The Best Way to Secure Your Home

When we talk about home security, we talk about a lot of thing.  There’s alarm systems, cameras, locks, lights, even weapons.  But what is the best way to secure your home?

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

That’s true when it comes to our health.  It’s true about our relationships.  I mean, it’s even true about home maintenance. Generally speaking, it’s better to keep things going smooth than to try to fix them after they’re broken.

The same is true about home security.

A lot of people think that they’ll manage their own home security with their guns, their other weapons, or even their superior fighting skills.  But wouldn’t it be better if we could just keep intruders out completely?

I recently heard a story in the news about a victim of a home intrusion who was shot by their own gun.  While being prepared to fight off intruders is good, it’s far better to keep them out of your house altogether.

Keep Intruders Out

Fighting off intruders should be the last line of defense.  In fact you should only even confront an intruder if you feel like your life or the lives of others in your home may be in danger.  It’s better to lose a few belongings than to lose your life.

So what’s the best way to defend your home?

Make it so you don’t have to do anything.

The best thing you can do is create a plan for your home’s security.  What exactly you need to do depends a lot on your home’s surroundings.  Do you live in an apartment or a house?  Do you live in the big city, or out on a farm?  Is the area well lit?  What’s the traffic like around your house?  These are all factors that determine what you might need to best defend your home.  But no matter what you do, the main thing you need to keep in mind is ‘how do I keep people from getting into my house in the first place?’

The Doors

The easiest entry point for most intruders is through a door.  To keep people from getting in, make sure your doors are hard to get through, and send the message that your house is the wrong house to try to break into.

For tips on securing your front door, read this article that talks all about what you can do to make it extremely hard to get through.  If you have a sliding door, you can learn how to make it impenetrable here.

Beyond making your door really hard to get through, you also need to make it risky for an intruder to try.  One of the least expensive things you can do is install a motion light by your front door.  If you want easy installation, try a battery powered motion sensor light.  I’ve tried solar powered ones in the past and haven’t been very impressed with their brightness.  The goal here is to make it hard for an intruder to break in without risking being seen.

The next step up would be to install a security camera above the front door.  If you do, I would install it at least 9 feet off the ground so it’s hard to reach.  And make sure you select one that has a wide viewing angle to make it hard for someone to approach the door without being seen on the camera.  You can see some of my favorite cameras in this article.

You can also make it clear to would-be burglars that your house isn’t the one to mess with by installing a security system and putting a sticker or yard sign up to warn them.  If you decide to go this route, I highly recommend one of the DIY systems.  I explained why here.  The main point is that the expensive monitored systems offer some benefits over the less expensive DIY systems, but they charge way too much for it.  If someone breaks into your house, they will likely be deterred by the alarm siren.  In fact, they probably won’t even try when they see the yard sign.  And since it usually takes several minutes for the police to arrive anyway, the monitoring doesn’t usually help as much as the security companies would like you to believe.

The main point here is that you need to make sure your doors are secure.  Do that, and you’ll deter most intruders.

The Windows

Some intruders are willing to bypass the doors and try your windows.  So how do you keep them out?

The first tip here is to lock them.  Yes, even the upstairs windows.  A lot of us have roofs that are easier to get onto than you might think.  If you have a trailer, a woodpile, or even a trash can nearby, someone may be able to climb right up onto your first floor roof.  From there, accessing second story windows is a breeze.

So make sure they’re locked.

Newer houses have double-paned windows made of strong glass that is not only harder to break, but louder when it does break compared to older windows.  This alone can be a deterrent.  But if you’re concerned about someone breaking your windows to get into your home, you might try some security film.  This is a great DIY way to make your windows extremely difficult to get through.  So much so that once an intruder tries and realizes they can’t get right inside, they’ll probably high tail it out of there.

The thing I like about security film is that it doesn’t make your house look like a prison like bars do.  In some cities, apartment windows on the first floor have bars on them to prevent intrusions.  Sometimes, you need that.  But in a lot of cases, security film will serve almost exactly the same purpose and still leave your house feeling inviting to friends.

Garages

Garages have become a very common point of entry for intruders.  First, because we usually don’t lock garage doors when they’re connected to a garage door opener.  And second, because the door from the garage to the house is usually not nearly as secure as the front door to the house.  Many times we leave that door unlocked.  And even eff we lock it, it’s usually not secured with a deadbolt, making it easy to pick or just kick in.

So make your garage door hard to get past.

Intruders have learned that with a wire coat hanger, they can make a hook that they slide up through the top of your garage door.  They use the hook to grab a hold of the string that hangs down from the garage door opener.  When they pull that string, the opener releases the garage door and an intruder and easily lift your door.  Check out this short video that shows you how it’s done.

We don’t usually think much about this because garage doors seem pretty sturdy, and when they’re connected to a garage door opener, they seem impossible to lift open.  But it really only takes a few seconds and a coat hanger to break it open.

But the fix is really simple.

That little tab you saw the hanger pull down on can easily be secured so that a coat hanger can’t pull it down.  I like to use a small zip tie.  You can buy a bag at the hardware store for a few dollars.  The tab usually has a small hole through it, so I run the zip tie through and connect it to the bracket above.  That makes it too strong for a coat hanger to pull down on, but still makes it easy enough for me to break off if I need to detach the door from the opener.

The Best Security Comes from Keeping Intruders Out

There’s a reason that strong fortresses were built in the middle ages.  Kings and rulers knew that the best way to keep themselves and their people safe, was to keep unwanted people from being able to get inside.

If you put a little thought into making the entrances to your home hard to get through, the chances that you’ll ever have to fight off an intruder will be extremely slim.  On top of that, if you signal to would-be intruders that breaking into your house would be risky for them, chances are they’ll pass.

So take the time to come up with a plan.  It doesn’t need to cost a fortune and it doesn’t need to be complicated.  The simpler the better.  But do what you need to do and do it soon.  If the day ever comes that someone tries to get inside your home, you’ll be glad you did.

Ricky Kesler

Ricky Kesler has been an avid DIYer for years. Recently he's really taken to home security, but he has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects from Plumbing to Electrical and Framing to Tiling.

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