We want our place of residence to be private, a sanctuary where everyone at home can relax. For peace of mind, it’s vital to keep your household secure. Start by observing how all your home’s locks are working, and being on the lookout for any vulnerabilities in your exterior doors. Also, monitor the surrounding premises. It’s not as hard as you think to have optimal security where you live.
Be a good neighbor. Get acquainted with your neighbors, at least the ones on each side, as well as two or three neighbors across the way. Good neighbors watch out for each other. Establish trust. Communicate once in awhile. You don’t have to be friends; simply be civil. A good neighbor will watch your place while you’re gone. Some may even collect your mail, mow and water your lawn, or even help in other ways to make it look like you’re still home. Return the favor whenever you get the chance.
Have everybody in the family agree to follow basic rules.
- Answer the door only if you know the person. Install a peephole if you don’t have one already.
- Lock windows and doors every night before sleep, and anytime you’re away.
- Keep your valuables stored in unusual places.
Do It Yourself. Pay attention to possible weaknesses in your security, and your house will be less attractive to a burglar. No one’s property is completely impervious, but there are a good number of ways to prevent criminal trespass.
Don’t “hide” a spare key outside. Don’t leave an extra key atop your door, under the mat, or under a planter. That’s where a robber will look first. Will a phony rock keyholder be safer? Perhaps, but an experienced thief will likely already know exactly what it looks like. Instead, it’s far better to give a copy of your key to a trusted friend or neighbor.
Upgrade weak or worn-out locks. Any professional locksmiths worth their salt will tell you that deadbolts provide better security. Be sure to get a grade-2 deadbolt, which penetrates the doorframe. Heavy-duty is always superior. Digital or smart locks will add an additional security layer. With some, you can synch your locks to your smart device, so you don’t even have to use a key at all.
Secure windows and glass doors. Any open window will attract an intruder. First-floor windows are riskier of course, but upper-floor windows are also attractive, since a cat burglar can get in by tree, balcony, ladder, stairway, or fence. Accordingly, use a blocking device, such as a dowel of wood, on each window. This will prevent a person on the outside from sliding it open. Make sure you can remove these window-blocking devices easily from the inside, so that people will be able to leave quickly if there’s a fire.
For horizontally sliding aluminum windows, and ground-level sliding-glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary. Install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel, so it cannot be lifted out when in the closed position. You can also stick a decal on windows and on glass doors, right next to the latch mechanisms, showing that you’re part of a Neighborhood Watch program, or that you have an alarm system.
Fortify your doors. Look at the quality of your outside doors. A hollow door is susceptible, so you ought to replace it with a solid-core door of metal or wood. Bolster your doors’ locks by replacing the strike plate ~ the stationary piece where the bolt enters ~ and mounting a solid metal plate for the sliding bolt on the doorjamb. Replace any short mounting screws with longer screws, which reach the door’s studs, thus reinforcing the doorframe.
Fasten down your air-conditioner. Apply an air-conditioner bracket, corner braces, or a sliding window lock, so someone cannot get in through an unsecured opening.
Store your keys and garage-door remote sensibly. It’s a rotten idea to routinely keep your keys and remotes near a door with glass, or a door near a window, making them visible to anyone outside. Hide them in a drawer or on hooks mounted inside a cupboard door instead.
Put ladders away. Don’t leave a ladder out, because an imposter, pretending to be a handyman or contractor, could take the ladder to enter through a window or balcony.
Keep the yard tidy. Regularly trim your hedges, plants, shrubs, and trees. If not ungainly, not properly spaced, or too tall, prowlers will find hiding places.
Protect your garage. Some thieves prefer the effortless method of getting into your home through the garage. Whenever you’re out, keep the garage door closed and locked.
Keep the lights functioning. Install lights by every door, with motion detectors to deter trespassers. Some lights also respond to variations in temperature, sound, or daylight. With some, you can connect to your smart device, so you’ll be alerted of any activity and you can respond even if you’re not home.
Install timers. You can make it look like you’re home using timers on your lights, radios, TVs, and sprinklers. If you go on vacation, you can get a mobile app synced to your smart device, and control everything remotely.
Install an alarm system. If you can afford it, install an alarm system. Teach the family how to use it daily. Keep the batteries charged, so your home will be secure even in a power outage. Consider:
- keeping your system on a timer schedule;
- adding a fire alarm;
- installing a moisture monitor in the basement to detect flooding;
- adding a carbon monoxide monitor; and
- using a smart device for remote access to the whole system, so you can monitor and adjust it anytime.
Hire an expert. If you find any weaknesses in your home’s security, to learn how to remedy each problem, consult with a trustworthy local locksmith. If you’re in Elgin, Illinois, it’s a good idea to request a free consultation from a reputable residential locksmith specialist in Elgin, such as those on staff at Ames Locksmith Service.