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Home Security Tips

Homeowners can have increased security with a minimum of cost by implementing some of the suggestions in this article.  Homeowners should approach home security in terms of layers or zones of security.

Outer Layer of Security.  The outer layer of security would be comprised of walls and fences, trees and shrubs, dogs, and warning signs.

Inner Layer of Security.  The inner layer of security would be comprised of bars and grills for windows, shutters, drapes and blinds, lighting, motion detectors, dogs, cameras, optical viewers and intercoms for doors, door and window alarms, and other security systems.

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Exterior L
ighting.  Outdoor lighting for the home and surrounding area is important in reducing crime and increasing personal safety.  Criminals prefer to operate in the dark and not be seen.  Proper lighting at entrances of your home will discourage criminals.  Turn on lights after dark to light up porches, entrances, and garage areas.  Timers, motion detectors, and light-sensitive photocells should be integrated in your home security lighting system.  You want your home to have the "occupied look" in order to deter criminals.  All potential entry points such as garage, doors, windows, and basement entry-ways should be illuminated.

Keys and Locks.  When moving into a new home or apartment, ensure you have the locks changed out by a locksmith.  Don't hide keys in mailboxes, under door mats, or any other place that burglars will know to look.  Leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor.  For more information on locks and locksmiths click here.

Locks for Doors.  All external doors should have sturdy deadbolt locks.  These should have at least a 1 1/2" bolt.  Door locks should have reinforce frames to support them.  The standard door and door lock can be easily "kicked in" or breached with standard hardware store tools.  Screws holding a strike plate should extend 3" or longer into the wall stud.

Sliding Glass Doors.  These should be secured with locks (commercially available).  Use a broom stick or wooden dowel in the bottom track to secure the door from opening.  You can drill a hole in the sliding door frame and into the fixed frame in order to insert a pin to secure the sliding glass door.  Patio doors can be easily lifted out of their sliding tracks - so holes and pin inserts should be drilled to prevent this vulnerability.

Doors.  All exterior doors should be metal or solid wood.  The doors should have the hinge pins on the inside.  A peep-hole or door viewer should be in the door so you can see who is knocking at the door without opening the door.

Double-Hung Windows.  These type windows should be secured by sliding a bolt through a hole drilled into the sashes of the two windows.  The bolt should be able to slide out freely in case the window has to be used as a fire exit.

Landscaping.  Shrubs should be trimmed so as not to hide doors or windows.  Keep shrubs low so criminals cannot hide behind them.

Fences.  Fences will provide a measure of security but sometimes they hinder security.  A fence will force a criminal to scale it - thereby alerting anyone else observing this act as viewing it suspiciously.  Fences will provide a "psychological barrier" to some would-be criminals - meaning that the act of climbing over a fence will discourage some folks from wandering into a yard.  However, in general, fences will deter some and slow down others; they will not stop a determined criminal.  In addition, depending on the type of fence, they have been known to aid the criminal.  A high wooden fence that cannot be seen through will provide a degree of privacy to a criminal; however it can also shield a criminals actions once he is inside the fence line.  A wooden picket fence or chain-link fence establishes a psychological security perimeter yet still allows neighbors to observe what is going on in your yard inside the fence line.

Warning signs.  Warning signs on your lawn or mounted on your fence or gate can announce the presence of a dog or an alarm system.  You may not necessary have a dog or alarm system but in itself a warning sign is sometimes a deterrent.

Dogs.  Dogs are useful as a deterrent and alarm mechanism.  As we know, most dogs will bark when a stranger approaches.  Dogs can be useful outside in a fence yard as well as inside a house.

Security Systems.  One method of deterring crime is the installation of a security system in the home.  These systems can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars and can be installed by the home owner with products from Home Depot and other retail stores.  Or you can have a professional system installed by a security firm that would be tied into a central alarm station.  These security devices include motion detectors, door and window alarms, cameras, and access control systems.  These systems when activated can provide local audio (horns, sirens, buzzers, etc.) and visual alarms (flashing lights).  In addition, the central alarm station can have instructions to call the home phone number and/or alert the local police or security guard patrol service to respond to the alarm.  To find out more click on Security Systems.

Biometric Access Control Systems for the Home.  Some more advanced (and more expensive) home systems will incorporate biometric access controls for the home.  While not common now, we will surely see more of it in the future.  The most common application will be the fingerprint scan that will be verified against a stored fingerprint image.  If a match is made then entry is facilitated.  Biometric access controls systems will also incorporate voice, retinal, hand print, and other similar technologies.  More information is available on biometric security control systems here.

Identity Theft.  An aspect of home security seldom thought about is identity theft.  Protecting your financial well-being starts in your home.  You shouldn't be throwing away old bills, bank statements, solicitations for credit cards, and other revealing personal information into the rubbish or trash.  Invest in a paper shredder to shred these no longer necessary but revealing personal papers.  They can be bought at OfficeMax, Staples and other paper shredder suppliers.   Click here for more information on home office Paper Shredders.  Click here for more information on Identity Theft.

Record, Photograph, Mark, and Insure Your Valuables.  Place identifying marks on your valuables - such as a drivers license number.  This will reduce the value on the black market and may lead to recover down the road.  Take photographs of high-value items such as artwork and jewelry - this will aid in substantiating insurance claims.

Fire Prevention.  Your home security plan should incorporate fire prevention measures.  For more information on this subject visit our Fire page.

Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Watch.  You should consider the establishment of a neighborhood watch program.  The local police department will help you set one up.  In addition, local, state, and national non-profit organizations will help you in this regard. Click here for more information on neighborhood crime prevention.

Books on Security and Safety.  There are many books published on security and safety that are available.  Click here to visit our "Books on Security and Safety" page; many of these books will address or have a chapter on "Home Security".  Our main "Home Security" page also has several books displayed that could be useful.  We also have a page called "Books on Security for Women".

Firearms in the Home.  There are many people who believe that firearms in the home can improve security for their family.  There are others who see these weapons as dangerous to families; especially when around children or in homes where domestic violence occurs.  Find out the facts by visiting our "Firearms" page.


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