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Security Advice

Making your home secure isn't a matter of buying certain product; it's an overall strategy that combines locking the house tightly, eliminating the ways that intruders can conceal themselves on your property, and giving the appearance that you are home, whether you are or not.

Intruders aren't the only problem. Your home security strategy should also involve preventing accidents on your property. Many of the same things you do to protect your property from intruders are the same things you do to prevent accidents and to make your home more convenient and comfortable.

Home security systems used to be wired in during new construction, and retrofitting a system was an expensive job that could only be done by professionals. Today, combination home automation/home security systems are available that are so easy to install that they hardly qualify as do-it-yourself projects. 

The most important aspect of any security system is balance–it does no good to make your windows burglarproof when your doors can be opened more easily with a pry bar than with a key. Before you invest in an automated system, first take stock of the simple, everyday security measures that should already be in place.

SECURING DOORS

deadlocks yale lock

Every entry and utility door in the house should be a solid door; either stile-and-rail construction or a solid-core flush door. As a rule, doors that swing into the house are more secure than out-swinging doors, both because the gap between the door and jamb is not exposed and because the hinge pins are on the inside.

If you have an out-swinging door, make sure it has at least one non-removable pin hinge. You can tell by opening the door and looking at the hinge pins. A non-removable pin hinge has a set screw in the pin that prevents the pin from being removed.

All entry doors should also be fitted with deadbolts. There are two common types of deadbolts–single cylinder and double cylinder. Single-cylinder deadbolts are operated with a key from the outside and a turn button inside. Double-cylinder deadbolts must be operated with a key from both sides.

Sliding patio doors are notoriously easy to break into. One of the first things a burglar looks for is a door that is loosely fitted and wiggles a little, and sliding doors can't be built to be totally tight.

Modern patio doors often have a three-point locking system that throws a hardened bolt up into the head jamb and down into the sill to supplement the hook-type lock at the handle. If you have an older patio door, one inexpensive alternative is a hinged bar mounted on either the active door panel or the jamb that swings down to wedge the door closed.


SECURING WINDOWS

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The general rule of thumb is that all sliding windows (both horizontal sliders and single- or double-hung) are more difficult to secure than swinging casement or awning windows. Most modern swinging windows have cam locks that draw the sash tightly into the frame.

Obviously you want to make sure all window locks operate properly, but you can add to the security of sliding windows by installing key locks in place of the standard sash locks.


LIGHTING

lighting

Outdoor lighting is one of the best deterrents available; as well as an important safety feature. Low-voltage lighting kits can be installed in an afternoon, while adding to the appearance of your home. Most operate from a transformer that can be plugged into any standard electrical outlet, so no wiring is required. With the development of more reliable solar cells and batteries, solar outdoor lighting is now more dependable and even easier to install than the low voltage lighting systems. On most of these types of lights, you mount them, allow them to charge up and then turn them on. The only problem associated with many of them is placing them in the wrong location so they don't get enough light.

Make sure, too, that the entire area around your house can be well lit. Install floodlights over the driveway and at the back of the house; if you can position lights so every door and window in the house is covered, you can scare away nearly any burglar.

Once you have the basics taken care of, then a home security system (intruder alalrm) may be a worthwhile investment.