Sunday, July 3, 2011

Increase your home security

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Home burglary has been rising the couple of years and it is therefore very important that we find measures on how to deter any intruder who intends to steal or harm us. Possible points of entry into our house by burglars are unlocked doors (front and back), windows (ground floor or basement) and garage.

Home security is paramount to everyone. Aside from the damage and loss to property, the possibility of getting hurt or losing someone is very high when intruders get inside our home. Home security systems offered by some security companies is one option but even this can not totally prevent break-ins and could even be too expensive for most of us or that none is available in our area. So here are some tips that
 could prove better in the long run.

Simple tips you can follow
Lock doors
Remember to always lock your doors whenever you leave or before retiring for the night. There is one reason why break-ins happen at night and that is people are sleeping and therefore unaware of what is happening around us. Don't just rely on one lock. Install at least one more that can only be unlocked from the inside. This way even if they were successful in unlocking one from the outside, the door will still not open as it is still locked from the inside unless they force to open it which hopefully will create noise and hopefully (again) you be awaken. Adding more locks would also cause more delays on the burglar and hopefully will give up because they normally don't want to stay long at the place they are breaking-in.

Security Chains
Install also security door chains. These are the chains you see on doors to prevent it from opening totally and can only be removed by closing the door again (here is what it looks like). It is very helpful when we open the door to check who is on the other side and someone tries to force their way inside after you open it. If somebody threatens you with a gun or a knife, be ready to close that inner lock as you pretend to close the door to remove the security chain then run to safety as you call for help. You might want to practice on it as this needs precise coordination on your part on how to do it.

A word of caution, it should be installed in a way that it will not pull with a single shove from the outside in case the person from the outside tries to frocibly open the door.

Dogs are man's best friend
Dogs are not only pets that greets us when we arrive home or play tricks with us on our free time. They are also excellent in guarding our house. A dog's first instinct when it feels his space (that means your entire house and nearby surroundings) is being invaded by a stranger is to growl and bark. This is a very effective early warning system. Even better than those sensors you can install around your house. What you need to do however is to learn what your dog's behaviours are. Does he growl/bark a lot, twists and turns when he senses something wrong or whimpers at night to signal an intruder? If for example your dog likes to bark at everything it sees moving and normally stays outside then suddenly you don't hear from him, it is more likely that something is wrong or that the burglar has silenced your dog.

Emergency numbers
The first thing every body must do right after or even before moving to a different place is find out what are the emergency numbers to call in an emergency. The United States has 911 but even then there are other numbers that you can contact in an emergency like the direct line to the nearest police or fire station. If you are like me who easily forget things, make a list of these numbers and put them on every possible area of your house. Put them on your cellular phone on speed dial as well. Also try to get the number of your neighbors as they are the ones nearest you. Below is my priority list to call in an emergency.

Emergency number --> Your neighbor --> Your family member

Meaning after I have called on the emergency number, I will call the number of my neighbor then a family member.

Burglars love to scout
Like any endeavor, research goes a long way. Same too with burglars. A burglar first try to check a place before moving in. They will try to check the community's behaviour and your house on the possible point of entry as well as you and your family members' behaviours. So watch out for any signs that someone is doing its "reseach" on you and your home. If you observe an individual not far from your home and don't recognise that person or a car keeps passing your house slowly every several minutes, call the police and tell them an unknown individual is lurking around in your neighborhood. An accurate description would also help.

Putting lights on your front porch and backdoor also helps. The purpose is that if someone is trying to break-in at these entrances, chances are your neighbors will notice and they could alert you of what is going on.

Your curtains are for security measures too
Curtains are there not only for privacy and aesthetic reasons but for security ones as well. When curtains are open, the inside of your house is visible from the outside. That includes anything that is worth taking by would be burglars. So don't tempt them by "showing off" what you have by closing those curtains if not necessary to open it.

Keys under stones or pot is a bad idea
We sometimes see on movies people leaving their keys on pots or under stones, specially the romantic ones. This may be good for the plot of the movie but not in real life. If a burglar is observing you, then he will know where to look for the keys and enter your house when no one is around. The best practice would be to live your key to a trusted neighbor.

When going on a long vacation
When going on vacation and will be leaving the house for several days, tell your neighbor that you will be gone for several days. This way they will know that no one should be around on those days. Leave them a number where they can contact you. You might even want to ask to keep an eye on your house from time to time. But don't broadcast to the world that you will be gone for days, it might end up on the wrong ear.

The social network
Social networking is a good way for us to get in contact and stay updated. But more and more people are also using it to gain more information on you so be careful of what you put on them. Never show pictures of your home that might give people idea on how to move about in your home as it could be accessed by anyone even if you put them as only for friends. Who knows your "friend" is your would be burglar.

Don't be a hero
Lastly, don't be a hero. A hero is only good for the movies. In reality, you might even bring more harm than good. When you sense something is wrong, call for help. Don't go outside investigating. Remember that a burglar has studied you and has prepared for any eventualities while you did not.

As my last note, the act of burglary is an evolving process. They will always find new means to outsmart us. It is our job to spot them so we could make the proper adjustments.

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