HARDENING YOUR HOME AGAINST HOME INVASION
You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Locks only keep honest people honest.” That’s true to some extent. However, it’s mostly true due to the ways that people use those locks, more than anything else. If you follow the conventional wisdom on home security, then all you’re going to do is to keep the honest people honest. That’s because you’re depending upon the assumption that an attacker doesn’t want to damage your home to gain access. But what if they don’t care about damaging it?
You can do everything you’re supposed to do to make your home secure, but the bad guys can still get in. Front doors are supposed to be secured with a deadbolt, but a dead-bolted door can be kicked open fairly easily. That’s because the deadbolt is only going into the door’s frame, which is easy to break. Locked windows and patio doors are a joke. Forget about defeating the lock, what about breaking the glass? That’s all it takes to gain access.
In normal times, what keeps criminals from breaking into your home is the fear of being caught. They’re afraid that if they make noise kicking open your front door or breaking a window, it will attract attention, leading to a call to the local police department. But in a crisis situation, when people are desperate, they won’t be fazed by having to make a little noise to get into your home, especially if they think you’ve got food and supplies that they need in there.
To prevent break-ins, you need to harden your home. That means taking a number of measures which will make it much harder to break into. It will always be possible to break in; but if you can make it hard enough to break in, most will turn away and look for an easier target.
When you rest for the night, always make sure that you keep your house well lit throughout the night. Doing this will discourage would-be criminals. In your backyard or lawns, never leave heavy objects that can be used to throw through windows. Also, posting alarm and warning signs on your home’s exterior can make a big difference.
It is also wise to invest in security cameras with motion sensors, IR and a solid recording device like a DVR if you have enough budget. And if you have already installed these devices in your home, make sure that you house your camera recording system in a lock box so that the would-be criminals can’t take the recording of their crimes.
If you plan to go on a trip with your friends or family, it is also a good option to install internet cameras at your home so that you can still monitor it even if you are away. Finally, before leaving your homes, always lock your doors or gate if you have one. And when you come home and you think your house has been illegally entered, the best thing to do is to call the police immediately. Never enter your home for your safety until the police has arrived.
Your front door is either solid wood or metal-clad wood. That makes the door itself hard to break. However, the home can still be broken into. The door’s frame is usually 3/4″ thick pine. A hole is drilled into this board for the deadbolt to go into. However, the hole is only 1/2″ to 3/4″ from the edge. So, it’s easy to break the deadbolt out of the frame, making it easy to break into the home.
This problem can be solved by adding a security striker plate. This is a metal plate that replaces both the door lock and deadbolt striker plates. It spreads the force of any kick across a larger area, making it virtually impossible to break in through that door.
The security striker plate needs to be installed with 3 1/2″ case hardened screws. These will be long enough to go through the door frame and into the structural wood studs behind the frame. That increases the strength considerably, as the structural studs are much stronger than the door frame.
While you are at it, replace the normal door hinges with security hinges, mounting them with the same case-hardened screws. Security hinges are made with a tab in one leaf, that fits into a hole in the other leaf. When the door is closed, this arrangement acts like a mini-deadbolt, adding a lot of strength to the door closure.
One other thing you can do is to add a door club. This is a manual device that attaches the door to the floor, acting as a secondary deadbolt. The only problem is that the door club has to be manually put in place, once everyone is in and the home is shut for the night. Considering that they aren’t all that common, most criminals won’t even look for the door club when they are trying to break into home.
Windows are extremely easy to break through, considering that they’re made of glass. This makes the idea of locking a window almost a joke. While the lock will keep someone from sliding the window open, it won’t keep them out.
There are two ways of securing windows, both of which work fairly well. The first is to install window bars. These are common in the southwest, where the idea has migrated from Mexico. Window bars are generally made to order by a welding shop. There are some available at the major home improvement centers, but they are not very strong.
The second way of hardening a window is to cover the inside of the window with security window film. This plastic film holds the glass together and doesn’t allow it to fall out, even if the glass is broken. In this, it acts much like the center layer of a car’s windshield.
Window film comes in a variety of thicknesses, ranging from 2 mils thick to 12 mils thick. The thicker the film the more security it provides and the more it costs. Even so, the most expensive window film is less expensive than putting burglar bars on the window.
When you’re figuring security for your windows, don’t forget any windows in the front door or the door sidelights, if your house has them. The best door security won’t do you a bit of good, if they can break out the glass and open the door.
Most modern houses have sliding glass patio doors. These are even more insecure than glass windows. All criminals have to do is break the window or pop the door off the track. The tricks that are talked about to keep criminals from popping a sliding glass door off the track will work, if they are properly done; but that won’t keep anyone out who really wants in.
The best thing to do from a home security point of view is to take out the sliding glass door and replace it with a standard solid-core door, like your front door. Of course, many people won’t want to do that, as it makes it hard to keep an eye on the kids in the backyard.
You can still secure a sliding glass door the same ways that you can secure windows. After all, it’s really just a big window. So, adding burglar bars or security window film will make the door much more secure.
At home, always keep your cell phone close to you in case you need to call another person or 911. If you can get a security alarm with interior motion detectors installed at your home, do it. Set the alarm even if you are awake because criminals sometimes think that alarms are only set up when the owners of the house goes to sleep.
In the event of home invasion, have a plan for your family or roommates. Assign responsibilities to each member and device a plan that in case your home is invaded, you will have an efficient plan for escape. The importance of home security should be discussed to everyone. There should also be a safe room to be considered as a rally point for you and your house mates to protect yourselves and call for help. Stash a spare cell phone in your safe room. A barking dog is also helpful and can bring unwanted attention to a potential burglar.
If you have important and expensive items in your homes, keep a record of each items serial numbers. Doing this can help in returning your property if it is stolen. In case you’ve lost your house key, make sure to replace your lock. Only distribute spare house keys to your house mates or family members. Bolt down your filling cabinets and safes. Expensive items like your bikes and four-wheelers should also be all locked up. Shred all personal documents using a cross-cut shredder. This includes credit card offers and envelopes with the name of your bank.
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