Tips On How To Secure Your Home

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Home_SecurityLiving on the outskirts of town near a major road got me to thinking about security for my home. Since we basically gutted the home and started over remodeling it, I pretty much had a blank slate to work with. I know this home was broken into back in the 90′s according to the neighbors. A few years later there was a fire that damaged half the home. This information just reinforced what I and all homeowners should keep in mind. Things happen and not always to other people. We need to prepare as best we can for the worse and pray for the best as the old saying goes. This is part of being self reliant no matter where you live.

I kept the security portion of the plans I had for the home in mind as I worked on the home. It’s an older home and well built. If you’ve been around new home construction and then have ample opportunity to examine these older homes, the quality of homes built in the past quickly comes to the fore front as opposed to the “throw ‘em up overnight” homes of today. For this, I was glad!

Here’s where I made some changes to the home and the future plans I have for securit around the house.

Entry – Exit Doors

I first started by reinforcing the doors. I don’t know how many of you have actually tried to bust down a door, but it’s pretty darn easy these days. The hinges are generally held on by small (and sometimes short) wood screws. These will give way much faster than your deadbolt!

What I did was remove the entry/exit doors and replaced them with metal entry/exit doors from ThermaTru. Next I removed the old door frames and used some plate steel between the rough frame and the new door frame. The opening in the rough frame of this home is very tight, for which I was glad. I then measured where the hinge bolts would be located as well as the strike plates and drille holes where they needed to go. I then found some machine bolts that fit the hinges. these bolts go all the way through the door frame, plate steel and the rough frame and then a washer and nut are screwed down.

I also searched for, and found, some dead bolt locks on the Internet that would go through the door frame and the plate steel. Normally when a door is busted down, the dead bolt lock just barely goes pass the thin door frame itself. When the bust the door, the bolt on the dead bolt lock normally takes a hunk of door frame wood with it as it gives way.

Now if someone tries to bust down the door, they’ll be in for a surprise when it doesn’t give like everyone elses.

I then did all the bedroom doors this way. My way of thinking is that this may not stop an intrusion, but it will slow ‘em down until help can be called for (remember, we live on the outskirts of town) and the appropriate defensive action can be taken on my part (or my Wife’s).

Window Security

Windows. I thought about ordering those hurricane proof windows for our home. But there are a number of safety concerns surround such windows and I do not want to take those risk. Some of the concerns are that the glass will not break. Firefighters have had trouble gaining entry into homes with these windows, having to use chainsaws in order to get in. In case my Wife or daughter can not get out of the house in a fire or unlock the window for whatever reason, I don’t want them to be unable to pick up something and bust the window out.

Most window locks are made out of cheap cast aluminum. if you’ve ever had a stubborn lock to break while locking one, then you know how flimsy they are. I wanted something stronger. Also for fire safety, I passed on the little aluminum blocks with thumb screws that go on the edge of the window frame. I don’t want to be trying to get these things loose in case of a fire.

What I finally settled on were some locks called Safety 1st Pro Grade Window Locks. These locks have a red/green indicator telling you when they’re locked and when they’re not. Comes in handy for kids and the Wife. They take one look and can tell if the window is locked or not. They also operate with a push of a button. There’s no fumbling with cheap locks or trying to unscrew the clamp type locks.

Whole House Security System

Have you ever seen the commercial for a National Security Company? You know the one, the poor lady is home alone, or the Mom is home with the kids, and someone busts down the door. She screams, the alarm sounds and the bad guy runs away just as the Security Company is calling to see if they are alright.

Folks, it just doesn’t happen that way!

Every commercial Alarm company I’ve ever worked with have alarms that have at least a 60 second delay when triggered. This is so you’ll have time to arm the alarm and get out before it arms itself or, for you to come in and unarm the alarm when you get home.

Plus, when they do call you, after the 60 or so seconds, they’ll want you to provide them with a code. If you can’t do that, or provide them with the wrong code, then they will notify the authorities.

In the ten plus years I worked in the Inspection/Consultation field, I’ve set off a few alarms. Whether it was the County Sheriff’s Office or the City, the quickest a Cop showed up was 45 minutes after I set the alarm off. Some took an hour and half.

So don’t think that pricey alarm will save you. All it does is warn the Crook that someone may have been notified. A wise crook knows how long they have before Cops will show up or before an alarm will actually sound.

The reason I had a security system installed is so that when we’re away, someone will be notified in the event of a burglary or fire. If it wasn’t for that, I’d buy door and window alarms and be done with it.

Outside The Home

Take a good long look at the outside of your home. If you wanted to break in, where are the weak spots? Where do you think you could get in without being noticed?

Walk around your home. Look for any loose items someone could use to break a window or use to bash in your door. Iron patio furniture, flower pots, rocks, etc. can all be used to get inside your home. There’s a show on TV (or there was) called “It Takes A Thief”. It was about these two ex-thieves who would break into people’s homes to show them the weak points in their home security. Even when the homeowners knew they were coming, they couldn’t prevent these ex-crooks from breaking in.

It’s amazing the extent some crooks will go to in order to gain entry to your home. Make it as hard as possible by being aware and putting up tools, ladders and other items someone could use to get into your home.

I put motion sensing flood lights at each of my exit doors. If you have pets, you’ll need to adjust them so your pet doesn’t set them off, but where a human could.

Speaking of pets, if you have a pet door, it’s an invitation for a crook to come in and help their self. Get rid of it.

Also, a dog that barks at people is a great asset. Crooks hate barking dogs, especially if they think the dog will bite. Just make sure the dog doesn’t bark at anything that moves, like leaves, blades of grass or their own shadow. People tend to tune out habitual barking dogs.

Finally, I bought a security camera system off line and have it hooked up to an old computer of mine. It records images and even has a night vision mode so it can record in the dark. I have these viewing every door to the home. They really weren’t all that expensive either. I’ve seen some of these system with 2 or 3 camera’s on them for $200 or less (I paid quite a bit for mine due to upgrades like night vision capability).

Securing Valuable Items

You know, it doesn’t do any good for us to buy up supplies then have them taken by a crook.  For most of us, it will next to impossible to secure every valuable we have in a home. So we must decide on what items are most valuable to us and secure those.

This is where a good safe will come into play.

My Wife and I kicked around the idea of buying a safe. We finally decided that we needed one and so the search started for a good quality safe at an affordable price.

Of course my first choice would be a Fort Knox safe, but they are really pricey.

Although a home intrusion concerns me, a house fire concerns me more when thinking about a safe. I believe most safes will keep a crook at bay. Let’s face it, most burglaries are smash and grabs. For the most part, crooks aren’t going to hang around your home long enough to get the safe open, or even spend a lot of time trying. They’re after the easy score. That’s why they’re crooks!

My main concern was finding a home safe with a high fire rating. Most of the safes on the low end of the price range we looked at had a 1200 degree at 30 minutes fire rating. While at the high end, some of the Fort Knox safes had a 90 minute at 1680 degrees fire rating.

Which one would you want your valuables in in case of a break-in or fire?

Like I said above, Fort Knox safes are pricey!

The only other option I could think of was to buy one of the medium price ranged safes that had a 45 minute or better fire rating at 1200 degrees and then put our valuable papers in a document safe from Sentry Safe. The ones we’re looking into are the Sentry Fire chest which generally cost under $100. After we put our valuable documents in these safe boxes, it will then go into the large safe. This should give us plenty of fire protection for our paper.

Now the only thing I’d have to worry about is the fire getting hot enough to damage my guns and other items in the safe. Not sure how hot a house fire gets, but our Safe will be on an outside wall so I’m hoping it will be lower than 1200 after 30 minutes!

In conclusion

Like most of you, I work too damn hard to have my belongings stolen by some low life punk crook who doesn’t want to work and who would rather steel for a living. It’s my job to make it as hard as I can for them to get my stuff. They may get it, but it’s very likely they’ll pay a hefty price for it.

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