In the last couple of articles, we looked at what makes up expensive and cheap home security systems, and what you can expect from them in general. While there are many options to choose from, a homeowner can do quite a few things to strengthen defense perimeters without all the technological jargon.
In this article, I want to look at the top 10 home security tips you can do to improve the security of your home, with little to no cost! Some of this may seem obvious, but building natural deterrents in your home and daily routine is an essential building block in fortifying your home.
Top 10 Home Security Tips – It May Surprise You
This is just a simple list to start making your wheels turn about what you have, or do not have, implemented in place around your home. The list is not comprehensive of all types of security systems that you can purchase, remember these are tips that anybody can use to help secure the safety of their home. This list of top 10 home security tips can be ranked from best to worst in many ways, but they play a critical part in home security regardless how effective one might be over another.
- Strengthen door jambs and block window slides
- Lock up your outside kid toys and your belongings
- Secure your home electrical junction box with a lock
- Do not be obvious that you are leaving on vacation
- Implement indoor and outdoor timers for lights and appliances
- Deviate from your daily routine, routinely
- Hire pet sitters to come to your home
- Love and own the most loyal dog breed
- Motion sensor flood lights – blind them!
- Keep large shrubs or low bushy trees that are close to the home trimmed and small
I want to expand a bit on some of these tips that I feel important. Some of them need more explanation than others do, but let us start with what I feel is most critical, as thieves are continually trying to outwit security systems.
Power is Perilous
This became a trend in our local community, albeit short-lived, and I want to share this simple solution to help prevent this from spreading. Even though some of our neighbors are real close, you cannot always count on them to stop odd activity.
A suspicious vehicle would pass down the street a few times, slowing down at the home each time. Then unexpectedly another vehicle shows up with a U-haul trailer attached. This vehicle would back the trailer up to the home, “open” the front door (turns out it is really easy to pick a lock) and start loading up the trailer with the valuables from the home.
The neighbors would watch this whole thing happen, and never question it! What the worst part of this ordeal was that the home had a camera security system installed and working. Burglars thwarted this by quickly shutting the power off to the house via the electrical junction box.
Earlier while the vehicle was casing the home, a person would slip around the blind spots of the home and turn off the large breaker that supplies power to the home. This is important to realize, because power is essential for all your home safeguards to function properly!
The GOOD news is this is preventable. While not completely unavoidable, it will slow the burglar down enough that it will either deter them, or allow your home security system to catch them before power goes out.
Home electrical junction boxes have a built in locking feature to keep the lid secure from opening, but you will have to provide the lock! Just go to your home supply store and pick the best lock that bolt cutters will have a hard time cutting open, and then lock your junction box! This lock also pulls double-duty if you or a contractor are working on the electrical system of the home. After the appropriate breakers are shut off, the lid can be locked to prevent anybody from accidentally turning power back on while somebody is working on the system, protecting their lives.
You will have implemented an important security feature to your home, and it is easy to do. One more bonus, if you are late on a power bill, the power company cannot shut you off (Joking! I do not recommend using this tactic to keep from paying your power bills).
Conceal, Don’t Feel
Corny Disney reference here, but it speaks to the next critical point. Concealing what you own keeps thieves from simply taking it, or at least it keeps them guessing about what valuables you might own, which is another stall tactic that we will cover in future articles. Out of sight, out of mind for the most part. If a burglar does not know what you own, the less likely they will be willing to risk breaking in to a home. Keep your kids expensive toys out of sight, and maybe think about storing that expensive grill or patio set when it is not in use.
Keeping blinds closed, especially at night, keeps passer-byes from looking out the corner of their eye in to your home. Your home is not only shelter from the elements; it is also a safeguard of your privacy. Your blinds or drapes should be covered at night anyway to help reduce heat loss through your windows. Win-Win for everybody!
Many new homes are equipped with special heat insulating windows that look slightly tinted from the outside, but are perfectly clear from the inside. Similar to one-way viewing windows, during the day this tint makes it more difficult to look inside the home. This type of solution is expensive to implement, but if you do not want to keep your blinds closed all day to enjoy the wonderful view you have, these tinted windows will not only improve the insulation quality of your home, but will help protect you from wandering eyes as well.
Concealing also works for the next tip, as anybody that might be scoping out your home for valuables, are also trying to figure out your routine. You want to stall and push them away by not revealing what you do on a daily basis. Not everyone wants to be a hermit in a cave, but small steps in a variety of areas adds up and gives you flexibility and freedom while being completely secure.
Keep Them Guessing
Maybe you thought to set up a cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan to ride around on a train set to simulate the presence of somebody being at home. This might work in the movies, but there are far better ways to keep thieves away. Your daily routine can reveal to others when you leave the house and return home every day. The last thing you want is predictability. We want to build order out of chaos, but not too much chaos.
Light timers have advanced to the point that they pick a different time each day to turn on, within a specified time range. So instead of turning on at 5:30pm every day to simulate you are home, it will turn the lights on at 5:35pm one day, and 5:40pm the next. Implement these timers in to your daily routine, so that when you leave on vacation, the unpredictable trend carries on and makes it appear you are still home.
Most new TV’s are now equipped with self-timers that turn them on or off at the time you want it to. Use this to your advantage and program through the TV settings when it will come on or off while you are away on vacation. Have it turn on around dinner time, then turn off at 11pm for example.
Motion sensor lights give the notion that you are unpredictable. When will the homeowner turn on the lights? If the intruder gets too close, the blinding light immediately reveals his location, attempting to thwart any advances that you or your neighbor can immediately spot. These flood lights now come in LED, which is beyond bright, and will quite frankly burn the retinas from your enemies eyes.
Instead of dropping your pet off at the local kennel service, consider hiring a trusted pet sitter to come to your home while you are on vacation. The pet sitter can make sure that all is in order at home, and the potential that a person will arrive unexpectedly creates uncertainty in a burglars plan.
Dogs are Man’s Best Friend – Choose your Friend Wisely
If your landlord does not allow pets, or owning a dog is not an option, there are simulated dog barking alarms that you can purchase to help scare intruders away. There is no true replacement though for the immediate presence of a dog that wants to bite an intruder in the butt. Good dog!
A dog has been a loyal companion of humans since the beginning of time. Many people own a dog because they are a part of the family, but a lot of responsibility comes with the ownership of a guard dog, and your investment in time with that dog is crucial. Take these things in to consideration when looking for a guard dog:
A yappy chihuahua is just that, yappy. Like the boy who cried wolf, after the dog has been barking all day at a leaf on the lawn, you are going to become immune to its warnings. On the flip-side, that annoying yap might wake you up in the middle of the night when you need it to.
Pitbulls may seem like a fierce breed to protect your family. They are known to be very protective, but their reputation is not all that. I personally have had encounters with pitbulls on foreign territory, and they literally hugged my leg with their front paws begging to be loved. An intruder will not be scared at this point.
There are dog breeds that are specifically bred, and have proven, to be very instinctively protective of their territory and their family. The classic example is the German Shepard. We won’t go in to details in this article today, but when you are deciding on bringing in another family member to your home, consider the advantages of having a dog that will risk its life to protect you or your children.
While we want to keep intruders far away from our home using the tactics listed in this article, a loyal dog brings companionship and close range security (always through proper training) to the home. Read this article to learn more about specific guard dogs.
Landscaping can be your Best Friend, or Worst Enemy
If you happen to live in a HOA (homeowner’s association) the chances of you having a fancy manicured landscape are high. However, that large shrub located directly in front of the living room window, as you can guess, makes for a great hiding spot for a burglar to take their time picking open the window. It conceals the wrong thing, the intruder.
Put that same shrub 15 to 20 feet away from the window, you still have the advantage of privacy from the street, but discourages anybody from hiding near it.
Plan your landscaping accordingly if you are starting from scratch. If you have an established landscape and don’t want to invest in changing it all up, pick the most vulnerable or obvious spots and fix those.
More Tricks up Your Sleeve
Was this top 10 home security tips list helpful? What are some things that you do right now to protect your home? Is it anything in the list we just covered?
These tips do not apply to everyone, especially if you rent in an apartment complex, but there are things you can do that will insure you are secure.
I want to hear your ideas to add to this list, so please, leave your comments below and share your stories with others! Keep your family safe this week by practicing any of these tips today.