Protect Your Home From Burglary
At the end of the day, safety and security are some of the most important parts of your home life. In order to help prevent intrusions to that security, consider some of these great home safety tips. Not only will they keep burglars out, but they'll also make you feel more secure when you go to sleep at night.
- Kickproof your doors. Burglars oftentimes kick in doors to get into your home, and unless you have an extremely hollow door, the door itself is not the problem. No matter the material of your door, (steel, wood, fiberglass), nothing can keep a burglar from kicking in the door if the door jamb is easy to split. Most times, the door jamb splits near the lock's strike plate. To strengthen your door, use a 1-inch-long deadbolt lock and a reinforced metal box strike, which costs $10. Use 3-inch screws to mount them so that they lodge in the framing beyond the door jamb itself. Don't overlook the door that leads into your house from the garage, either. That's a common entry point for burglars as well.
- Choose the right locks. To strengthen your door lock, chose high-security models that can resist drilling and picking. If you're worried about the stability of your lock, then get a reinforced strike plate. Remember to use a pull-apart key chain so that your home keys stay with you when your car is valet-parked or serviced.
- Secure glass areas. Security window film costs between $7 and $10 per square foot, and can typically withstand blows of up to 400 kicks. These should always be installed by a professional to ensure accuracy, although it will add to the overall cost. You can also further secure your window locks by inserting removable eyebolts in holes drilled into the sash where they overlap, or by adding locking scissor gates or fixed metal grilles. Also secure window air conditioners with sturdy screws through wood or metal framing elements so that burglars can't push them in. In all windows, check that added barriers won't violate fire safety codes or manufacturer warranties.
- Keep it bright. Illuminate all areas surrounding doors, windows and blind spots. Install lights high up on exterior walls so that they aren't easy to disable. Solar-powered lights are energy efficient, but they often don't provide enough light for security purposes. Instead, buy easy-to-install low-voltage light systems or professionally installed 120-volt lights, which can be connected to motion detectors and whole-house security systems. Compact fluorescent light bulbs made for outdoor use can save energy and outlast regular bulbs. However, they can take longer to reach full brightness, and they don't all work with motion-detected fixtures, so check the packaging.
- Landscape wisely. Tall foundation plants or high fences can provide cover for criminals, so be wary of where you put them. Also, trim tree branches that might provide access to your windows, roof or skylights. Another good trick is to put gravel beds around the house, making it easier to hear anyone lurking outside your home. Underneath your first-floor windows, put heavy bushes or plant beds that aren't easy to maneuver around, making it harder for burglars to access your windows.
- Organize your neighbors. Try putting together a neighborhood watch program. It won't cost any money, but you may have to donate a night or two a week to keeping an extra eye peeled. The National Crime Prevention Council has great tips for putting one together. Also, find neighbors who you can trust to pick up your mail and newspapers when you're away for a few days. That way things don't pile up on your porch, a dead giveaway to burglars that nobody's home. Click here for more tips on Home Security While You're On Vacation.
- Add an alarm. Some alarm systems will call your cell phone if they can't reach you on your landline. Radio-based alarm systems that use dedicated UHF frequencies can be used as a backup or as a standalone solution that eliminates the need for landlines. If you're switching to an Internet-based phone service, then make sure it's compatible with your alarm. Also, put a sign for your alarm system in your lawn. It's far better to keep burglars away by letting them know you have an alarm system than to have to use your alarm system when they break in unaware.