Keeping Your Home Secure

How do you guard your home from intruders? The best solution is a combination of safeguards like the following:

■ Start with solid entry doors equipped with high-quality locks. The doors should be solid-core or made with heavy panels. A deadbolt lock with a bolt that slides deep into the door’s frame is far superior to a handle lock or a rim lock. Equip the garage door with a solid lock as well. If an entry door has its hinges facing out rather than in, a burglar can easily pop the hinge pins and open the door. Install special hinges that make this impossible.

■ Windows are the next most common point of illegal entry. Choose from a wide assortment of locking and securing options. Pay special attention to basement windows and consider installing glass block.

■ When you are gone, create the illusion that your home is occupied. Program timers to turn lights on and off. You may want to put a radio or even a TV on the timer as well. Have a neighbor collect newspapers and mail; piled-up papers are a dead giveaway that you’re out of town.

■ Hide your valuables in unusual locations. Better yet, buy a safe. A fire-resistant safe can also keep your precious photographs safe from harm. If you buy a money chest, install it in a masonry wall, where it will be difficult to remove. The most secure method is to have a safe set into the concrete of a foundation wall.

■ Consider having an alarm system installed. A typical system has sensors at every door and window, as well as a control panel that is turned off and on by use of a secret code. When a window or door is opened and the control panel is not turned off, a loud alarm sounds, and the security company is alerted. The company may send its own personnel, or it may contact the police.

■ In addition, consider installing an intercom system as well as security lighting.

Choosing an Intercom System - An entryway intercom lets you check the identity, from a safe distance, of anyone who visits your home. It also can be used to control a buzzer-latch on an entry garden gate. A complete intercom system can also monitor a sleeping baby, pipe music through the house, and generally ease communication. Intercoms vary in complexity, but the hard-wired types operate on low voltages, stepped down via a transformer, from your home’s electrical system. This makes them relatively easy and safe to install. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Your biggest challenge will be unobtrusively routing or fishing wires from one room to another. Newer wireless intercoms skip this step by using your household wiring to carry voice communication, but they don’t give you the option of buzzing open locked doors.

The basic components. The master station contains circuitry that lets you call any or all of the substations. It also may include a radio. Substations have a combined speaker and microphone with switches that transfer from listen to talk modes. Outdoor substations often include a button to sound the doorbell or chimes. Others just beep or buzz.

Running the wires. Low-voltage wiring is similar to that used for telephones. Often, you can run it along moldings.

Using Lights for Safety and Security

Thoughtfully planned outdoor lighting not only lights your path, but also repels potential intruders. Photoelectric cell lights in the yard and at the eaves detect movement and turn on when they sense movement. If the lights flood the yard, a burglar will likely be deterred.

When you are away from the house, hook interior lights to timers to orchestrate the illusion that the home is occupied. For example, you might program lights to let a living room lamp burn until bedtime, then turn on your usual night-light. More expensive versions control several lights on different programs. You can override most timers when you wish. Check with your local home center or hardware store for other up-to-the-minute devices and techniques.

Using timers. Plug a clock timer into an electric outlet, set the times, then plug in a floor or table lamp. To make it sound as if you are home during the day, program a timer to turn on a radio in the morning and then to turn it off at night.

Photo-cell lights. Inexpensive photoelectric cells sense darkness and turn lights on and off so you don’t need to switch them.

Placing outdoor lights. Position lights not only to illuminate your way at night but also to make any possible intruder feel exposed. Photoelectric cells ensure that strategic outdoor fixtures will turn on, whether you’re home or not.

Programmable timer. You can replace a regular wall switch with a programmable timer that turns lights off and on at preset hours.

Porch or eaves lights. A pair of eaves fixtures at one corner or above a porch or deck can illuminate two sides of your home with 40- or 60-watt floodlight bulbs. Inexpensive units can be controlled by a motion sensor or by an interior light switch.

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