• Patio Doors

Patio doors are another weak link in the security chain. They suffer from the combined weaknesses of windows and doors.

  • To prevent sliding glass doors from being lifted from their frames, install shims along the top frames. These fit in the tracks between the top of the door and frame and prevent the door from being raised high enough to be removed.

  • Patio door locks are not particularly reliable. Install locking pins which go through the doors and frames.

  • A thick wooden dowel or piece of angle iron placed along the bottom track of a sliding door will wedge it shut and prevent it from being opened even if someone breaks the lock. You can also drill through the door frames where they overlap and insert a hollow screw which will prevent the doors from moving.

  • Exterior Doors
  • Wooden exterior doors should be of solid core construction. For the best protection, doors should be metal with metal frames. Metal frames are less susceptible to tampering than wooden frames.

  • Glass panel doors should have either safety tempered or security screen glass if breaking the glass would allow someone to reach through the door to unlock it.

  • Standard key-in-the-knob locks provide little security. All exterior doors should include deadbolt locks with at least a one-inch throw. Deadbolt locks are available with single or double cylinders. Double cylinder locks provide additional security because they require a key for operation from both outside and inside, preventing someone from being able to open the door by breaking a glass, reaching in and flipping the bolt. Keys should be readily available to people trying to get out of the house, however, in case of an emergency.

  • Exterior doors should not be hinged to open outward. In this case, the door can be taken down by removing the hinge pins. Remount the door with the hinges inside. If this is not possible, install hinges with non-removable pins.

  • Don't hide your keys on or around the house, and never put your name on your key chain. An honest person might return your keys, but a dishonest person would have access to everything they were made for--and could find out where you live!

  • Windows

All windows should be locked or pinned. Commercial products are available to do the job, but even if you don't have the budget for commercial hardware, several simple and inexpensive solutions are available to greatly increase the security of your windows.

Drill a 3/16 "hole through the inside window frame and into, but not through, the outside frame. A pin, nail or bolt can be inserted into this hole, securely locking the window closed. Taking the extra time to thread a bolt into this hole will prevent someone from being able to open the window even if they break the glass to undo the stock window latch. The bolt could be easily backed out with a screwdriver when you need to open the window.

Pay special attention to basement windows. Bushes or trees may hide these windows, providing a place for criminals to work without being seen. You may wish to reinforce the windows with security bars, wire mesh or Plexiglas.

  • Draw Attention to the Crime

Noise is another of the burglar's worst enemies, and you can generate a lot of it with the many alarm systems now available. From monitored and hard-wired systems, to battery powered local alarm components, there are many options available. Having an alarm system may certainly reduce the possibility of a burglar successfully robbing your home, and may increase the possibility that you or a neighbor will see something that may incriminate the bumbling burglar who was unfortunate enough to set it off. Alarms do not, however, reduce the need for adequate locks and other security measures.

  • Alarm Systems

Monitored alarm systems are the most effective, but also the most expensive. With these system, the monitoring company automatically calls your home when the alarm goes off. If there is no answer, or if the person who answers gives the wrong password, the police are dispatched to your house. Before investing in one of these systems, shop around and collect references from installers and monitoring companies.

Unmonitored alarms serve a single purpose--they are obnoxious and nerve-racking by design to draw attention to themselves and, by extension, to any criminal activities that may be taking place in their vicinity. They are deterrents only. If ignored, they will do nothing to prevent a burglary, and unmonitored alarms depend upon someone in the neighborhood to call the police. Many of these types of alarms are no longer expensive and can be purchased and installed easily by homeowners.

  • In Case the Burglar Succeeds

If your alarms and neighborhood watch work well, and if your local police respond quickly, your family stands a reasonable chance of losing little property in a burglary. Nothing ruins a burglar's day when she is trying to steal someone's property quite like seeing the flashing lights of police cars. Unfortunately, burglary victims seldom see their valuable property again once it has successfully been stolen. There are steps that should be taken by every homeowner, which will help when the time comes to settle with their insurance company.

  • Maintain lists and photographs or videotapes of your possessions. This will make it easier for the insurance company to establish the value of the possessions, which have been stolen (or lost in a disaster).

  • Keep these lists, photos and videotapes, as well as special items like small family heirlooms or small objects of high value, in a fireproof safe. These safes are readily available and are thorns in the sides of fleet-footed criminals.

  • Mark your valuables with an engraver or ultra-violet marker. If any items are recovered, even if they are damaged, the fact that they are clearly marked as being yours may be useful evidence in the case against the person who violated your home.

  • Home Security and Fire Safety

Sometimes, families seeking to protect themselves from one hazard unknowingly put themselves at risk from others. For example, home security can protect people from intruders, but it can also be harmful if security features prevent quick escape during a fire emergency. Home security and fire safety can and should work together and you are encouraged to examine entryways, both doors and windows, to make sure home security doesn't interfere with your fire escape plan.

  • Security Locks

Every home entry door should be equipped with a sturdy dead-bolt lock that is properly installed and maintained in good working condition. When choosing deadbolt locks for your home, keep the following guidelines in mind.

Avoid two-keyed deadbolt locks that require a key on both the inside and outside of an entry door. These keyed locks can trap people inside if there is a fire. Keys can easily be misplaced when the deadbolt is locked, making it impossible to escape.

  • Replace any two-keyed entry locks with common deadbolt locks that only require keyed entry from the outside and have a turning or "throwing" bolt or latch inside.

  • If your home entry doors have two-keyed deadbolt locks, protect your family in the meantime by keeping the key to your deadbolt on a hook near the door but away from any windows. Make sure all responsible family members know exactly where to find the key and how to use it quickly in an emergency.

  • Window Security/Burglar Bars

Security bars on doors and windows can provide a strong defense against intruders and give families greater confidence in their home's safety. However that same strength can prove deadly in a fire emergency. Bars welded over an escape route not only trap victims inside; they also prevent firefighters from being able to get them out. Families need to evaluate their fire escape route to make sure security measures do not hinder a quick escape:

Bars on doors and windows can provide a strong defense against intruders and give families greater confidence in their home's security. However that same strength can prove deadly in a fire emergency. New research shows that home fires grow so fast and spread so quickly that people may three minutes or less to survive a fire and its deadly smoke. Bars welded over an escape route not only trap victims inside; they also prevent firefighters from being able to get them out. Families need to make sure security measures do not slow down a quick escape:

  • In rooms with window bars, install a quick-release mechanism on at least one exit.

  • Purchase quick-release devices together with new bars, or have them installed on bars that are currently in your home.

  • In an emergency you can use the release device to quickly unlock the bars from inside, usually with a lever or pedal, to make your escape path clear for immediate exit.

  • Know that quick-release devices can only be opened from the inside of the home, and do not affect your home's security.

  • Contact an iron contractor to have quick-release devices installed on security bars in your home.

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