
At the bottom of basement stairs.
In the garage.
In every bedroom.
Smoke detectors should be attached to the highest part of the ceiling.
Also, be sure to check the batteries monthly. Many people use the annual time changes (Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time and vice versa) as a reminder to check and replace the batteries in their smoke detectors.
Fire safety experts recommend keeping working flashlights in bedrooms to make it easier for family members to find their way out in an emergency.
In addition, keep a portable fire extinguisher in the kitchen, garage and basement to handle small fires. The extinguishers should be ABC dry chemical models because they can handle combustion, liquid and electrical fires. If the fire continues after the extinguisher is emptied, do not fight the fire any longer. Leave your home immediately, and then contact your local fire department.
Consultation and Free Estimate
An ATD LOCK & SECURITY consultant will come to inspect your property and will provide you with the best security solutions for your needs.
Contact us to schedule an appointment for one of our experts to come out and inspect your premises. A detailed, Free Estimate is provided.
We are on the job 24 hours / 7 days a week, and are equipped to handle any type of job.