Improving your home’s security is something that everyone should be interested in. A lot of us are concerned about the safety and security of our family and homes.
The good thing is it doesn’t take a lot of work, a lot of money or a lot of time to make your home a lot more secure than it is already! By accomplishing just a few of the home security improvements on this list will make your home much more secure than it currently is.
Some of the more involved tasks may be out of your reach if you live in an apartment or rent. The good thing is the most accessible (and often most effective) home security improvements apply regardless of if you own your home or rent.
Don’t Let Your Mailbox Fill Up
If you’re leaving on vacation or just going to be away for a few days, make sure someone is emptying your mailbox. One of the easiest ways for a burglar to tell if you’re home or not is by seeing a mailbox overflowing with several days worth of mail.
Try to make arrangements with friends or family to empty your mailbox before it gets full. If you’re going to be gone for a long period of time, you may way to have mail delivery stopped completely.
Adding a VPN to your home computer is a good way to protect yourself online, both at home and on the road.
If you happen to still have a paper delivered, make sure the person getting your mail also picks up the paper. This is another dead giveaway that you’re not there!
Add a Security Company Sign to the Outside of Your House
As we go through these steps to make your home more secure, you’ll notice that many of them revolve around deception. This is the first of many ways to deter would-be intruders for just a couple dollars.
Most burglars are interested in finding a place that represents the easiest target. If there’s even a possibility that the house has an alarm system then they may just move on to another home that doesn’t have one.
By adding a sticker to the front door, or a sign in your yard, you can make your place look like a much harder target. Of course, this won’t warn you if someone decides to break into your house so actually having an alarm is a much better idea if you can afford it.
Place Motion Sensor Lights Around the Perimeter of Your Home
When thieves try to approach a home at night, it’s usually for one reason. It’s dark! By adding motion sensor lights to the outside of your home you take that advantage away from them.
Try to make sure the lights are facing in a direction that the thieves would approach from. Have as much of your yard covered and make sure the lights come on if someone pulls into the driveway.
If you have a long driveway you can place a light farther down the driveway and away from your house.
All of Your External Doors Should Be Kick Proof
All of the doors in your house that are on an exterior wall should be solid wood, fiberglass or metal. This includes your garage door.
Each door should also have a sturdy deadbolt and include a metal strike box that is secured with 3″ screws. This keeps your door jamb from breaking easily when the door is kicked. (A thief that is persistent enough will still be able to get in!)
Install Window and Door Stops
These cover a whole range of products from devices that need some work to install to simple levers or screw-in devices that add in a physical block. Anything is better than nothing but typically the more work that goes into the installation, the more secure they are in the long run.
Don’t Store Ladders Outside
Don’t store ladders (or anything else that a burglar could use to climb) outside your house.
Most security systems only have sensors installed on the ground floor. It’s also common for people to forget to lock upstairs windows or leave them open in the summertime. A ladder is left on the side of the house or in an unlocked shed is a perfect tool for a burglar.
Don’t Let Your Trash Pile Up
If you’ve recently received a lot of packages, don’t leave the empty boxes piled up on the curb. Instead, flatten them and put them in the trash can.
Piled up boxes could signal to thieves that you have something of value in the house and make you look like a potential target.
Secure Window Air Conditioner Units
Before you ever place the air conditioner it’s good to consider what window you’re going to put it in. Ideally, you’ll place it in a second-floor window, but that isn’t always possible.
If it has to go on the ground floor, consider putting it in a difficult to reach window or in a clearly visible area so neighbors can see anyone trying to climb in through the window.
When you install the air conditioner, use brackets to secure it in place, add plastic or metal flaps to the sides and install sliding locks on the window. If you secure the air conditioner in place well and install locks, it won’t be easy for someone to get in through that window.
Eliminate Hiding Spots
Trim any bushes that could provide a hiding spot for burglars. Especially around your windows and doors. You don’t want to provide a place for anyone to hide while they try to access your house or to lie in wait for someone to come outside.
Untrimmed bushes can also be seen as a sign that you haven’t been around in a long time.
Never Hide Spare Keys Outside
You’d be surprised how many people still just throw a key under the doormat or think they’re getting sneaky by putting a spare key under a potted plant or in a fake rock. Don’t think you’re getting one over on a burglar.
I suggest never leaving a spare key outside your house. If you absolutely feel the need to do it, you can purchase locking key holders that you can hide outside. That way the thief won’t be able to easily gain access to the key, even if they find it.
Be Smart About Social Media Posts
Posting on social media is a way of life for some people. If you feel the need to broadcast every moment of your life on the web you need to understand that others can use that information against you.
I highly suggest that you make all personal social media profiles private so only friends can see what you post. This is just a good practice in general and goes well beyond only being helpful in stopping a burglary.
Even after you make your profiles private, you need to be careful about what you post. Save up all those vacation pictures and put them on social media after you get home.
If you’re broadcasting that you’re gone on vacation then would-be thieves know that your house is an easy target.
Use a Safe
You should keep all of your valuables and firearms in a safe. Preferably a fireproof safe.
This will at least keep your most prized items secure in the event that someone does break into your house and locking up your firearms will keep unarmed intruders unarmed.
Use Timers to Turn Your Lights and Television On
Today’s modern homes are becoming more and more automated. In the past, timers were your only option to automate your lights and TV to make it look like you were home.
These days there are a whole host of products that allow you to automate your lights, and TV or even control them from your phone in case you decide to stay out late one night but still want it to look like you made it home on time.
There are even fake TV devices that project light onto your walls so it looks like your TV is on but only uses a fraction of the power that your TV would.
Taking advantage of these devices allows you to trick potential burglars.
Join or Start a Neighborhood Watch Program
This is a really interesting idea that has a lot of positives beyond just making your home more secure. By joining a neighborhood watch program you take the security of your neighborhood into your own hands. It adds a sense of personal responsibility where people often lack it.
A neighborhood watch program brings the community together, reduces crime, forms a bond between the neighborhood and law enforcement, and improves the overall quality of life for everyone in the area.
If you’re interested in forming a neighborhood watch there are many online resources that can guide you through the process. www.nnw.org and safewise.com are both good resources to get you started.
Get a Dog or Make it Look Like You Have One
This is yet another time when deception can be used to throw off a potential thief. Something as simple as a beware of dog sign can cause someone to look for an easier target.
Even better than the sign is actually having a dog that will alert you to a possible intruder. Even little dogs have been shown to deter burglars.
Block Sliding Doors with a Dowel, Pipe or Broom Handle
Sliding doors are one of the weakest areas in most people’s homes. They’re typically on the backside of the house, out of the view of neighbors and passing vehicles, the locks are easy to force open, and they’re made of GLASS.
We can’t do anything about them being made of glass but we can reinforce the lock with a dowel, pipe or even a broom handle cut to the correct length to prevent the door from sliding open. Simply drop the doorstop in place when you’re not using the door and it’ll be much more secure.
I see this tip as one of the best. It’s cheap to implement and forces burglars to smash the window or try another way in.
Add a Peephole
If you don’t already have a peephole installed in your door, you should add one. Never open the door before you check who is on the other side.
Make sure family members, especially children, know not to open the door for anyone that they don’t recognize.
Install One Way Deadbolts
Single sided deadbolts only have a key on the inside of the door. This means that the lock can only be opened or closed from the inside.
Because they only have a keyhole on the inside, they can’t be picked. They make a great second deadbolt for your external doors and give you an added layer of security while you’re at home.
Plant Thorny Bushes and Shrubs Under Windows
When you’re planning your landscaping, try to put thorny shrubs and bushes under windows and other places that an intruder may decide to hide. These will add a layer of defense while not making your place look like a fortress.
Blackberry bushes are fast-growing and can reach heights of 5 feet tall. Their thorns are likely to deter anyone looking to hide in them.
Oregon grape is another ideal bush to defend your home. The leaves are surrounded by spiky thorns and can pierce clothing with ease.
These plants good for more things than just improving security! They also have medicinal qualities and are edible.
Roses are another obvious choice when you’re thinking about thorny plants.
Pyracantha, aka Firethorn, makes a great barrier as well. It can grow to 10 feet tall and is known for its heartiness.
If You Lose a Key, Replace the Locks Immediately
People lose things all the time. If you happen to lose a house key, you should replace the locks right away.
It may seem like overkill for something that you may find in a couple of days, but when it comes to the security of your home you can’t be too careful.
I find this to be one of the least followed home security tips. People lose keys all the and then never replace the locks. There’s no telling who has that key!
Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked When You’re Home and When You’re Gone
You may think that you live in a good neighborhood and no one would ever break into your house but that doesn’t mean you should ever leave your doors or windows unlocked. This even goes for windows on the second floor.
Some people think that their house is safe when they’re home and leave the doors unlocked during the day. Leaving the door unlocked while you’re home is a bad habit to get into.
Try to remember to lock the door behind you when you come through the door.
Don’t Place Valuable Items in View of the Windows
Don’t put things like keys in plain view of the windows. Try to keep things like jewelry from being visible in first floor bedrooms.
Large items like TVs and computers may be difficult to hide. In this case, we recommend closing the blinds at night so they’re a little less conspicuous.
Install Surveillance Cameras
Doorbell cameras are all the rage these days. They record and notify you when someone is approaching your door and can even allow you to talk with them through your phone from across the country.
Other forms of surveillance cameras are out there too and wireless technology makes them easier to install than ever before. If you believe someone has been sneaking around your home, or you just want the peace of mind that comes from being able to see what’s going on outside when you’re not around, I highly suggest you look into these.
Have a Trusted Neighbor
Hopefully, you’ve been able to interact with your neighbors and have made a few friends in the area. Having someone to check in on your home while you’re gone makes a lot of the previous suggestions easier.
Being involved with your neighbors is one of the most powerful home security tips you can take from this lineup!
If you really trust them, agree to look after each other’s houses while you’re away and consider giving them a spare key just in case. You gain a lot of peace of mind when you know you have a friend looking after your home.
Even though all of these home security tips probably won’t work for your situation. I’m sure there’s a lot of them that can. By adding just a few of them to your current home or apartment, you’ll make it much more secure than it was before!
Do you have other home security tips or other home security improvements that you like to share? Let us know in the comments below!