Purchasing a comprehensive home security system is one of the best decisions you can make to create a safer household. However, it isn’t the only option you have when seeking to increase your home’s security. There are a number of simple, inexpensive measures that you can take to prevent home intrusions. The following tips will help you learn how to conduct an informal inspection of your home and locate areas where quick, low-cost repairs will provide improved peace of mind.
Set Household Rules
Consistency is a key element of home security. Once you decide which strategies and tools to implement to keep your home safe and secure, you must ensure that they are working on an ongoing basis in order to defend your home 24/7. If you live alone, the process might include simply creating a checklist of tasks to complete when leaving and returning home, such as locking your doors and windows, activating security alarms, and turning on timers for lights and other appliances.
If your household has multiple members, you might consider calling a house meeting to discuss the role that everyone plays to keep your home safe. This will provide an opportunity to establish household standards and remind everyone of common home security measures, as well as impart some less obvious tips. In addition, the meeting will help to remind members of your household about the need to secure their doors, windows, and garage doors. At the meeting, you can also instruct them on how to use any existing alarm systems and discuss plans for securing valuables within your home. You can also remind them about the need to secure the house even while they are working or playing in the yard, as well as offer guidelines for answering the door to strangers.
Don’t Broadcast Your Absence
Would-be home intruders are constantly on the lookout for indications that a home is unoccupied. Most burglaries occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when a home’s inhabitants are likely at work. Houses left empty while their inhabitants are on vacation are also prime targets for break-ins and thefts. To keep your home from becoming a target while you’re away, consider using automated timers for your indoor and outdoor lighting to create the impression that someone is home.
Leaving a car—whether it’s yours or that of a friend—in your driveway while you’re out of town is another way to deter potential burglars. Additionally, if you are going to be away for several days, you should contact your local post office to put packages and mail on hold. An overflowing mailbox can serve as a sure sign to burglars that a house is not occupied.
Your social media use can also play a role in making your home more secure. Be extremely cautious when posting updates that indicate that you are out of the house or out of town, as these posts can clue in potential burglars to the fact that you’re away. Carefully consider what you share on social media, particularly when tagging yourself in locations. You might consider waiting until you return home to post all of the highlights from your recent vacation. If you do share them, ensure that your privacy settings are tailored appropriately.
Change Your Locks
When you move into a new home, there is no way for you to know whether you are the only one with house keys. The previous owners may have created copies or misplaced their own keys in the past, creating a security risk for you as the home’s new inhabitant. For this reason, you should change the locks on all outward-facing doors whenever you move into a new home.
When updating your locks, ensure that you choose a deadbolt model with a sturdy strike plate made of brass or another solid metal. For optimal security, the deadbolt should be at least 1-inch thick with 3-inch screws affixing it to the door jamb and frame, and it should carry a lock grade of at least 1 or 2.
Don’t Hide Your House Key
Many households keep a key hidden in a discrete outdoor location to serve as a safeguard in case someone is locked out. However, burglars are incredibly familiar with this practice and will likely search in common hidden places, such as mailboxes, potted plants, and underneath your doormat, for a spare key. Instead of hiding a key outside of your home, consider giving a copy to a trusted neighbor.
Similarly, don’t store extra keys or garage door remotes in areas that are close to your front door or visible through a window. Stow these items safely in drawers or other unseen areas so they are not visible to potential thieves.
Keep Up with Your Landscaping
In addition to attracting intruders who are in search of an unoccupied, unsecured home, overgrown foliage can also serve as cover for burglars waiting to find a way inside. Keep your landscaping neatly trimmed and well-spaced to ensure visibility throughout your yard. In addition, be sure to put any tools away after working outside, lest would-be intruders use them to gain entry into your home. This is particularly true for ladders, which can provide easy, unauthorized access to second-story windows if left outside unattended.