The FBI states that a home invasion happens every 16 seconds — and more than 90 percent of the time, the homes are empty. So, who are these burglars? There are two types: amateur crooks who might try a door or window until one opens, and skilled pros who target a home in a specific area.
Employing the right security measures can discourage expert thieves and beat opportunists. But criminals aren’t your only problem when it comes to safeguarding your home. You, your friends and your family can get injured by hazardous areas around your property. Check out these 10 simple things you can do to make your home safer for years to come.
1: Arm Your Home with an Alarm System
If you’re thinking about getting a burglar alarm, join the ranks! About 1.8 million electronic security systems are set up in homes across the United States each year. Understandably so — a residence missing a security system is three times more likely to be broken into than a residence with one, according to Simon Hakim, a professor of economics at Temple University in Philadelphia.
On average, you’ll pay between $125 and $1,500 for a security system, plus a monthly monitoring fee of about $39. There are many good options. Look for a system with a separate control panel and key pad. Those that have both of these in the same unit can be easier for an intruder to defeat before the alarm alerts a monitoring center.Did you know? Intruders are usually after things they can sell quickly for cash, like jewelry or handguns. Keep these items out of reach!
2: Bone up on Security with a Dog
A hound can certainly add another level of protection to your home, whether you want one in addition to or in lieu of a security system.
But not all dogs are equal when it comes to keeping your property and family safe. Guard dogs protect and defend property. They’re not pets. Protection dogs, on the other hand, are family dogs that watch over people rather than a physical area. German shepherds, rottweilers and Doberman pinschers are considered the best breeds for home protection, thanks to generations of breeding. Kids are safe around them.
If you want a security-trained dog, make sure to acquire one from a reputable trainer. And if you want a dog and security system, look into pet-immune motion detectors that will announce intruders rather than your furry friend!
3: Install Smart Lighting, Indoors and Out
Make it harder for burglars to break into your home at night undetected with strategic lighting. Outdoor motion detectors, flood lights and security lighting near possible points of entry, like windows and doors, can be a reasonable discouragement for unwanted visitors.
For an additional layer of protection, consider installing a security camera. Put up signs that illustrate that your home is monitored with a security camera to keep potential burglars at bay. Because your home is more likely to be broken into when you’re away, set indoor lights on a timer to make it look like you’re home.
4: Minimize Access to Your Keys
More than one lock on a door will make it difficult for burglars to get in. Whether you have a lock set, dead bolt or security chain, it’s even more important to be mindful of who has access to your keys and residence.
Instead of giving your babysitter and dog walker all of your house keys, give them one key to the front door or the garage door opener. That way, if the babysitter’s key is lost or falls into the wrong hands, a theif won’t have access to the other locks on the front door or any other doors.
The same goes for handing out keys to the valet attendant and car mechanic. With a little foresight, it can be easy to minimize risk. Installing modern secure door locks is another deterrent to break-ins.
5: Be Acquainted With Your Neighbors
Knowing your neighbors is an invaluable form of home security. Well-acquainted neighbors know to call you or the police when they see something suspicious.
If they know you’re out of town, for example, and they see a furniture delivery truck parked in your driveway, hopefully they’ll call in the suspicious behavior. Stacked up newspapers on your driveway, promotional fliers left on your front door or even packages sitting on your porch are all signs you’re away from home. Ask a neighbor to pick up these things so that anyone cruising the neighborhood doesn’t get tipped off that you’re out of town.
6: Strengthen Your Doors’ Kick-in Resistance
Almost two-thirds of burglaries involve forced entry, which is partly due to weak door locks and mounting hardware, according to Consumer Reports.
To shore up locks, replace the strike, a metal plate mounted on the door jamb that the lock bolt slides into. For about $10, you can significantly strengthen the weakest of locks.
Another way to augment your door’s kick-in resistance is to replace short mounting screws with 3-inch ones that reach the door’s studs.
But interuders don’t always break their way in. Sometimes, homeowners let them in through the front door! Installing — and vigilantly using — a peephole is an advisable way to avoid this dangerous mistake.
7: Bolster Windows
Windows pose a seperate security challenge. All a burglar has to do is break a window, reach inside, and unlock it to gain entry.
There are some smart things you can do to strengthen your windows, starting with the glass itself. Common glass is really easy to break. Laminated windows are ideal, or a special kind of glass that’s similar to car windshields. Installing a second layer of glass helps, as well as ensuring that panes are securely attached to the window frame.
Also, make sure that secure door locks are positioned farther than an arm’s reach away from windows.
8: Don’t Publicize What’s Inside Your Home
You wouldn’t put candy in front of a child and say “Don’t eat this!” So, don’t keep your blinds open and lights on at night and tempt burglars who might be scoping out your neighborhood.
Window coverings should distract onlookers from seeing inside your house. If you have sheer or transparent curtains, just make sure they’re paired with another kind of window treatment that protects your privacy.
Remember, you’re obscuring the things in your house as well as the people. This way, it’s harder for potential intruders to learn your routine and to know exactly when your family is at home. Of course, keep high-target items like flat screen TVs and jewelry out of sight. Simple solutions like tall fencing or bushes encircling your property can help hide views of your home’s interior.
9: Protect Hazardous Areas
Sure, there are things you can do to keep out burglars, but it’s also imperative to safeguard your residence from accident-prone family and friends.
One of the most dangerous spots on a property is the swimming pool. After all, drowning is the third leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, and half of these deaths occur in swimming pools, according to the Anesthesiology Medical Journal. Constructing a fence around the perimeter will keep out curious young neighbors. Boost safety by setting pool rules like no swimming alone. Also, make sure everyone in your family knows how to swim.
The garage is a conceivably dangerous area, too. Sharp tools, toxic cleaners and fertilizers should be protected. It’s a good idea to just keep the garage shut and off-limits when possible. Explain to your kids that it’s not a play area, and suggest another place to hang out.
10: Protect Your Home Against Fires
If you’ve ever severely burned something you’ve cooked, then you perhaps know the piercing sound of a smoke alarm. And if you’re like me, you deactivated the device and forgot to turn it back on.
Don’t make that error again! Approximately 3,000 people die in residential fires every year, but there are simple things you can do to save your home and family from runaway fires. Keep all of your smoke detectors in good working order. Test them once a month, and replace batteries annually. There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in high-risk areas, like the kitchen and the garage. And above all, practice a fire escape plan as a family so everyone knows what to do in an emergency.