What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Home Security Tips

Our area has been experiencing more break and enters, mainly vehicles and small businesses but also out buildings and a few houses.  Most of these have been grab and run without doing much damage.  While this may be a sign of the times. as homeowners or tenants there are a lot of things that can be done to deter break-ins.  I will focus mainly on what homeowners can do but many of these tips apply equally to those who rent their homes.

  • lock it - Vehicles, even if in your own driveway or garage should be locked at all times.  Burglars will move on to easier targets rather than try to get into a locked vehicle.  Entrance doors including garage doors should be locked at all times even if you are home.  Ensure there are dead bolts on every entry door, locks on all windows and patio doors, and use them!  The only time a door should be unlocked is if you are right there.  For example, it is fine to have your patio door unlocked if you are right nearby within close viewing range.
  • valuables - All valuables both those in vehicles and homes should be kept out of sight.  Lock anything GPS, shopping purchases or other valuables in your glove compartment or trunk.  Keep valuables (eg. jewelry, electronic equipment, money, etc.) away from easy viewing through your home windows.  Close your curtains or blinds especially when away from your home.
  • garages - Garages can be either attached to your house or unattached.  An attached garage should be equipped with a garage door opener.  This ensures your garage door remains locked when you aren't there but be aware, some garage door opener controls can open other garage doors if they are on the same frequency especially older models so do be aware of that.  If that happens, change the frequency on your garage door and any keypad password.  If it continues, replace the garage door opener (under $200 on sale).  This is not a problem with newer garage door openers as they constantly change frequencies as part of their security features.  It is imperative that the entrance door between the attached garage and house has a dead bolt and is kept locked at all times.  If someone gets into your garage, they have easy access to your house if that door is not locked and they are hidden from view of your neighbours if in the garage.  If there is an entrance door to the outside, keep it locked as well.  Garage doors should be kept closed and locked unless you are right there. 
  • sheds - Sheds are an easy target because some by design are difficult to secure.  Don't keep anything of any value (eg. tools, lawn mower, power equipment) in a shed unless it can be secured with a dead bolt lock.  Instead use shed for storing lawn furniture, planters and other items of no real value to thieves.
  • locks - Door handle locks and dead bolts should be on all exterior doors to your home.  All windows should be equipped with locks as well as opening restrictions so you can leave you window open about 3 inches for air circulation but it is still secure against break-ins. Pay particular attention to securing patio doors especially those at ground level.  Patio doors come with a lock but additional security can be added. 
  • keys - Household locks should be changed as soon as you take possession of your new home.  If there are no dead bolts, now is the time to add them.  While this won't be possible if you rent, a good landlord will do this for you.  This is very first thing we do after picking up the keys from the lawyer's office before our possession start arriving.  Keep keys out of sight of prying eyes.  Don't hang them near a window or entrance way where they may be easily seen.  If having your vehicle serviced, give them only the key to your vehicle, not any of the other keys on your key chain.  If using a valet service, use the valet key for your vehicle and lock your glove compartment.  Do not leave any household keys with the valet.  Keys should always be out of the ignition and in your possession when you aren't with your vehicle.  In the cold winter months folks are tempted to leave the car running in their driveway to warm up or leave it running while they run into a variety store but it only takes a second for a thief to drive away with your vehicle and he/she now has your home address along with keys to get into your home!  Household keys should only be given to a select few people you trust.  If at any time you think your household keys got into the wrong hands or you lose your keys, change the locks.  Weiser SmartKey sets make this very easy to do yourself.  Do not have your address on the key fob or label the keys in any manner that would aid a thief if they got a hold of your keys.  Use a colour coded system or different designer keys (eg. Disney design for house, sports design for shed, etc).  All exterior household doors can be keyed to use the same key making it very easy and inexpensive to replace your keys if necessary. 
  • security systems - A household, monitored security system should be installed and used.  Not only will it deter thieves, should a break-in occur, help will get there faster and most insurance companies give a discount if you have a security system.  A security system can be added even if you rent although you should check your lease first, however there are easy DIY wireless systems that will alert your neighbours if there is a problem.
  • lighting - Thieves like to work under the cloak of darkness so remove that with lighting.  Motion activated indoor and outdoor lights should be used in combination to lights on timers and solar lighting.  Motion activated lights can be battery operated,  electric outlet type or solar.  GE makes a really nice motion activated LED night light (2 pack for $17) that plug into the wall.  They have two bright LED lights that really light up well when motion is detected up to 20 feet away.  X-10 has interior and exterior motion detector controls that can be turn on the programmed light and there are a wide range of other motion activated lighting available.
  • empty house - When you are away even for brief periods of time like going to the grocery store, do not Twitter as that is an open invitation to anyone reading your tweets that your house is empty.  Do not put that you will be on vacation on Facebook for the same reason.  If away for an extended period of time, set your security system and notify your alarm company.  Give your house key to a trusted family member or friend to check on your house on a regular basis as well as collect any newspapers.  If you have good neighbour relations and you should, let them know you will be away and what vehicles may be in your driveway so if they see any suspicious activity they can notify the police.

Garden Gnome