Home Safety Tips: Choosing And Installing A Home Safety System

Keeping your family safe can be as simple as checking your locks - do a safety audit and create your own home safety system!

In today's world security concerns have moved to the top of the list for a family's priorities - everything from preparing for a natural disaster to reinforcing the safety of your own home. But where do you start when you want to make your house more secure and safe for your family?

There are a plethora of private organizations and companies out there ready and willing to supply your needs, but you should do a personal assessment of your situation and what you want before calling out the experts. Depending on your budget and needs, you may find everything you need at the local hardware store!

First, take a walk around your house in the daylight. Put yourself into the mind of a criminal seeking entry to your home; look at everything with that jaded view. Are the hedges so high that someone can hide behind them, jumping out as you walk up to your front door? Are those rose bushes in a perfect spot to hide a potential thief as he studies you and your habits?

Study the landscaping around your home with an eye towards safety. High bushes may be beautiful and ornamental, but they can provide a hiding place for either someone to watch your family and record their routines or for a direct assault on you as you walk up to the front door, keys in hand. Rose and flower bushes may look wonderful when they bloom, but if they offer protection to anyone seeking to hide, they're a liability and you may want to consider having them cut back or removed totally. Ornate sculptures and small pools may add beauty to your front or back yards, but they can be used to hide potential criminals or give them easier access to your house. Imagine someone climbing up that beautiful statue to hop onto your balcony on the second floor - where the door is never locked.

Look at the different ways you can approach your front and back door. Are they exposed and welllit, or hidden in the shadows? Can you "sneak" in the back door without anyone noticing or caring? Because if you can, be assured that a thief can without much worry. Too many times people fail to see that what they perceive as a "bonus" may be a major liabilty for their friends and family.

Look at the windows as you continue your walkaround. Are the locks secure, or can you push the window open without much effort? Are they hidden behind a garden shed or well-illuminated and open to the public, so anyone standing there to work on it for a few minutes would arouse suspicions? While you don't want to make your home a fortress, you do want to make sure that if anyone attempts to break in you make it as hard as possible for them.

Now that you've done it in the daylight, do the same at night. Again, look at it from a criminal point of view with an eye towards breaking in and/or possibly assaulting one of your family members as they go from the car into the safety of the home.

Is your garage secure at all times? You'd be surprised how often people lock their homes and yet leave the doors open to their garages. This gives a criminal a place to hide; easy access to power tools and items stored inside the garage and time to work on breaking into your home from a secure position out of sight of curious neighbours. Not to mention providing them with a variety of tools and potential weapons to arm themselves with.

Now that you've assessed your situation, you may want to create your own home security system instead of paying for it. Be warned, good security doesn't come cheap, so be prepared for a good investment in your home and your safety.

The first and cheapest avenue is good lighting. Every exit and entrance to your home should have a regular light that you can turn on and off via a switch from inside the house and one light that is connected to a motion detector. Many hardware stores carry devices that will turn the light on if the sensor detects any motion in the area it's been pointed to scan. Obviously you may have to refine the degree of the sensitivity so that a squirrel dashing across your back porch sets it off, but a bright light is the best defense against a thief standing there and taking the time to break in. Just be sure that if you do play with the settings for the detector that you take into consideration that even a stray dog can be threatening in the right circumstances.

Every door into your home should be brightly illuminated as well as the driveway and the back yard on motion detectors. While no one wants their house to be lit up like a Christmas tree every night, motion detectors provide a great way to make sure that those lights come on when needed, even to give you a brighter view of your doorway and garage.

Check the locks on each and every door into your home. While most doors come supplied with deadbolts, over the years the wood can become soft and rotted, allowing a strong person easy access with a good hard shove. Even if you add additional locks if the doorframe itself is rotten or weak, you're not adding any extra security. The expense of having a doorframe replaced pales next to the cost, emotional and financial, of having your home invaded. If you're satisified that your current locks are secure, consider adding more if you wish or changing the locks.

That hidden key under the doormat may have gotten you in twice in the past year when you misplaced your original copies, but be aware that a good thief not only knows it's there but has already made copies and placed the original back under the mat, without your knowledge.

Extra keys should never be kept on the premises under any circumstances, whether they're hidden in a flowerbox or under a doormat or in a quaint troll sculpture in the garden. If you must keep copies of your house keys, place them with a trusted neighbour or family member who you can call and request the key from. Many homeowners are surprised to find out exactly how many copies of their house keys are floating around between children, friends and relatives. It may require the services of a locksmith, but at least you'll know exactly how many copies are out there and with whom.

Hardware stores now supply inexpensive motion alarms that you can connect to your windows and unused doors. These will set out a loud audible alarm if the electric connection is broken and draw your attention (along with the neighbours) immediately to the specific location and alert everyone to the presence of a stranger. Batteries usually power these small alarms, keeping them out of your house's main electrical system and independent in the case of a power failure. You may want to consider these also for doors that you use infrequently, such as back doors into garages or into storage sheds. Just be aware that while an audible alarm is good, it's not going to be much help if no one pays attention to it because it's going off all the time accidentally. Make sure that if you do alarm a window or door that everyone understands that the alarm is to be disconnected if they want to open it or to leave it alone except in the case of an emergency.

If you decide to go to a professional alarm salesman you can put all of this knowledge and research to use, presenting them with a full survey of your needs and what you want to have done. Most alarm companies will offer monthly subscription services and will automatically call the police and/or fire departments depending on the alarm that is set off. The only caveat, and it's a viable concern, is the possibility of a false alarm where you can't deactivate the alarm system fast enough. As well, most of these companies will encourage you to expand your coverage and continue to pay a subscription fee. Depending on your needs, you may wish to go this route.

Either way you choose; being aware of your home's weaknesses and trying to improve your home security can never be a bad thing. By performing a security audit of your home you can see flaws and choose whether to change something or not. Maybe your grandfather planted those hedges and you don't want to remove them; perhaps another famous relative installed this ancient back door. All these options have to be taken into consideration as you find a compromise between reinforcing your house and keeping it a home for your family and friends.

In the end you will have a secure home for your family and the knowledge that you've done all you can to create a safe environment for them. It may cost a little time and money, but you'll reap the benefits for years to come - even if you may have to cut down some of the bushes!

© High Speed Ventures 2011