Case Your Own House - How Secure is Your Home?
Everyone wants to feel safe in their own home. From a small apartment to a rambling mansion, basic security is a critical concern. While you likely lock the doors at night, there are myriad other considerations when evaluating how secure your house really is.
Locks are the primary line of defense in protecting your home, but they won’t do any good if you don’t use them. Always lock your doors at night, but also keep them locked during the day even when you’re at home. Crime doesn’t only happen after the sun goes down.
Evaluate the type of locks you have on each door. The primary door often has a secure choice, such as a deadbolt. Secondary doors such as those attached to the garage or coming in from the side of the house, are often less secure, however. Avoid locks that are easily picked and back up weaker systems with the addition of a deadbolt. Speaking of deadbolts, you should install them into the frame of the door rather than relying on a slide lock that is mounted to the face of the door.
Windows and Sliding Doors
In addition to the front, back, and side doors, consider the access to your windows and sliding glass doors. Always make sure they lock securely and never leave a window open at night or while you are away from the home. A simple, inexpensive wooden dowel placed into the runner will add a significant level of security.
Second Story Access
Stand in your driveway or on the street and evaluate your house. Can you easily get onto your roof? Does your second-story deck have stairs that connect to the ground? Even though you may feel your second story is secure, a determined thief will climb a nearby tree or shimmy up a downspout to gain access. Similarly, an RV parked next to the building can provide an access point, as can a ladder left outside.
Older glass and panels used in less primary parts of the house, such as the garage, can be easy to break. Evaluate your windows and install security glass where needed. Alternatively, install bars on windows that can otherwise be easily broken. Remember the smaller side windows on your front door too—an easy way for intruders to unlock your door.
Your home locks are only as secure as the key that unlocks them. Keep track of each house key. Also, change your locks when a roommate moves out or when you buy a new home. Use extreme caution when hiding a key on your property as it’s an invitation for home invasion. Instead of hiding the key loose, put it in a digital or manual lockbox.
Another option is to ditch the house key altogether and rely on an automatic lock instead. These mechanisms rely on a code to unlock the door when entering the home. However, the risk of someone gaining access to your code is the same as someone acquiring a key, so change your code often and resist sharing the code with anyone outside your household.
Having a security system is a great way to feel safe in your home environment. Plus, you will often get a discount on your home owner’s insurance. However, don’t let your security system give you a false sense of protection. In order for it to be effective, the system needs to be used regularly and properly. Again, don’t give out your security system code. Keep your system active at all times. Also recognize when your system won’t work, such as when the WiFi is down or the power is out.
Surprisingly, your landscaping can work against you when it comes to home security. As mentioned above, a tree branch can provide unwanted second story access so trim back branches or limb the tree to create large spaces between branches. Also, look for shrubs large enough someone can hide around, especially near the front and back doors. Thin bushes near the home to eliminate the hiding place. Consider placing spiny or thorny plants beneath windows to deter criminals.
Don’t overlook the garage as an access point. A criminal can easily use the remote in your unlocked car, break a window, or get in through a rarely-used side door. If your garage is attached to your house, always keep your interior door locked and add a deadbolt to further secure the access point.