How secure is your home? If you’re like most people, you don’t have a way to confidently answer that question. Sure, your home feels like it’s secure, but is it really?
“Secure” can be a somewhat subjective term. What counts as “secure” for one person might be inherently insecure for another. That said, there are some things you can check in and around your home to accurately evaluate your own level of home security – and potentially make the upgrades you feel are necessary to make you feel safer.
What to Check in a Home Security Assessment
These are some of the most important things to check any home security assessment:
1. Home security service. First, are you currently using a home security service? If you have a home security system fully installed, and you trust your existing home security service provider, you can rest easy. Security systems come in many shapes and sizes, and home security services vary in scope and reliability, but any home security service is likely better than none. Having a few cameras, a noisy alarm, motion sensors, and external monitoring can all make your home much safer.
2. Outdoor lighting. Burglars and other criminals are usually opportunistic, looking for quick and easy ways to make money. Homes with significant outdoor lighting are much riskier and harder to target, since the risk of being seen goes up. Simple outdoor lighting installations can sometimes be enough to deter thieves; they’re even more effective if they’re motion activated.
3. Visibility into your home. Go outside and look into your own windows. Do you have many valuables that are visible from the street? Burglars often go “window shopping” before committing their crimes, so if you can see any valuables from the street, it’s a sign you should do some reorganizing.
4. Visibility obstructions. Criminals are cautious to avoid being caught, so they commonly target houses that give them an opportunity to obstruct visibility. Large trees or bushes in your front yard may be attractive from a curb appeal standpoint, but they also give burglars a place to hide.
5. Door locks. Do you have locks on all your doors? How strong are those locks and do they work as intended? If your locks are older, or if you haven’t changed the keys in a long time, you might consider replacing them. It’s also worth investigating to see if your locks can be easily picked or broken.
6. Window accessibility. When your window locks are engaged, is it possible for a thief to open the windows from the outside? Some window locks are stronger than others, so do your research to better understand the level of protection you currently have.
7. Spare key location. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a spare key on your property in case of an emergency, but you need to take care to hide your spare key effectively. Too many people simply hide their spare key under the welcome mat or in a suspicious looking “fake rock” near the front door. It’s important to exercise more creativity in your hiding location.
8. Door and window strength. How strong are your doors and windows? Does it look like someone could easily break in if they were sufficiently motivated? If so, consider replacing these weaker doors and windows with stronger counterparts, or utilizing steel bars and other devices to reinforce your position.
9. Screening options. If someone knocks at your door or rings your doorbell, do you have a way to see them and talk to them before deciding whether to let them in? Your house should have at least some screening options in place.
10. Safes. A safe isn’t a perfect measure of defense, but it can help you keep some of your most important possessions protected in the event of a burglary or a natural disaster. Consider keeping your vital paperwork, your most valuable possessions, and similarly important items in safes (preferably hidden) throughout your house.
11. An emergency escape option. Finally, evaluate your house to see if there are multiple emergency escape options available if you or your family are forced to flee. If someone breaks down your front door and intends to do you harm, which escape route should you take? In line with this, it’s important for you to talk to your family about how you expect everyone to act in an emergency situation. Put together an emergency response plan and conduct routine drills to keep the plan top of mind.
It’s also a good idea to conduct regular security and safety assessments in your neighborhood. Keep an eye on crime rates in your neighborhood; if and when a crime does happen, figure out where and how it happened. It can help you be on guard if there’s a repeat burglar in the area. Also, talk to your neighbors about joining or forming a neighborhood watch program, as these can be highly effective ways to keep everyone in the area safer.
Are you satisfied with your home’s security? If so, congratulations! There’s nothing further you need to do. But if you conducted this home security assessment and found your security systems to be lacking, now is the time to start making upgrades. Even simple changes, like upgrading your locks or installing outdoor lighting, can make a big difference.