10 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe and SecureTuesday, May 10, 2016
Keeping your property secure and your family safe is so important, and is never something that should be overlooked. While I was at university a house we lived in was broken into, and while they never got away with anything especially valuable the experience is enough to shake you up- and home security is something I've taken really seriously ever since. In order to deter thieves and keep your home safe you need to take a multi-dimensional approach, use layers of security and assess all potential weak areas. Here are some things to consider!
1. Don’t Have Things On Show
The first one is easy: keep valuables out of sight. Close curtains and blinds in the evening, and position tvs and other expensive electricals away from windows. It might be tempting to throw your car keys on a side table when you come in the door, but if any curious burglars take a peek through your letterbox while you're sleeping and spot them you could wake up with no car the next day. Put any small valuables that you don't use regularly like jewellery, passports and cash into a safe. Then make sure the safe is hidden and bolted down, this is really important otherwise if a burglar ever gets in they could simply walk off with the safe and break it open once they're safely away.
2. Cut Down Obstructive BushesYou might think that things like tall garden bushes would prevent passing thieves from being able to look into your windows and make your home safer, but actually they have the opposite affect. Tall plants, trees and bushes can provide cover for anyone trying to break into your home, and so keeping them low and trimmed will prevent this from happening.
3. Secure All Entryways
Always make sure all access points to your home are locked, every time you leave the house (even if it's just for a few minutes). Amazingly in almost half of all burglaries, the thief enters through an unlocked door or window. Do regular checks to make sure nothing is faulty or easily broken into, for example wooden doors and window frames could be upgraded to plastic models. These newer models are much more secure and can’t be jimmied or kicked in as easily as older frames. If you have old garage doors, consider upgrading them to a new brand like novoferm garage doors. Another place to keep locked and secure is your shed, this probably contains a number of tools that will make a burglars job a lot easier- ladders, hammers, crow bars etc. There have been many cases of burglars who have conducted break ins using equipment from the victim's own garden or shed and so always be sure to keep these things secured.
4. Install a Floodlight
Illuminating the entrances at the front and back of your home is a great way to deter burglars, the majority will continue to walk on by if they know they don't have the cover of darkness. You could go for a motion activated floodlight (many have sensitivity settings that you can adjust to stop them from being set off by cats) or a light that comes on automatically at sunset and goes off again at sunrise.
5. Train Your Dog to Bark
I'd never recommend getting a dog solely for the purposes of guarding your home, as I believe they should be cared for as part of the family and not just seen as something to provide a function. However if you already have a beloved dog, teaching them to bark at disturbances outside is a good way to deter burglars. My own dog is huge and extremely antisocial with strangers (this makes things difficult when I have people I actually want to come into the house!) however on the plus side he definitely keeps the place well guarded, and his loud and fierce bark is enough to put off any sane person from trying their luck. Burglars don't like dogs, they're noisy and draw attention; even the sweetest dogs sound vicious when they're growling and barking and so most thieves wont risk being savagely bitten.
6. Trick Thieves
Most burglars are opportunistic. Quiet, empty and unsecured properties where they can be in and out will always be their first choice- and so if they believe someone is home there's a good chance they'll keep on walking and look for an easier target. For this reason, when you're not at home (whether it's for an extended period of time like a holiday, or even for a few hours in the evening or while you're at work) you'll want to make it look like your home is occupied. Leaving tvs, radios and lamps on using a timer switch will make it appear like someone is in- alternatively you can buy a TV light which creates a flickering blue glow to simulate your tv and will use less energy.
7. Don’t Leave A Spare Key
Leaving spare keys is always a bad move, no matter how good you think your hiding place is burglars will have seen it all before and know where to look. Under doormats, in sheds, in plant pots and fake stones- it's just not worth the risk. You're much better off leaving a spare key with a friend or family member who lives locally, or in some cases a trusted neighbour providing you know them well.
8. Install CCTVA good CCTV system will act as a preventative measure, as well as provide evidence should anything happen to your home. Research systems and the best places to position the cameras, they should be high up enough to prevent anyone from snipping the wire or covering the lens. Avoid dummy cameras with blinking lights, a burglar will know they're fake from a mile off.
9. Invest in a Burglar Alarm
While taking precautionary measures will usually deter passing burglars, if someone does still attempt a break in you need to be prepared. A burglar alarm is your best bet here, they're not cheap but are one of the single most effective ways to prevent anyone from making off with your stuff. We were lucky to have a burglar alarm already installed when we moved into our current home, if you're also renting you could consider asking your landlord if they'll provide you with one (or split the cost of one with you). For added peace of mind some can be hooked up to your smartphone or security company, and from there your local police station can be contacted immediately if it goes off. There's a monthly fee for a service like this, but if you consider yourself to be especially high risk then it's a good option. Always set your alarm every time you go out, creating a 'locking up' routine where you check all windows and doors and set the alarm when you leave the house will help to remind you.
10. Get to Know Your NeighboursKnowing your neighbours is always helpful, have a chat and let them know that if your alarm goes off and you're nowhere in sight then to call the police immediately. Swap numbers if possible so you're able to contact each other if there's ever an emergency. Even without a set neighbourhood watch scheme, simply having neighbours who are willing to look out for each others homes means they're able to spot anything that looks a bit dodgy and alert you or the police as soon as possible.