Making Your Home Safe

by Jon Nunan

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There are many questions to ask if you want to make your home safer. Is your primary concern keeping would-be intruders at bay? Are you planning on staying in this house for many years, or are you likely to move within the next five? Is a home monitoring service worth the cost? Is your house left empty frequently? Before you spend any money on home security upgrades, these questions should have definite answers. Here are few home security tips to get you going and a couple helpful notes on cheap security equipment that is both easy to install and effective, too.

Are Easy Security Systems Worth It?
These days, cheap security equipment is everywhere, but understanding what equipment is right for your situation can be very confusing. In many cases, easy security systems are a snap to install and very affordable, but don't end up doing your home a whole lot of good because they don't focus on the right areas. The best way to make your home safer is to hire a home security specialist to examine your property and give you detailed feedback regarding your home's problem spots. However, there are a few things you can do on your own to identify problem areas and figure out what should be done about them.

Make Your Home Safer: Focusing on Windows and Doors
Since your average burglar is unlikely to blast a hole in your walls to enter the house, the areas that you need to focus on are entryways. All of your doors and windows (including second-story and basement windows and your garage door) should be fitted with locks that cannot be accessed from the outside. It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised at the percentage of intruders that gain access to a home through an unlocked entryway!

And remember, once you've made sure that every possible entrance has a lock, make sure you use that lock consistently!

Lighting, Landscaping, and Fencing to Make Your Home Safer
The basics of home security begin long before you ever consider installing an alarm system. Your home's exterior lighting and landscaping can be a huge deterrent to the majority of burglars, as they tend to be opportunistic and will often skip houses that they don't deem to be easy targets.

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Exterior lighting with motion detection will make burglars easy to see at night, increasing the chances that they will get spooked or that a neighbor will spot them and call the police. To make this lighting more effective, keep your shrubs trim and low (to reduce shadows and possible hiding spaces) and trim away tree branches that come close to your home (to make higher-up windows less accessible).

Fences give your home an added measure of privacy and can provide an obstacle not only to the would-be burglar but also allow you to let your children and/or pets play in the yard without worrying about them wandering off. And don't forget to have your house number clearly marked at the street-side entrance of your home (and on the curb, if possible) so that emergency personnel can easily find it if a problem does arise!

Install Cheap Security Equipment
While alarm systems offer little physical protection, they offer considerable psychological deterrence for the average burglar. Spending a ton of money on the best system available is not a bad idea, but since visible, cheap security equipment is a powerful deterrent in itself, many find that the high-end stuff simply goes to waste. In fact, many homeowners have avoided burglary simply by putting a sign in their lawn or a sticker on their window that claims a security system is in place (even though it isn't)! By this rationale, putting up a few inexpensive cameras around your property in plain view can play a very important role in making your home safer.

Of course, there are benefits that come with skipping the cheap security equipment and installing a more high-end system. The main advantage of having a high-tech, monitored security system is that you'll have protection while you are away from home. Whether you're at work or on vacation, a monitoring service will be keeping watch over your property and ready to contact the police at the first sign of intruders, fire, or suspicious activity. Monitored security service makes your life easy; security systems are not infallible, however, so don't forget your common sense. Keep valuable belongings away from windows that can be seen from the street to make your home less desirable for burglary, and always keep your system operating. All that equipment and each of those monthly monitoring fees amount to nothing if your system isn't on!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.