Keeping your home safe is incredibly important. It’s where we spend the majority of our time. Home improvement and home security became a focus for many Central Florida families in 2020 as we sheltered in place in our houses. You don’t have to hire someone to come into your house or spend a lot of money on an expensive home security system. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself and your family from would-be burglars with inexpensive, easy-to-install devices. Many of these can be easily ordered online so you don’t even have to visit the hardware store.
Secure windows with window locks. A pry bar can easily break through the factory latches on double-hung windows. An easy solution to keep your windows secure are pin locks which are only about $2 each. To install, drill a hole to lock the window when it’s closed and, if you want, another hole a few inches up to lock the window when it’s partially opened. These types of locks even work well on sliding patio doors.
Put up motion detector lights. A proven crime deterrent, motion detector lights are the best option to conserve energy and not annoy your neighbors or your family with bright lights. Standard hard-wired models cost as little as $15. If running a power supply would be difficult, there are even models that run on solar power. It’s also a good idea to have bright, motion sensing lights in the garage to bring attention to an open garage door as garage break-ins can be done quickly.
Install inexpensive door and window alarms. Burglars hate noise, so even a small alarm usually sends them running. Unlike a pro-installed monitored system, wireless alarms are activated by doors and windows opening. Attach the alarm to the door or window with a screw or double-sided tape alongside the magnetic contact strip. When the magnetic contact is broken, a piercing alarm shrieks. Use these alarms in ‘hidden’ areas of the house where you don’t normally gather or that are often dark.
Reinforce your door entry strike plate. Burglars can gain entry to your house with one well-placed kick or body slam that splits the doorjamb. You can drastically improve the strength of your doorjamb by installing longer strike plate screws that anchor into the stud behind the jamb. First, check to see if your strike plate needs reinforcing. To check, simply remove the strike plate. If it’s heavy steel with at least 3-in. screws, you’re good. (If your dead bolt was installed within the last 10 years, it’s probably already reinforced.)
Attach auxiliary locks to sliding doors. Most burglars don’t pick locks or break glass. They either kick in a door or pry open a window or sliding patio door. To secure a patio door, purchase an auxiliary security lock that fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet. There are also similar locks that attach to the top of the door. Both locks only take about 10 minutes to install and allow the door to open three inches without compromising security.
Beef up your wooden garage entry door. A flimsy wooden garage door has weak center panels that can easily be kicked in. Unfortunately, a deadbolt won’t solve this problem. The best way is to add a .5-in. plywood reinforcement panel and then bar it with 2x4s placed in bar-holder brackets. Cut the plywood to fit over the door’s center section (making sure that it doesn’t cover the door handle) and fasten it to the door with drywall screws. Test-fit a bracket and 2×4 against the door and measure how far the bracket is from the wall. Then, cut filler strips that distance and install them by drilling .25-in. pilot holes and inserting 3/8 x 3-in. lag screws. Finally, place the 2x4s in the brackets.
Protect your valuables with a small safe. For $100, you can get a safe that will protect against thieves. You just need to fasten it to the floor or a wall so an intruder can’t walk off with it. Hide it in the corner of a closet or another inconspicuous area. Better yet, mount a wall safe inside a wall and cover it with a picture or chip out a hole in your concrete slab and stick in a floor safe before pouring concrete around it.
Hide spare keys from intruders. Insurance companies may refuse to cover your losses if there’s no sign of forced entry, so instead of keeping a spare key in a mailbox, under the doormat or on a nail behind the garage, put it in a combination lock box. Screw it to a fence post or your house in an inconspicuous spot and secure it with four #10 x 2-in. stainless steel screws. You could also wrap the key in foil or put it in a 35mm film can and bury it where you can easily find it.
Add video surveillance to your home. Burglars are increasingly aware that they’re being watched, so a video camera can be a reliable deterrent. Just in case, though, purchase a system that features built-in sensors that are triggered by motion. Upon detecting movement, an alarm will go off and an alert will be sent to your smartphone—allowing you to see a short video clip that’s uploaded to the camera’s storage.
We hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe during this uncertain time.