You don’t have to be on vacation for your house to be vulnerable to burglary. With multiple break-ins happening every minute in the US and UK, taking a few steps to make your home a bit more secure is a wise move. And the good news is you don’t have to make it look like Alcatraz in the process. Here are a few practical tips that will help you secure your home against intruders.
As genius as it may seem to keep that key on the upper edge of the doorframe or underneath the wastebasket where no one can see it, turns out you may not be the most savvy homeowner on the cul de sac. Common burglars are well-aware of hidden keys and where they are likely to be found.
There’s something that most hiding spots for spare keys have in common: ease of access for the owner. Spare keys are typically within arm’s reach of the door itself.
If you are going to hide a spare key, flip this principal on its head: follow the rule of distance. Think outside the box and look as far from the door as you can to hide your spare key. As long as you aren’t using it on a regular basis (and why would you?) it will still be plenty accessible enough to get you inside when you accidentally lock your keys in your car.
Think outside the box: wedge a spare key in between slats of vinyl siding, nail it inside the hollow of a tree, or better yet, stash it securely under an occupied dog house – the last place a bad guy is going to want to spend time scraping around. Any place that is inconvenient for a stranger to access and secure enough that your key won’t get lifted by a squirrel.
You might be surprised to hear the most common entrance for a burglary is through the front door. With a little effort, most residential doors can be breached fairly easily. But if you can increase the time and effort it would take to get through then you have a shot at slowing down or discouraging a breakin altogether.
The easiest way to break through a door is to kick it near the handle, forcing the locking hardware straight through its surrounding wooden jamb. Fortunately, this can be made extremely difficult with the right materials.
Upgrading to a fully-enclosed strike plate and opting for solid core PVC or hollow metal doors can go a long way towards preventing someone from breaking through. If you’re not feeling quite that handy, replacing the screws that fix your door’s strike plate to the jamb with longer ones that dig deeper into the adjacent stud can be an effective and easy improvement to your home’s security. And if all that jargon is a bit too dense for you, you can find better explanations for door-related terminology in this guide to the different parts of a door.
Have you ever noticed exterior lights that shine up on houses in nice neighborhoods? Not only do they look good and showcase your house’s exterior – they also can serve an important security function.
The more visibility there is around your home’s entrances, the less welcoming it is to potential intruders. While some burglars can be violent and extremely dangerous, the majority of them work in fear of being noticed or confronted. Increasing the visibility of entrances with exterior lighting and cutting back on landscaping that excessively covers the path to the front door are great ways to discourage this type of thief.
If you don’t have the budget for exterior lighting, consider purchasing a motion sensor light. This is a great everyday convenience that also draws attention to any suspicious movements outside of your house.
Commercial and government facilities have meticulously outlined security standards and contingency plans. Why shouldn’t you have a mini version for your own home? Issues like risk assessment, document security, and response plans for contingencies (natural or otherwise) and essential for larger organizations. While yours don’t have to be complex, just taking into account a few basic scenarios can go a long way. Ask yourself questions like:
If my phone is lost or dead, what are other means of communication in an emergency?
If your phone battery is drained or you don’t have your phone at all, what can you do to communicate? It could as sophisticated as having a secondary phone or as simple as logging into your laptop and communicating with family members via social media.
But you don’t want to wait until an emergency to work this out. Do you have usernames and passwords readily available should you need to log in on a different device? If you try to call a family member through Skype or Facebook, will they receive a notification or will it be relegated to the background by spam filtering mechanisms?
What’s our plan if there is a break-in while the house is occupied?
What’s your exit plan? How do you make sure family members are out of harm’s way? What’s your last resort? You don’t have to be morbid or paranoid. Just running through these situations once in your head can help you patch major vulnerabilities you may not be aware of.
When are basic housekeeping measures like checking fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher expiration dates, updating passwords, etc. implemented?
As boring as they are, simple maintenance routines are an essential part of your home’s security and safety. Here’s the good news: most of these measures only take a few minutes and only require attention once a year or even less frequently. You can tackle this step as simply as creating a quick running list of things that need periodic maintenance and creating a recurring reminder on your digital calendar. It won’t take long and even a hastily arranged maintenance routine is infinitely better than playing it by ear.
For those who prefer a more traditional home-like experience when on vacation, a timeshare can make sense. If you’ve gotten many years of good use out of your timeshare and now want to get rid of it, a timeshare cancellation company like Timeshare Freedom Group or Lonestar transfer may be able to help.