Home security is one of those things that many of us don’t think about until we need to. (Believe me: After somebody breaks into your home, ignoring the issue of home security no longer feels like a possibility.) But as with eating right and exercising, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to home security.
Many people avoid burglar-proofing their home because it feels like a daunting task. People might feel like they don’t know where to start, or they’ll worry about the cost of securing their home. That’s where these tips come in. Not only do they give you a great foundation for home security, but they’re also simple and (for the most part) inexpensive. Dedicate one Saturday to implementing these strategies, and you’ll benefit from improved peace of mind for years to come.
1. Beef up your locks
Door locks won’t do you much good if you have a weak door jamb. Reinforce your door jamb with a heavy steel strike plate and long screws, both of which will help strengthen your door against potential break-ins. You can purchase strike-plate reinforcing hardware at virtually any hardware store, or enlist a handyman to help out if you’re not competent with a drill. While you’re at it, replace weak locks with stronger grade deadbolts, make sure all of your exterior doors use interior door hinges, and change all locks if you ever lose your house key.
2. Reinforce your windows
Nobody needs to nail their windows shut—all of our homes can benefit from regular doses of fresh air. Get the best of ventilation and home security by installing window stops, which allow windows to be opened a few inches but not wide enough for a person to fit through.
3. Install motion sensor lighting outside your home
Leaving the porch light on while you’re away seems like a good idea because it can help convey that somebody’s home. But when the light stays on 24/7, it has the exact opposite effect: It becomes obvious that nobody is home to turn off the light. The solution? Install motion sensor lighting that turns on whenever somebody comes within range of the sensor. This will help deter potential intruders and save you money on your electricity bill.
4. Hide valuables in unexpected places
No, I’m not talking about the sock drawer—that’s been done to death, to the point that thieves know to check there. Instead, try hiding your valuables in more unusual places, such as a tennis ball, a box of tampons or menstrual pads, or inside other random household goods.
5. Consider mail and newspaper delivery when you go away
Nothing says “nobody’s home!” more clearly than stacks of mail piling up in the mailbox and a mountain of newspapers on the front porch. Whenever you go away, make sure to ask the post office and newspaper to hold your deliveries. Or enlist a friend or neighbor to collect newspapers, mail, and fliers from your property every day while you’re gone.
6. Reinforce air conditioning units
Unsecured window air conditioning units can easily be pushed inside the house, leaving a wide-open window for burglars to crawl through. Eliminate this risk by using a bracket, sliding window lock, and/or corner braces to secure the air conditioner in place.
7. Store ladders inside (not on the lawn)
Leaving a ladder in the yard is like extending an invitation to thieves to enter via the second floor. The easy solution? Store ladders in a locked garage or garden shed to limit easy access to your home.
These strategies work best when they’re consistently enforced, so make sure everyone living in your home knows the drill and is committed to implementing these practices. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to purchase renter’s or home owner’s insurance—that way you’re still protected financially in the (now unlikely!) event that a burglar finds their way inside.