Submitted by Danny Grubb, Seattle, WA
We have had two break-ins at our house before we had our twins. Both times the criminals came in through our bedroom window while we were gone. Since we have had babies I take our home security much more seriously. A home is supposed to be a safe place. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m being a little paranoid, but keeping my family safe has become one of my top priorities.
Following are three strategies which I think can make a huge difference in the security of your family when they are home.
(Note: I have not provided specific product links as I believe it is important with home security to undertake your own research)
One: Get A Security System
Having a good security system means that you have to pay a monthly fee and some maintenance costs when issues arise. Having a security system which you are confident in is the most basic way to deter burglars. Here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a home security system.
- Make sure the company offers 24 hour monitoring
- Make sure the company has a good reputation
- Read the warranty
- Make sure the system has "Panic Codes" built in. For example: If you push 1 and 3 together the police come running, 3 and 9 the fire department, etc.
- The system should be able to accommodate a "Duress Code". You use this four-digit code if you are being forced to disable the alarm. The alarm will turn off, but the police will still come running.
Owning an alarm system will require you to adjust your behaviors slightly. With Home Invasions on the rise you should use your system when you are away as well as when you are home. You will want to be careful if you are cracking windows or answering the door (for someone you know) that you turn the alarm off first or you'll wake the entire neighborhood up.
Two: Secure Your Windows
This is where our house was vulnerable so I’ve put a lot of thought into this aspect of home security. These fixes will deter, confuse and maybe even frustrate potential burglars.
- Make sure your window construction is complicated (Blinds between the panes, laminations on the glass, multiple panes)
- Buy add-on locks to make unlocking the windows as complicated as a Chinese puzzle box.
- Use dowels in your window tracks to keep them from opening more than a few inches. Also, make sure your dowels are substantial and noticeable from the outside. At least an inch in diameter and paint them yellow if that helps.
- If you can't make your window installations more complicated (if you live in an apartment for instance) you can purchase battery operated window break monitors. They listen for the sound of glass breaking and make annoying noises like a smoke detector.
It is important to note that laminated glass can make it more difficult to break glass in order to get out of the house in an emergency. Make sure that your family knows how to get out of the house if the need arises.
Three: Secure Your Doors
Yes, some burglars will try to get right through the front door. That's how most home invasions are performed. They either break your door down or get you to open it somehow. Here's how to defend yourself against invaders.
- Install quality locks. The investment is worth it.
- Sliding patio doors should have locks on the top and bottom.
- Any glass on your doors should be laminated.
- Make sure you can see out of your door (peephole, decorative glass pane)
- Bonus Points: Intercom system… communicate with people outside your door without opening it!
If Someone Still Breaks In
This is where a little bit of practice could really come in handy. When you are woken out of your sleep to a loud noise your first instinct will be to turn the noise off. The problem with that is that this tells the monitoring center that the alarm was a mistake and they should not respond. Instead you should let the alarm continue to sound while you check your house or call police to the scene. If you can hear or see the burglar in your house you should push your “Panic Code” to call the police.
Regarding Gun Safety And Kids
The act of storing a gun safely precludes you from using it in a time of crisis. Essentially this limits your weapon to recreational endeavors. If you don’t have your gun stored safely your child will eventually figure out how to put all the pieces together. Believing your child is responsible enough to make intelligent decisions in regards to weapons carries a large risk. In terms of home safety I am a strong believer in baseball bats (or big fat yellow window dowels).
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