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Setting the Stage for a Safer Home

Home is where the heart is, therefore, it’s also where you store valuable belongings and keepsakes. That’s why it’s important to safeguard your home against burglars and other intruders. There’s more to the job than installing an alarm system, but fortunately there are several common-sense steps you can take to make sure your house isn’t a criminal’s next casualty.

First off, take a look at entries and exits to the home. Are doors loose in their hinges? You may need to tighten or replace them for maximum security. Do you have deadbolt locks (among the strongest) or a weaker form of lock? It might be time to replace locks. Are dog doors and cat doors bigger than necessary making it possible for someone to reach in and unlock a door? It might be best to eliminate pet doors or make them smaller. What about windows? Always close and lock windows when you’re not home, even in summer.

Outside, make sure it appears that you are home (or in town), even when you’re not. Consider investing in timers that turn lights on and off at pre-set intervals to make it appear that someone is inside the house. Illuminate sidewalks, and install motion sensor lights in driveways and backyards so intruders get caught in the spotlight before they can get to work- and so you can see your surroundings after dark when outside or returning. Keep the yard well-maintained so it doesn’t appear you’ve left town for weeks on end, and don’t let newspaper or mail accumulate outside if you leave town. If your back yard faces an alley, consider installing a lockable fence to deter trespassers. If your deck has stairs into the back yard, consider alarming the door to the deck or installing a lockable gate at the top of the stairs into the yard.

Installing an alarm system can help protect your home. Look for a system that not only contacts police, but also fire and emergency medical personnel, and that can work with or without electricity – as some voice-activated systems do. Don’t just install the system–advertise to the world that it’s in use by planting a small sign (usually offered to you by the alarm company) outside the front of the house and by placing stickers on every window. Yes, every window: Some people who have experienced break-ins have observed that thieves break in windows without stickers.

Consider placing rarely-used valuables (jewelry, important collectibles, and heirlooms) and important documents (savings bonds, title or deed to the home, etc.) in a bank lock-box, external storage facility, or in-home safe. And consider asking your insurer for more ways to increase your home’s safety. Indeed, your efforts to increase safety at home might just lower your insurance premiums.