Safe at HomeIn today’s uncertain world, ensuring that your family is safe at home has become a growing concern. While it is virtually impossible to completely secure your home, the good news is that you don’t have to. Experts tell us that criminals are opportunists who typically look for easy targets. Taking a few simple steps like the ones mentioned here can make your home far less appealing to them and have them searching elsewhere for easier prey.

Install a security system.  There are many good and affordable security companies serving our area today. No matter which you select, there are some basic services you’ll want to include. First, make certain that all of your doors – including any side doors and garage doors – are monitored (preferably hard-wired). Install motion detectors in key areas (these can be placed high enough so pets won’t trigger them) and glass breakage sensors. Some companies allow you to monitor your system while you’re away from home and even offer recording options in case you need to refer back to a certain date. While obviously a functioning system is best, some experts note that just having a sign in the yard or a sticker on your door serves as a deterrent for those who can’t afford a monitored system.

Upgrade your locks. Many new homes were built with basic locks that are easy for a criminal to defeat. The few hundred dollars it takes to upgrade to a quality lockset like one made by Schlage will make a huge difference in your safety. When examining locksets, opt for deadbolts with internal shrouds and sets with three to four inch screws to ensure a solid grip.

Bolster your doors. Unfortunately, your lock is only as secure as the frame it’s in. You can consult a locksmith or a builder on methods to secure your existing door system. When we install doors, we use steel or wire mesh that’s hidden behind the door jams – once you screw the lockset into this backing, it’s as secure as a commercial-quality lock and frame.

Lock your windows. It doesn’t matter how secure your door is if you neglect your windows. Make sure you have screw-type locks on any first-floor double hung windows and make sure that latches fit snugly.

Light your way. Establishing a solid foundation lighting plan accomplishes several goals. Visually, it increases your home’s curb appeal. It also makes it safer for residents who have to navigate the property at night – whether you are coming home late or simply letting the dog out for a run. Finally, it deters criminals who prefer to work under the cover of darkness. Lights set on motion detectors can be artfully worked in to landscape lighting plans. Consider placing these at strategic corners of your property. A great and cost-effective option is to install bright halogen lights in strategic places – think front and rear entrances and garages – that can be turned on via a switch in the master bedroom. That way, if you hear noises outside, you can switch on exterior lights from the safety of your bedroom.

Don’t neglect your garage. For many people, the garage serves as their home’s main entrance. Take care of it by ensuring that it has proper internal and external lighting, that the lock from the garage into your home is of the highest quality and that its doorframe is secure. Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings when getting into and out of your car and make certain that you always close the garage door – from a place in your driveway where you can visually see it close completely – when leaving your home.

Clear the air. Finally, when planning and maintaining your landscaping, don’t neglect security. Keep bushes pruned back and avoid planting shrubbery that is large enough to conceal a person near any entrance. The old advice of planting thorny or prickly plants under first floor windows has some merit. Remember, anything you can do to discourage or delay a thief really does go a long way toward preventing a crime.