Can you leave your house or sleep without any worries? Is your current home security measures effective? Danger creeps in without any notice. Securing your home is very important, and it won’t do to take a passive stance on this matter. To keep yourself and your belongings safe, the need to consider home security arises.
Various methods can prevent intruders from accessing our homes, yet there is no guarantee that we will be safe despite all the precautions. When you think about it carefully, would you leave your doors and windows unlocked and open? Or would you take all the protection you can get within your budget?
The first step
The first step in securing your home is by checking the current status of your home security situation.
Examine if the security system you have in place is outdated. Check if it needs to be changed, or is lacking. Doing this first step will help you determine what kind of security changes or upgrades that your house needs. Intruders are smarter these days, and we need to stay proactive in keeping our family and homes safe.
Minor improvements you can do around your house
Minor home upgrades can keep us safe from intruders. This section covers the security features that we commonly have in our homes, and how we can use it to their full potential.
1. Using locks on entry points and storage
Home lock options can be door locks, window locks, smart locks, and more. Locks have been around since ancient times. And we are now at the age where we have locks that don’t require keys to operate.
Different Kinds of Locks You Can Use Around the House
a. Door Locks
There are many forms of door locks that you can choose. The most common type is the doorknob lock, where the lock cylinder or keyhole is in the knob itself. The only problem with this kind of lock is that it can break when brute force is applied.
Consider getting a supporting set of locks that will make you feel more at ease and protected. Adding a deadbolt, a chain lock, a mortise lock, an electronic lock, or even a biometric lock are excellent support choices. It is also better to mix the use of these locks instead of relying on a single type of lock.
QUICK TIP: Don’t Choose a Double Cylinder Deadbolt
This type of deadbolt can be a fire hazard. A double cylinder deadbolt requires a key for entering and exiting the house. In case of fire, this can hinder you from getting out fast enough for safety. If you wish to use a deadbolt for your doors, choose a single cylinder deadbolt with a twist knob on the other side. One of the best options for deadbolts is the Kwikset Contemporary Electronic Keypad, which also doubles as an electronic lock.
b. Window Locks
Intruders wouldn’t likely risk breaking the window because it will call attention. While windows come with their locks, it would give you better peace of mind to have a second set of locks for your windows. You can opt to add sash locks, security lock bars, or DIY pin locks as an inexpensive solution. Just remember that before choosing locks for the window, check the type of window that you have in your home to identify what kind of lock will work best for it.
QUICK TIP: Moving to a New Home
Whenever you move into a new place, change the locks of your new home. It can seem bothersome to do, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember to install new locks correctly. A poorly installed lock can still snap even if it is of high quality.
c. Padlocks for Shed or Storage Unit Doors
A padlock can be small or big, depending on how you use it. Hardened steel and stainless steel are the material mostly used to create locks. But it can still be broken using various tools. Instead of getting the usual U-shaped bar padlock, choose a circular one like the Master Lock 40DPF. This type is a sturdier choice than the regular kind.
2. Reinforce the doors and windows
There are different ways to break-in through doors that even the most durable of doors will show its weakness. These weak points are lock, jamb, and hinges. The same goes for your windows, with the use of tools, they can get into the house in less than a minute. Make it difficult for intruders to invade your home with reinforced doors and windows.
Using door shields (for the hinge, jamb, and door lock), door brace, security bar, reinforcement locks like EverPlus Door Reinforcement Lock, and protective covers for lock hardware like Flip guard, are the best reinforcement for doors. Safety studs, fast-riveted pins, and set screws for the hinges can help reinforce it better. And replacing screws on the strike plate with 3-inch screws can make it more secure to the door jamb.
One important thing to remember when reinforcing doors is that you should not forget to include the backdoor, sliding doors, and other entry points in your home.
Aside from using secondary locks and security bars on windows, installing security window films is an affordable way to support this. These films can reinforce the resistance of the windows against impact. Upon impact, instead of sending the glass shards all over, this can also prevent further damage. One of the best kinds in the market is the BDF S8MC Window Film.
3. Install a safety door
Safety doors can be in the form of a grill door, screen door, glass door, wooden shutters, or a combination of those. It does not necessarily have to be a push-or-pull door. You can have one that is in the form of sliding doors or even folding doors. Having a safety door installed to your existing one adds another layer of protection to your home.
4. Get a free home security inspection
The local police department offers a free home security inspection in some areas. During a security inspection, the police will check any weaknesses in the security of your house. Then, they will offer advice on how to improve it. This checkup will help prevent the occurrence of burglary and other crimes. You can check further information on this by contacting your local police department.
5. Finish your home maintenance projects
Set aside some time for finishing home maintenance projects. These projects can be checking your locks if it needs an upgrade, changing alarm batteries, lawn or landscape maintenance, or organizing all your home equipment and tools. Any unfinished maintenance projects can cost you and your family’s safety. By completing these projects, you wouldn’t end up thinking “if only I did this or that, this wouldn’t happen” in case of an emergency. With a well-maintained house, you will start feeling more secure.
QUICK TIP: Tidy Outside your House
Don’t let your lawn and landscape overgrow. Keeping things tidy helps limit the areas that an intruder can hide. If you want to grow more plants, consider planting thorny plants near the windows or behind fences to slow down intruders. Also, make sure that no tools, such as ladders, are lying around. Unkept tools are taken advantage of by wrongdoers to break into your house.
Upgrades for even better security
Home security has further developed to be reliable with the use of modern technology. This development can aid in deterring intruders from breaking in. In this section, we will focus on the various equipment and upgrades that you should consider adding to your house.
1. Consider getting a complete home security system
A security system can bump your home defense level to another notch. You have a choice between a wired or wireless arrangement that mainly consists of a control panel, sensors, security cameras, alarm, and signs or stickers.
Unlike popular belief, getting a home security system doesn’t need to be too expensive. There are budget-friendly options that are easy to set-up on your own, like the Camera Kit or Doorbell Kit of Ring Alarm Security System. Once you can afford it, you can get other security equipment and monitoring service that your system still requires.
If you can set aside some extra budget for home security monitoring, you can choose to have a professionally installed security system with monitoring services. The prices will vary depending on the service features that you wish to get.
QUICK TIP: Security Signs and Stickers
Purchasing home security systems usually include security signs and stickers. Putting these up around the house is a simple method that can discourage burglars from entering your property.
If you are hesitant to get a complete home security system, then read on and consider other specific security options that you might find more appealing.
2. Improve your security with alarms and sensors
Sensors and alarms work together to identify and alert you of any property intrusion. If you are okay without security cameras, you can choose to have a home security system with only the control panel and these two kinds of equipment.
REMINDER: Alarm Permit or License
Before getting an alarm system, check first with your city if a permit or license is required. Some city counts it as an offense if you don’t get one. The main advantage of getting a permit or license is that it makes it easier and faster to get a response from the local police department in case of emergencies.
Different Kinds of Alarms and Sensors
There are different options for detectors that you can consider depending on the expanse and type of your house.
a. Door & Window Sensors
Door sensors and window sensors work with the use of magnetic switches that has two components. Each component either goes on the frame and the other on the door or window itself. It goes side-by-side. Once it’s separated, it will set off the alarm. An example of this sensor is the GE Window/Door Alarm.
b. Glass Break Sensors
A glass break sensor can either be an acoustic or shock type. The acoustic type of sensor sounds the alarm when it detects the sound of a glass breaking, while the shock type sets off if there’s a shock on the window. And this is placed near the windows or on the glass window itself.
One of the issues in having a glass break sensor is the occurrence of false alarms. Such alarm may occur when a glass or a vase accidentally breaks near the sensor. While there are drawbacks to having a glass break sensor, it can still serve as another line of defense for your home. Remember to set the sensitivity properly before activating.
c. Motion Sensors
A motion sensor can detect the presence of an intruder and alert you through a control panel, smartphone, or it could set off the alarm. It can work multiple ways, depending on the product. And you can place it inside or outside your house.
Motion can be detected through body heat, by the measurement of the moving object’s reflection, or both. Detection through body heat works with a passive infrared type of sensor, while a microwave sensor uses electromagnetic radiation. A combination of two is called dual technology motion sensors, which can help reduce the occurrence of false alarms.
There are other methods to detect motion like the area reflective type and using radio waves (tomographic motion detector). For more information on the various types and features of a motion sensor, The Beginner’s Guide to Motion Sensors by Kasey Tross is a great way to start learning these.
To save money on outside motion sensors, products that double as floodlights or those that are powered by solar energy are some of the best alternatives.
d. Driveway Sensors
Driveway sensors are motion detectors that can work using infrared or photo beams, magnetic probes, or rubber hose sensors. When linked to an existing home security system, it can activate an outside camera into action instead of triggering the alarm.
It would be best to have a solar-powered driveway sensor since it is typically placed from a distance of the house or on the road. This type will only require minimal maintenance, and it’s weather-resistant. An excellent example of this is the eMACROS Driveway Alarm. It can alert you with a light or sound alarm when a pedestrian or vehicle is within a 30-feet radius of the sensor.
It is worth investing in if you live in a rural area, or if you have a long driveway. Having one can act as your first line of defense against intruders.
e. Garage Door Sensors
The garage can be an entry point to your house. Make a regular habit of keeping both the garage and connecting door locked. A garage door safety sensor is common amongst homeowners, but having a detector for security purposes has been overlooked most of the time. Investing in a garage door security sensor can help you minimize the risk of having an intruder.
3. Invest in security cameras
A home security system can include security cameras, or you can opt to install these on your own. The cameras can work as a prevention for burglary, and the recordings can be used as a piece of evidence to catch culprits. The best locations to place it are in the areas where it can record quality security footage of the entryways and the first-floor windows.
Some of the best smart options that we like so far are the Blink XT2 and Arlo Pro 3, which works for both indoor and outdoor.
4. Build or upgrade the fence
If you don’t have a fence around your house, then it’s time to build one. Consider these four main features when installing or upgrading property fences.
a. Does it offer any hiding places?
Fences should not block your view of the street or road, and it must be see-through. This feature limits the places an intruder can hide, and it lets you see if someone is lurking around the house.
b. Is it hard to climb?
A hard-to-climb fence must be tall and provides no footholds (these include trees beside it). The top part should have spikes or spear tops to make any intruders think twice about climbing over.
c. Does it have sufficient security locks?
Fence locks can be in the form of a padlock, latches, or automatic lock. Heavy-duty gates is another consideration to increase the level of home security.
d. Can it be bypassed?
Unsecure fences can be cut using a bolt cutter and provides gaps that will be taken advantage of by an intruder. The material should be made of thick steel to make it harder to cut. While relocating bushes or going around a tree, to build one, can avoid creating leeways. Securing the fence to concrete will also prevent it from being pulled up, resolving the issue of any underneath gaps.
While these features are the most ideal for fence security, it must adhere to the local ordinance and regulations of your city and the HOA (Homeowners Association) before you build or upgrade a fence.
5. Consider changing to light automation
A light that automatically operates when it detects motion or one that turns on once it’s dark and turns off by sunrise can be used to trick a potential intruder. With the correct settings, having an automatic porch light or motion light sensor can make outsiders think that someone’s home even when you’re away. Taking advantage of this technology provides convenience and an additional form of security.
6. Use your smart speaker as an additional security
Smart speakers have numerous features that make life more fun and convenient. What most people don’t know is that it can be a form of security. Using it to create sounds similar to the sound of the TV or people talking can give outsiders the impression that someone is home. And in case of emergencies, you can immediately contact emergency services using a voice assistant.
Getting a smart speaker comes with a voice assistant like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Choosing one mainly depends on which voice assistant you prefer.
7. Upgrade your old doorbell to a smart doorbell
The smart doorbell is a modern and advanced approach to the use of peepholes. It allows you to see who’s at the gate or door from a control panel or on your phone, and it can be a one-way or two-way communication device at the same time.
If you already have a home security system, it would be best to get a smart doorbell that works great with the existing system. But if you are considering other options, the eufy Security Video Doorbell should make it to your list of top smart doorbell contenders.
8. Find a new best friend
Always wanted a dog? Getting one can be a great addition to your home and safety. There are numerous reports and stories of dogs who have saved their owners’ lives on various occasions, including from a home invasion.
Having a dog of your preference is a big joy and aid for your safety. If you plan to have a dog mainly for security reasons, check first what level of protection do you need. Knowing this will help you choose your new best friend’s breed that works best for you and your family.
Secure your internet habits
Other smart options are worth considering to protect our homes. At the same time, we must be wise about how we use and manage the technology we have in our hands.
The use of a public social media account comes with a lot of security threats. Remember to set your account in private if it is not for work or professional use.
With the current technology, it is easy to recreate your keys with just an image of it. It is crucial to be wary of easy-access services that let people recreate it. Keeping this in mind, never post pictures of your keys online.
One of the most overlooked security threats that people make is updating their social media on their current location. Letting people know when you’re away from home compromises the safety of your home, and it can increase the likelihood of having break-in when you’re away. While it is fun to have an on the dot update, it is safer to post late updates of your activities or disabling geotagging.
If you have young kids, or grandparents who use social media, make sure to teach them about safe social networking.
2. Strengthen your internet safety and security
Accessing the internet has its perks and disadvantages. Being mindful of our online actions and security can help us stay safe. You don’t need to turn off the internet to be safe. There are various ways to make it safe for you and your family.
You can secure a home wireless network with a strong password, firewall, and by enabling wireless encryption to hide it from strangers. Another way is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to secure your connection to the internet, whether it’s at home or a public Wi-Fi. The only downside to having a VPN is that it can slow your internet connection.
3. Use unique passwords on accounts, devices, and your smart home
Your online security is easily jeopardized because of your password, even if you are not sharing your personal information online. Never rely on a single password for all of your accounts or devices. It must be unique for each login and device. The characteristics of a secure password are:
- It should be at least 12 characters long. The longer it is, the better.
- It should use a mix of uppercase & lowercase letters, with numbers and symbols.
- It doesn’t conform to a pattern or sequence.
- It doesn’t use leetspeak or substitute letters for its number or symbol substitute (i.e., A=@, S=5=$).
- It doesn’t include any information that is related to you (name, birthday, address, phone number, etc.).
Remind everyone at home to never give out sensitive information to other people, even minor information that may clue other people in your password.
4. Consider using security mobile applications
There are various applications that you can use for security purposes. Home security-related apps can either be proprietary or universal.
Proprietary apps refer to apps from home monitoring companies. Usage of their app depends if you availed that company’s monitoring service or not. Examples of this are the ADT Control App and SimpliSafe Home Security App. While universal apps (a.k.a. third-party apps) can be accessed by anyone who did their home security on their own since it is not limited to a specific home monitoring company. An example of this is Alarm.com.
QUICK TIP: Turn old smartphones into a security camera
You can use your old smartphones as a security camera by installing a useful app like Alfred Home Security Camera. This app is available in both Google Play and the App Store. Keep in mind that phones are not waterproof, so placing it outside can destroy it.
One of the coolest apps that you should consider having on your phone is the IFTTT (If This, Then That) app. It can work with other apps (Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), digital voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana), and smart home devices to automate tasks. There are various uses for this app, and it can also be applied as a security app to help you get better control over most of your security devices.
QUICK TIP: Panic Button
With the IFTTT app, you can create a panic button that you can use in case of emergencies. You can set it up to turn on the siren, set-off the alarm, call for help, or any action that can help you keep safe in case of a break-in. Panic buttons can also serve for medical safety. The panic button can be purchased online, or you can DIY.
Security and safety tips for the entire household
1. Don’t open the door without checking
The first thing you must do when someone knocks on your front door is to carefully think if you’re expecting anyone to visit that day. When uncertain, it is imperative to make sure who’s knocking first before opening the door for them. You can check by looking through a peephole, window, or by using a smart doorbell if you have one.
Do not answer the door if you are unsure of the person on the other side. Never hesitate to call for the police if you feel threatened or placed in danger.
If the person claims to be a police officer, check for their identification like a police badge and ID. If you are suspicious, you should call the police to prove the person’s identity. If its someone who claims from a specific company, look up the company first and their contact number. Never rely on the number provided to you by the visitor, since the person on the line could be an accomplice.
In case someone knocks on your door to ask for help, tell them to wait outside while you contact someone for help. It may seem cold to do so, but it is best to stay cautious.
If you have kids with you, teach them how to answer the door.
Remember that even people you know can still pose the same danger. Only open the door for someone whom you completely trust. Even if you expect someone to come by to do repairs, it would be best to remain wary.
2. Don’t forget to…
There are small tasks that we must do to keep us secured throughout the day. It may seem small at first, but these tasks keep us at peace from harm. Here are some of those tasks:
- Keep the blinds or curtains shut at night.
- Lock everything up and activate the alarms and sensors before leaving the house or going to sleep.
- When going out, keep your keys and garage doors openers within your person whenever you go out. Never leave it on your car, and risk having it stolen on top of having a car break-in.
- Keep any valuables far from the window.
- Don’t keep your spare keys in places like under the mat/pot or mailbox. There are smarter ways to hide them, like in a fake sprinkler head or a fake rock.
- Keep your tools in their proper storage after use.
- Don’t let mails and newspapers pile up. When you’re away, ask your trusted neighbor or family to pick up your mail for you, and temporarily cancel any subscriptions.
3. Always check your valuables and entry points after workers leave
There are cases where one-time visitors are burglars who steal valuables or scopes houses using day jobs as a cover. They ensure that entryways are easier to unlock and break-in when the owner is away or asleep. Make it a habit to check the doors, windows, and any other entry point to your house once workers leave.
Prepare yourselves for any intrusion
There are times that intruders make it into our house. In case of intrusion, we should all be prepared to take action.
1. Reminders for those with weapon
Don’t accidentally hurt yourself with your weapon or have it used against you. Use it properly and keep it away from children by putting your armament in a safe. Remember to take the time to learn how to use it if you choose to get one.
2. Join a neighborhood watch
A neighborhood watch works well in reducing crime within a close neighborhood. It is a good idea to join in to have neighbors watch each others’ back. In case of emergencies, the response tends to be faster than the actual police, especially if it is closer.
3. Ensure that your address number is visible outside
Making sure that the number is visible outside will be easier for local authorities to locate your house. It will save them time from looking around, and they can respond faster on your call for help.
4. Get a safe and a burglar decoy
Choose a safe that can be bolted down to the concrete to give the burglars a hard time taking the whole safe. While the safe is recognizable, try to set it up on locations that can be overlooked, like the attic, basement, or broom closet.
Most intruders are in a rush, and they would likely grab the first expensive-looking item that they will find. Set up a decoy for the burglar to grab in case of a break-in. The best places to “hide” one are in areas like the living room, bedroom, or dining room.
It is better to have both safe and burglar decoy to lessen the likelihood of having your real valuables stolen. If you don’t have the budget for a safe, hide your valuables in a plain-looking box, a hollow book safe, a hairbrush, or even a lint roller.