We all want a safe, secure abode for our loved ones, but in most cases, once that home security system is in place, most homeowners move on to other things, feeling at peace.
What you might not know, however, is that things are constantly changing, and thieves getting smarter by the day. And as such, you can never afford to let your guard down when it comes to securing your home.
After all, the only thing worse than not having a home security system in place is someone managing to rob your home while you have an expensive system installed.
So, what can one do to stay on top of their game, and a step ahead of the “bad guys” and accidents? Well, it’s all about ensuring you are covered on all sides, which is what this post is all about.
Without much ado, let’s dig right in and see what you could do or change to make your home a bit more secure than it already is. A quick reminder here, you can never confidently say your home is safe enough!
I have an old home security system, is it time to upgrade?
As we’ve mentioned, most homeowners tend to move on quite fast after installing a home security system, which is a bad idea!
Just as is the case with any other technology, these devices are improving in technology and performance, in fact, faster than you might think.
Right now, some, if not most modern systems allow you to arm and disarm them remotely from your Smartphone or a key-chain, even when you are miles away from home.
Some cameras now come with facial recognition capabilities, carbon monoxide detectors are getting smart enough such that they can automatically shut off the furnace when necessary.
If you’re still using old systems, it’s time to upgrade!
I am using an alarm system only, is my home fully covered?
Well, I hate being the one to break this disappointing news to you, but here’s the thing; alarm systems aren’t as reliable as you might have believed all along. That’s not to say your alarm system is obsolete.
However, a study conducted some years back confirmed conflicting results to the use of alarms, sometimes acting as an indication that there are valuables in the property, and loss of money due to authorities responding to false alarms.
Above all, police have been reported to be more likely to nab crooks in the act in homes without alarms.
Why? It’s simple; the reality is that with no alarms, law enforcement officers are alerted by eyewitnesses, which you’ll agree, is more reliable than with an alarm.
Let’s face it; with about 80 to 95 percent of responses to alarm turning out to be false alarms, it’s very likely that most law enforcement departments won’t take such cases as seriously as they would a 911 call.
And it gets even worse; did you know that in some cities you might even get fined for repeat false alarms?
If an alarm is to be satisfactorily convenient, it’s best when verified by a video or sound. But don’t panic just yet; if you have a monitored alarm, you could be better positioned to get assistance in most cases. It’s the respondent’s job anyway.
Must I always turn on my alarm system when leaving?
Unfortunately, most homeowners usually overlook this simple, yet crucial step when leaving the house.
If you have an alarm system in place, you need to make sure you always turn it on when leaving home (unless someone’s home at that particular time).
Even if you are going out on a quick errand and expect to be home in a matter of minutes, leaving your alarm off could give a thief that narrow, yet sufficient window of opportunity to rob a few things and leave.
And the same goes for any home security system you have in place that you can enable or disable.
How can I choose a good home security provider?
By now you know just how important a home security system is, and getting a provider sounds like the best way forward. But wait, you also need to make sure not to go for just any provider that pops up first on your radar.
A bit of scrutiny could go a long way here if you are to get the ultimate value for your money. It’s important to be on the lookout for these aspects to be certain that your provider of choice can respond promptly in an emergency.
- Make sure they have been in the business long enough, preferably at least 10 years and with modern equipment.
- Also, check the track record to see what others have to say as far as performance and customer service go.
- Distance is also of the essence here, so factor in how far the monitoring location is from your home. Freshome.com recommends a maximum distance of 250 miles, as the farther away the monitoring location is, the longer the alarm takes to relay, and this could mean delayed response time.
And while you’re at it, make sure not to waste your money on contracts that lock you in. This is where it gets a bit tricky, as some companies make contracts difficult for you to cancel.
Others have auto-rollover terms that only allow you to cancel at certain windows, failure to which you’ll be stuck with the contract for 3 more years.
Then there are contracts that require you to clear the remainder in full in the instance you decide to opt-out before the end of your contract. Always be wary of such contracts, and make sure to read the T&Cs very keenly and not to believe everything the sales agents tell you without crosschecking for yourself.
Are additional home security contracts /services worth the money?
Still on providers and contracts, just keep in mind that once a provider gets one deal sealed, they will most likely offer you additional services and/or devices that could enhance your home’s security.
It’s a good thing overall, but the question you should ask yourself is whether these are going to add any significant value. Do you really need that extra device or service, will it only supplement another one you already have in place, or do you even need it at all? That’s for you to decide!
How can I secure my home against fire?
It’s easy to be worried about an intruder breaking into your home in the dead of the night, but sometimes, the real nemesis comes from within.
Fire can be any homeowner’s worst nightmare, but the only thing worse than a house on fire is getting caught by surprise – waking up to scorching flames all around you.
Well, there are a number of things you need to keep an eye out for to ensure you are safe from the destructive and sometimes deadly threat of one of the earliest man’s inventions.
- Smoke detectors are a good start if you want to stay on the safe side. And as we’ve mentioned above, smart devices could come in handy here. Most importantly, make sure to check that they are working, and replace the batteries as regularly as necessary.
- However, that’s not all; you should also be keen not to leave candles or other open flames unattended.
- Another usually underestimated risk when it comes to home fire threats is cigarette butts, you should also make sure to put them out completely before tossing them in the trash.
- Those dead leaves, dry tree twigs and grass on your yard also pose an unseen risk of fire. So keep cleaning them regularly.
- When building, it’s a good idea to use fire-resistant This could help keep the fire from spreading fast through several rooms in case it breaks out at any given room.
- Also, it’s a bad idea to leave pans and pots unattended on the stove when cooking or failing to fix faulty or leaking gas connections.
- Now, in the worst-case scenario, you need rescuers to locate your home with ease, so it’s advisable to ensure that the street address on your property is easily visible.
- On the same note, make sure you have an escape plan for your family in case a fire breaks out.
How can I secure my home on a budget?
As much as you would like to keep your loved ones and your valuables safe, the budget might not be on your side. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up on your quest to keep your home safe.
These simple, yet effective ways to secure your home could come to the rescue.
First, always lock the doors and keep the windows covered. Getting strong locks for both the front and back doors won’t have to cost you a fortune.
And the same goes for window coverings. What makes these measures so useful is that burglars don’t like having to struggle to gain entry into a house, as this increases their chance of being spotted.
Also, with the windows covered, it becomes difficult to tell if someone is in the house, which is the last thing a thief wants to take chances with.
But most importantly, your best bet is to ensure you always keep your doors and windows locked. Burglars sometimes just get lucky enough to find an unlocked entry and ransack a house, even with the owner in the backyard.
You can find more home security secrets here.
Count on man’s best friend!
They say a dog is man’s best friend, and for sure, most homeowners love having furry buddies around as pets. But while having a noisy dog could set you up for some serious confrontations with the neighbors, it helps keep burglars at bay.
A dog will alert you that someone is in the compound, thus creating attention, something criminals try to avoid at all costs. Besides, the barking of a dog inside your compound could be enough to scare off any intruder or dissuade them enough to consider moving on.
But when the worst comes to the worst, your dog could stand in a burglar’s way and take them on. And for many, facing a canine is not only dangerous but in most cases, it just isn’t worth it.
Put up a sign
This is more of a passive approach, but one that works great too. A security company sign right at the front of your property could all it takes to stop a burglar right on his tracks. According to different surveys, burglars have come out clean to state that they tend to avoid properties with alarms.
As such, letting a potential burglar know that your home has a security alarm (even when you don’t have one installed) could be enough to change their mind.
Be your neighbor’s keeper
Even with all the most sophisticated systems installed in your home, nothing could beat the concern that a watchful neighborhood would install in a thief. Thus, forming a neighborhood watch group could go a long way to keeping your hood safe from burglars.
Not only are residents vigilant enough to raise an alarm if they see a suspicious individual in the neighborhood, but they could also lead to the arrest of a burglar in the act by informing the authorities.
And just to put it out there, post a sign letting anyone audacious enough to try breaking into your home know that someone’s watching.
How can I secure my patio door?
Patio doors are a beautiful part of any home, but unfortunately, one of the weakest points where a thief could easily gain access to your house, although not many of them do.
However, just to be on the safe side, it’s always wise to secure this entry point as well with sheet metal screw installation on its upper rack and a piece of wood on the lower side. It’s important that you position the screws above the door to allow it to move, but their work is to prevent any efforts to lift the door off its rack.
On its side, the wood on its lower rack prevents the door from opening in case someone manages to jimmy its lock. And as Rich M puts it on his post (9 Dirt cheap ways clever ways to secure your home), unless the criminal is desperate or careless enough to break the door glass, this should make up for a good deterrent.
Does landscaping enhance home safety?
On top of whichever type of fence you have installed, you could add some thorny bushes, a preferably low one, as a barrier against criminals.
However, make sure to always keep these plants, and any others on the compound well-trimmed to size so they won’t offer sufficient cover for a burglar when trying to breach a window or backdoor.
Any risk in leaving tools lying about in the compound?
Being a handy person can save you a lot of money and frustration when it comes to home improvement and even with the installation of home security systems. But leaving the equipment out there after getting the job done could be all it takes to invite a burglar.
And this goes for other valuables too; it’s advisable not to leave them outside where they might tempt a passerby to hop over into your compound.
In his post on 10 low-cost ways to improve home security, Joe Provey warns that such tools as a pry bar, a hammer, ladder or other handy tools, could help an intruder to break the door or windows.
Someone might step into your backyard to pick something that you left lying about, only to end up inside the house if they happen to notice there’s no one around.
Should I install a security striker plate?
For most homeowners, a deadbolt comes in as a reliable addition to the door lock, but it’s quite unfortunate to put it plainly that sometimes that isn’t the case. With enough determination and strength, a normal-sized man could kick in your door easily even with that deadbolt in place.
Well, that doesn’t mean a deadbolt is worthless, it’s not the one at fault, if the frame isn’t strong enough, you just can’t count on it.
Now what? Well, the fix is quite simple and less costly altogether. If you haven’t installed some striker plates on your main doors, then it’s about time you picked those up.
The good thing about security striker plates is that they are usually larger than the standard striker plates, thus spreading the force of the kick over a larger area.
This allows it to withstand some good beating without giving in, enough to frustrate a burglar and have them leave empty-handed.
Here’s a Tip!
Make sure to install your striker plate using 3-inch screws or longer ones, which go well past the door frame and into the solid studs in the wall, offering ultimate strength.
How can I secure my home when I’m away on vacation?
How would it feel arriving home from a lovely holiday trip to find your home ransacked and your valuables gone? That gut-wrenching, sinking feeling has been the experience of a fair share of unlucky homeowners across the globe, and you definitely don’t be one of them, right?
Well, it all boils down to how well you can outsmart the bad guys when you’re away on a trip. And this doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might sound.
Here’s how it’s done!
Never leave spare keys outside! Burglars are also humans, and likely to reason and figure out any potential spare key hiding place. In fact, they are very good at it!
Don’t make it easy for a thief, before leaving, ensure you have removed all spare keys from outside the house and keep them safely inside or take them with you.
Alternatively, you can fool them by hiding a fake spare key in your key vault, just to through them off course and increase the chances of them being spotted. This post by bunnings.com has more details on what to do before going on holidays.
Securing your doors and windows is obvious, and we’ve discussed that in great detail so far. But, it’s also worth mentioning that it is a good idea to double-check to ensure you have locked every entry point well before leaving.
While still at it, remember to unplug the garage door opener to prevent anyone using a universal remote to open it. And for the sliding doors, get a long piece of metal or wood and place it between your door and the wall for added security.
Also, smart sockets can be very helpful, as they enable you to leave your electronics plugged in, but you will be able to control them using an app to turn them on or off remotely.
Cameras also help keep criminals at bay, as they can make them very uncomfortable by knowing that they are being watched. And if you don’t have a video doorbell camera, make sure to pick one up (preferably one with 2-way audio) as these not only alert you whenever someone approaches the front door to your property, but you could use the audio to stun a burglar at the front door.
Automatic lights also do a great job of fooling everyone that someone’s home, all thanks to the latest technology. Installing such smart devices allows you to set automatic timers to turn the lights on at dusk and off in the morning.
A quick tip here, vary the schedule of your automatic lights, as keen burglars could notice that they always turn on and off exactly at the same time every day, which could give away your little trick.
Still, on the lights, it’s advisable to have motion-activated lights installed both outdoors and indoors as well, these help catch burglars by surprise, and drawing attention to them, which is the last thing an intruder wants.
Home Security System Checklist…In a Nutshell
- The list of things that you have to be on the lookout for when securing your home is a long one. So to make it easier for you to grasp some of the most important factors that really count, here’s a breakdown of everything.
- Upgrade your existing systems or get the latest ones if installing for the first time.
- If you’re considering installing an alarm system, get a monitored one for reliable coverage.
- Always turn on your home security system when leaving home, regardless of how long you expect to be out.
- Go for a reliable security system provider with sufficient experience, reputation and years of service under their belt.
- Weed out any unnecessary services or devices that might not add much value to your overall home security.
- Be on the watch out for rip-offs and contracts that might lock you in, resulting in loss of money.
- Secure your home against fire, carbon monoxide, and other internal risks as well.
- You don’t have to break the bank to keep your home safe, consider trying out other means that are less costly.
- Secure your patio door, too. Very unlikely to be targeted, but still a possible breach point.
- Install a security striker plate, it will offer the much-needed reinforcement to your door.
Securing your home comes across as a process rather than a one-off installation that you could say got you covered. And this is essential since intruders keep on getting smarter with time, which is why it’s so important to keep on tweaking and twisting your approaches to stay a step ahead.
Nothing could make your home more targeted than letting burglars notice that they could get in and out fast and easy enough without any risk of being noticed.
And as you’ve found out, this doesn’t have to be for the wealthy, all it takes is knowing what to do, and you could easily prevent any losses with next to no investment at all.
Which of these measures do you have in place? What do you think you’ve been missing all along? And what are you going to work on next to make your home even more secure and safer for your loved ones?
Let us know in the comments section below.