A thorough guide on securing your home.
Keeping your home safe is a priority for everyone. We all go through the nightly ritual of double-checking that all of the doors are locked. But sometimes, a little more is needed. Especially if you have ever been the victim of a burglary. You will want to have some extra protection.
Security systems and cameras do not have to be super hi-tech. A doorbell camera can be all you need for some peace of mind. Or an alarm that you can easily control. This will give you some additional assurance.
To help you find the best way to stay safe, here is the ultimate guide to securing your home. Not every single option suggested in this guide is necessary. But it’s worth considering. Especially if you feel as though your home could use some extra security measures.
Why It’s Important to Secure Your Home
Securing your home is essential. The chances of your home being broken into aren’t particularly high. In fact, home invasions have been declining in recent years. But, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. People often talk about the days when you could leave your front door unlocked. Or consider their neighborhoods to be a safe place where they can leave doors open. Especially if they have children running around and in and out of the yard.
But, this isn’t the most sensible option. People will always take a chance. If you have windows and doors unlocked and your home is invaded, then there’s a chance that your insurance won’t pay. Even during the daytime while you are home. In fact, the majority of break-ins happen during the daytime. So it’s important to have your home secured at all times.
Using technology such as cameras and alarms can also help when it comes to insurance. Or speaking with the police. It can be used as evidence to catch those who broke into the property. As well as legitimize your claim that you were robbed. So the insurance process should be much easier. As they won’t have to spend as much time investigating whether you are making a real claim, or if you just want to make some money.
DIY Securing Your Home
Before you invest in any kind of expensive technology, it’s important to have the essentials sorted out. If you don’t have secure locks on your windows and doors, then a doorbell camera isn’t going to do much to help you.
Here are some ways in which you can make your home safer yourself. From the most simple actions such as locking your front door. To more complex and hi-tech options such as security systems.
Secure/Lock Your Doors
Locking all of your doors is simple. But you need to secure them as well. This includes considering how all of your doors are attached. Depending on the age and quality of your building, your door might be easy to break in. This can be because the door has been attached with short nails. Or because the lock is easy to pick.
Make sure to check over your door. Or get a professional to do it. If the door is nailed on with relatively short nails, replace them with large, long, and heavier nails. This is a very simple swap. But it will make it much more difficult to kick the door in. This might not stop the door from being broken entirely. But it can deter the potential thief if the door is too difficult to open.
It will also give you time to realize what is going on and ring the police. Even if the person trying to get in gives up on your home. There is a likelihood that they will just move on to the next. So it’s still worth calling the police.
Secure The Windows
Doors are obvious and easy to remember. But we have all forgotten about windows before. Especially that one tiny window in your bathroom that you always leave open. Even if you think a window is too small for someone to climb through, it’s important to shut it and lock it.
This is because an opening in a window will make it easier to break the surrounding space. Especially if the opening is only part of the window. For example, if you have a window that only has an opening at the top, leaving the top open reduces the resistance of the window as a whole. So someone will find it much easier to smash the entire window. It is simply not worth the risk.
Another way to secure windows is to invest in safety glass. This is designed to protect homeowners from hurting themselves should the window get broken. But it can also help deter a home invasion. Depending on the style you chose, safety glass will shatter but stay within the window frame. If you have double or triple glazing, then only one layer will break. This will make breaking in a lot more difficult. Which can cause the thief to move on.
Consider Getting A Dog
Dogs are incredibly territorial. Whether you decide to buy or adopt a chihuahua or a Rottweiler. They will bark until they are hoarse if they think someone is trying to invade their territory.
Your dog doesn’t even need to be scary or aggressive. They just need to be loud enough to scare off a potential intruder. As they will alert you to the fact that someone is on the property. This can be irritating if they bark at every person who dares to walk along the sidewalk near your home. But it will be worth it in the long run.
Having a dog will also make you feel safer. Especially if you live alone. You will feel much calmer with a companion. Especially one that will defend you and alert you to any potential dangers without even thinking about it.
Consider Building A Fence Around Your House
If you live in a built-up area, this might not be an option. But it’s a good idea if you live in a suburb or somewhere with a high crime rate. A fence might not seem like a hi-tech defense system. But it will likely make any potential intruder feel as though it’s not worth it.
This is an especially good idea if you live in a rural area and have a home that backs onto fields or woodland. It might seem strange to erect a fence or a wall in a random field. (And it’s important to double-check where exactly your property lines are.) But it will deter any potential intruders who think that a rural home in the middle of nowhere is easy pickings.
A fence can also contain a gate. Which can also contain a camera and an intercom. So getting a fence means that you can keep adding further security features if they feel necessary.
Secure The Garage
This is another easy one to forget. Garages aren’t designed for living in. So they don’t require the same kind of security as the rest of the home. But this means that intruders will have an easier time getting into the house through the garage.
So, even if you have shut the garage door, make sure that you have also shut the door connecting the garage and the main home. This will provide you with an extra layer of security. (On a side note, shutting this door will also stop you from losing heat into the garage.)
If you keep valuables in the garage, such as your car, then it’s even more important to ensure that your garage is secure. This means checking how heavy and secure the garage door is. As it folds open and is often made from thin metal, a garage door can be easily opened. Especially if it is designed to fold up. Rather than slide along the ceiling.
That said, those kinds of doors are also easier to break into than a standard front door. So it’s worth checking if there are any gaps around the edges. These can easily have a crowbar slid into which can force the door open.
Hide Your Spare Key Outside Properly
Whatever you do, do not hide a spare key until a doormat or a plant pot. Even if someone has never robbed a property before, they will check to see if there is a spare key lying around. This has been shown in so many different films and TV shows that it is standard.
If an intruder uses a key, then they will have an easier time getting into the property. So proving that you have been burgled will be more difficult, as there will be no signs of forced entry.
Keeping a spare key to your home is a good idea. Just don’t make it obvious. Investing in a key safe is a great idea. These are protected with a code. And can be installed wherever you like. They are small boxes that can be attached to a wall. So won’t be huge and unsightly.
Keeping the key outside your home and in a safe is a good idea if you have children who get home before you. Or if you have a guest visiting. But they are also useful if you are robbed. If you have spare keys in the house, you likely won’t feel as though they need to be kept hidden. However, if someone comes into your home with the intention of stealing, they might take the keys to make it easier to come back again. Especially if they didn’t take very much.
Keep Your Valuables Out Of Sight
When we think of valuables, we all likely see a lot of different items. For some people, it will be jewelry. Whereas for others it can be tech and expensive devices. Both of these need to be kept out of sight.
For very expensive items that aren’t used regularly, such as jewelry, a safe is a good option. Even a small safe, such as the kind you would find in a hotel, is a good idea. This will stop any thieves as they will try to be as quick as possible.
When it comes to devices such as laptops and cellphones, you need to act differently. Keeping these in a safe is just not practical. But, they should not be left lying around. Especially not near a window.
Thieves will often case a property before deciding to rob it. So, if they regularly see laptops and other devices left unattended, then they will know that they are easy pickings. Especially if they are near a window. As this makes them easier to grab when breaking in.
Consider Making The Porch Lights Automatic
This is a really simple option. Having an automatic porch light will make your life easier in so many ways. Most of the time, it will just provide you with automatic light when you come home in the dark. Which can make you feel safer. And this is just practical, so you can find the lock to open your door.
Automatic lights will also deter any potential intruders. You don’t need large dramatic floodlights. (However, this should be a consideration if you live in a very large house or are surrounded by a lot of empty fields or woodland areas.) A simple light will spook any potential intruder. As well as alert you to the fact that someone is outside.
These are also great in combination with a doorbell camera. Doorbell cameras usually can record during the night. However, they don’t always provide the best quality image. So it will be difficult to identify the person. This won’t be the case with a porch light.
Automatic porch lights can be pretty sensitive. So they might come on due to an animal or person passing by. Especially if your door is close to the street. This is another reason to pair it with a doorbell cam or a peephole. So you will be able to see what’s going on. And the risk of a false alarm is much better than having someone break into your home.
Automatic lights are especially great if you’re away from your home often. As the intruder likely won’t know if the lights are automatic. So they might think that someone is home and be deterred.
Install A Peephole
This is a really simple option. A lot of front doors will come with a peephole. However, if yours does not already have one, you can easily drill a hole in the door and install one. That said, some doors are made from PVC or similar materials that are difficult to drill through. So it’s worth asking a professional to install it.
A peephole allows you to see out into your front yard, without anyone knowing that you’re looking. This is the more traditional version of a doorbell camera. So, whenever someone is at your door, you can quickly check to see if you know them. Very few people will show up unannounced nowadays, so it’s worth double-checking.
Peepholes can also help you to see if someone is outside without them seeing you. For example, if your automatic porch light goes off, looking out the window will show that you are there. With a peephole, you can see them, but they can’t see you. This is the absolute easiest option on this list. So, if you don’t choose any other option, at the very least get yourself a peephole.
Shut Your Blinds In The Evening
This is a similar one to keeping your valuables out of sight. But it also shows that you are at home. If you are away, then you would have your blinds or curtains open during the night, as no one would be there to close them.
This is one reason why having blinds or mesh as well as curtains is a good idea. If you spend time away from your home a lot, then it will become obvious when you’re not there. But, if you have blinds blocking the view from outside, then potential intruders won’t be able to tell when you are home or away.
A similar option is to invest in a light timer. This is a super easy piece of technology that will turn your lights off and on at random. Even if it’s just a single lamp. This will give the illusion that someone is in the building. This is ideal for going away on vacation.
Install Security Cameras
Security cameras are great for keeping an eye on who might be hanging about your property. But they are also an excellent deterrent. People are far less likely to commit a crime if they notice a security camera. And, if they still commit the crime, you will have a recording of them doing it.
There are specific laws around installing security cameras. So it’s important to check the laws and guidelines in your state. For most areas, you cannot have the camera pointed directly at someone else’s home. And in some areas, you will need to display a sign to say that there is CCTV in operation. So, if you’re hoping to catch someone without them knowing, this might not be a legal option. Then, should you catch them committing a crime on the camera, you might not be legally allowed to use the footage.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on an expensive camera, you can install a dummy. Fake security cameras are very realistic. Some can even have a red LED light installed that will give the appearance of recording. If this is installed in an obvious place, it will very likely deter any potential intruders. They will not be able to tell whether it is real or not.
If you are concerned about safety in your area, make sure to install the camera up high. As, if it is within reach of the average adult, then it can be tampered with or pulled down. A camera that is higher up will also be able to capture a wider area. So you will potentially be able to record the street or surrounding areas, as well as your property. However, as mentioned above, it’s important to ensure that your camera does not infringe on anyone else’s right to privacy.
Consider Installing Motion Detector Lighting
An automatic porch light is a great idea. But having motion detector lighting around your property should also be a consideration. Especially if you live in a rural area. Or have multiple entrances to your home.
Automatic lighting should be installed at every entrance to your home. But you can also install motion detector lighting at the front gate. Or around the edges of your property. It can be spaced out along a boundary line fence. So you will be alerted if someone has walked onto your land or property.
This can also help if you have a problem with animals wandering around on your property. Or if people often accidentally wander on your property without realizing that they are no longer in a public space. This is a common problem in rural areas.
Motion sensor lighting will also be helpful if installed near your garage or drive. This will help if someone has no interest in your home, but is instead trying to steal or access your car or other vehicles.
Consider Setting Up a Home Security System
Home security systems don’t have to be anything too complex. They can simply be a series of cameras and alarms that are all controlled by one device. This is ideal if you have multiple entrances to your home.
You will be able to set up multiple small cameras. All of which will be connected. Home security systems can be a little complicated. And, depending on the complexity of the style you choose, can get pretty expensive.
But, it is possible to find good quality security systems for only a little more than a single security camera. So it’s worth considering. Especially if you have several different areas around your property that you want to secure.
Consider Getting A Safe
If you have a lot of valuable items, then a safe is a really important item to own. Especially if you have expensive jewelry, watches, or devices. Having a safe is great for peace of mind. And a lot of safes are now pretty hi-tech. So it will be next to impossible to break into.
Safes might seem like items only the super-rich need to own. But if you have anything that you consider to be valuable, then a safe is a good idea. Even if it only contains passports and important documents. These are items that some thieves might consider stealing. Even if they don’t get stolen, there is a chance that they can become damaged during a home invasion. So it’s worth keeping them in a safe.
A safe doesn’t need to be a big item. You can easily buy one for under $50. These can be kept in a closet or a drawer. So you won’t have to worry about making space for a huge safe like the kind you see in the movies.
Turn Your House Into A Smart Home
Smart homes aren’t the norm just yet. But they are becoming increasingly popular. If you already have an Alexa or a Google Assistant, then you’re already halfway there. Having a smart home isn’t as complicated as it seems. And you won’t have to completely rewire your house.
Having a smart home means that you can control the lights, have multiple alarms, require key fobs to get in and out of the property, and control everything from a tablet or handheld device. This means that, should you believe someone is on your property, you can simply check the camera via your phone or tablet.
Turning your home into a smart home will also help you with other aspects of your life. It will allow you to control so many features, including lighting, heating, other devices, and your home security system, all from one device.
That said, it’s important to check out reviews before you choose which kind of devices you buy. As some have issues regarding privacy and data collection. This includes robot vacuum cleaners storing the layout of your home. From a security standpoint, this is not very safe. And puts you at greater risk.
Other Ways To Secure Your Home
The list above contains pretty much everything you can use to secure your home. However, there are a few, more minor, things that you can do. Before you invest in a complex digital security system.
- One of the simplest things to do is to change the locks. You won’t be able to do this when you rent somewhere. But, when you move into a new house, it’s a good idea to change the locks. This will prevent any previous owners from being able to access the property. They will need to hand over the keys to the property. But there is no guarantee that they will provide all of them.
- Another option is to add multiple locks to your doors. A chain is also a good idea. If you don’t want to, you can only use the main lock most of the time. But, when going to bed or away for the weekend, having multiple locks can be useful. And a chain will allow you to open the door slightly to see who is outside, without having to open the door fully.
- The simplest way to secure your home is to leave the keys in the lock on the inside. So, when you lock the door behind you, leave the keys in the door. This will stop anyone from picking the lock or unlocking the door. Even if they have a key for it. So, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of any of the main options above, this is something you don’t even need to think about. You also won’t have to pay any money nor install any complex systems in your home. This will stop anyone from entering your home with a key or pick.
- Another important thing is to remember is outbuildings, sheds, and garages. These are spaces which we don’t think about very often but contain a lot of valuables. These include cars, power tools, lawnmowers, and bikes. You might not think that these are items people will steal very often. But anything that can be resold is a valuable item. This is especially true of bikes. Which are stolen incredibly often. So make sure that your entire property is secure. This means adding proper locks to sheds, which usually only have an outside bolt. This is not enough.
Overall, it’s important to consider which of the options above will be best for your home. Every property is different. And every homeowner will have different priorities when it comes to securing their home.
Whether you live in the middle of a city or the middle of the country, making sure your home is locked up and safe is essential. Both to keep your valuables out of the hands of thieves, but also to keep you and your family safe.
Home invasions are decreasing. But they are still a possibility. Most of the options above will (hopefully) never really be needed. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having a camera to deter potential intruders will be much cheaper than having to replace all of your items. Especially if you find out that your insurance won’t cover them.
The most important thing to remember is that phrase, “better to be safe than sorry”. The vast majority of the options above are simple, affordable, and easy to install. So it’s worth it. Even just as a deterrent.