Home is a place where we are supposed to be utterly comfortable and at peace. It’s the place we go to relax after working all day; it’s the place we keep our most important possessions, the place we focus on our health and our relationships, and the place where we turn off the world for a while and just enjoy the space we’ve carved out for ourselves. One thing it is never supposed to be is threatening - so it is no surprise that we often go to great lengths to ensure that our homes are safe.
In fact, protecting our homes from threats is a primitive instinct that goes back to our ancient ancestors. While ice-age humans were largely nomadic, that didn’t stop them from staking out territory and guarding it fiercely. In the same ways today, we guard our homes like dragons guarding piles of pilfered gold, taking advantage of the best security hardware and latest technology available.
While home safety has come a long way since the days of clubs and stones, there are still elements that haven’t changed much. The idea of a fence isn’t a new one, though the materials may have changed over the years. A structure to keep threats out and contain livestock animals has been a part of human culture for many hundreds of generations. Systems that barred the doors and windows were also common many years ago. There were even rudimentary home alarms; they may have relied on a guard in a watchtower to strike a bell, where we use an electronic sensor, but the concept is the same.
Here are some of the best ways to keep your house safe.
There are several ways that a fence can add security to your home. In the first place, it deters anyone who may have committed a crime simply because it was an easy target. Nearly all home burglaries occur at homes where it was dead simple to enter the home and exit in a hurry. A fence adds an extra complication that many burglars simply aren’t willing to risk.
It can also keep wild animals out, if you live in an area where that’s a concern. Fences are good deterrents even for large animals, who are naturally repelled by the unnatural structure in their way. Finally, a fence offers a good privacy option, hiding your home and anything that is outdoors from the general view. If nothing is in view to tempt a criminal, there is less chance that anyone will take the risk of climbing over a fence.
Fencing comes in many materials and styles. Tall wooden or vinyl stakes can work well for a privacy fence; or you could use chain link or wrought iron, and grow a privacy shield with creeping plants like ivy. Other popular materials can include stone, brick, bamboo, and PVC.
Most local planning authorities in the UK have regulations regarding fences. The maximum height you can build a privacy fence, without requiring specific planning permission, is usually around two metres, or about six feet, so you may need to check the laws in your area before you build.
The door is the point of entry that most criminals will try first - it is estimated that two thirds of burglars get in through a door. It’s the most logical entrance to the house, as it offers the least chance that their presence will be detected. A shattered window is much easier to spot than a door that has been forced open and then closed again. Because this can be one of the weakest points in your house, it’s important to protect it.
Many decades ago, farmers would nail boards up over the door each and every night, counting on the sturdy timber and nails to keep anyone from simply opening the door and walking through it. Later, latch systems became more complex, with slim chains being used in sliding pockets to keep a door closed. Over time, door locks and bolts developed so that they can only be opened by a single key, and door frames became sturdier.
At Premier Door Handles we sell many different types of door bolts and latches. The Carlisle Brass Surface Bolt, for example, is an easy-to-use sliding bolt that instantly adds security to a door without adding bulk or weight to the door. However, if you need extra security, we also have the Carlisle Brass Security Bolt with Turn, as well as a number of other options. We also sell Eurospec Cylinder Locks, Rim Cylinder Night Latches, and Eurospec 5 Lever Deadlocks. Any of these devices can add an inexpensive extra layer of security to an entrance.
For public spaces like office buildings, we also have several panic hardware options, such as the Hoppe Arrone Single Panic Bolt. This safety bar allows guests to easily leave the building in case of fire or other emergencies, but can also be locked after hours. Having the proper door locks in public areas may not just be a matter of losing money if criminals gain access to the building; it can also be a matter of life or death if people are caught in an emergency with no easy way out.
The windows can be another weak point in a house that must be addressed. If you are using modern, double-glazed windows, there is no easy way for a thief to break them and enter the home. However, they may try to open the window another way, for example by jimmying open an unlocked window - so it’s best to always keep windows closed and locked unless it is daylight and you are awake and inside the home.
We sell a range of high-quality Carlisle Brass window latches that can make it simple for you to keep your windows secured. The Carlisle Brass Architectural Quality Quadrant Sash Fastener, for example, is simple to use with a basic rotating bar that is held in place by a perpendicular bar. The Carlisle Brass Victorian Locking Casement Fastener is another great window latch that simply folds down for a simple extra element of security.
In addition to using the right kind of fasteners and locks, it’s a good idea to block the view into your home with heavy curtains, both at night and when you are away. If you will be away for longer than a day, you may also wish to place a light near a window, so that there appears to be someone home. If you live in a high crime area, or you simply feel more safe with added security, window bars may be another great option. Usually made out of decorative metals (so they don't look like prison bars), these are made so that no person, no matter how small, can squeeze through and into your home. With security bars installed, you can leave your window open at night for a refreshing breeze with less worry.
Finally, you may wish to consider changing the material of your windows. While reinforced glass is very hard to break, it’s not impossible. Plexiglass and other glass alternatives allow homeowners to let the light in through materials that are nearly indestructible for the common criminal. There are also laminated glass options that give you the look of glass windows with the safety of vinyl. Bullet-resistant glass is another possibility, but it is very expensive and probably won’t do any more for a basic residence than other reinforced glass options like tempered glass.
Alarm systems have come a long way since the days of the man in the watchtower. Now we can receive texts on our phones when the alarm system is turned on, off, or tripped by an intruder. We can even control the alarm from our phones, turning it on from the office if we forget on our way out the door.
It isn’t just alarms against people we must be concerned about, though those can be added at every door and in the windows as well. Smoke alarms are equally important for safety. Those should be checked every month, to ensure that the batteries are working and everything responds as it should. The devastation that is caused when a fire catches a family by surprise can be life shattering. In addition to checking those alarms, it’s important to have a family plan in place, so that everyone knows where to go, what to do, and has practised getting there as fast as they can.
In addition to security alarms that are run by third-party services, you can also do a little security surveillance of your own. Setting up cameras outside your home can deter would-be thieves who don’t wish to risk getting caught. A motion-activated camera saves energy and provides you with an instant view of the threat in question. Remember - for this to work, security lighting is a must. Bright exterior windows, such as fluorescent bulbs, are perfect for keeping an eye on the property and grounds from the comfort of your home.
Other Safety Considerations
There are quite a few other things you can do to keep your home safe. One of those is to pay attention to how you’ve landscaped the area around the house. Gravel or loose rock near the house is a great idea, because you can hear when someone approaches. Tall, thick bushes growing right up against the house, and particularly near the door, is a very dangerous situation. Someone could hide there, and even see the security code you put into the alarm system if it’s nearby. Also watch for tree branches that make it easy to get to less-secure upper-level windows or skylights.
A neighbourhood watch could be a great idea if you live in a place with a close group of like-minded neighbours. Neighbourhood watches usually consist of an organised network of local homeowners who volunteer to roam around the streets of the neighbourhood for a few hours after dark on nights when crime rates are high. They watch for anything that looks out of place, and report it to the local authorities. Sometimes the neighbourhood watch can be more loosely organised, simply consisting of a handful of neighbours who are willing to give each other a heads-up if they notice anything out of the ordinary.
Also, it's time to get creative about where you hide your valuables. For starters, keeping them all in the bedroom closet is a bad move. Professional burglars will check the bedroom first, since that is where most people keep their jewellery and other valuables. Desks, bookshelves, and other storage areas are all areas of focus. Try to find places where no one would think to look. Expensive jewellery would probably fare better in a locked box tucked into the kids’ closet than in your bathroom, for example.
Your large dog may be only as scary as his never-ending slobbery kisses, but that doesn’t mean that a dog can’t be useful. Any dog that has a strong instinct to bark when someone is at the door is a good criminal deterrent. Often, it is ironically the small, harmless looking dogs that are perfect for this job. They tend to have constant, uncontrollable barking instincts.
Home Security Don'ts
Here are a few things that you shouldn’t do when making your home safe:
Don’t leave the lights on all the time. When you are home, it would be more natural for lights to go on and off at random times as you move throughout the place. So instead, try to get lights that are on a timer, or smart bulbs that you can control from your smartphone.
Don’t post alarm company signs; professional burglars can use that information to bypass your security systems. Additionally, don’t have your mail suspended if you leave town. Professionals watch for any change in habits to mark a time when you are out of the home.
By ensuring that your windows and doors are secured very well; that you’ve checked for the major areas a burglar could come into your home, and ensured that they are safe; that you’ve double checked your smoke alarms for safety; that you’ve considered and perhaps even installed an alarm; and that you’ve considered and perhaps installed a strong fence, you now have the necessary elements to turn your home into a fortress of safety. The deterrents needed to stop the large majority of opportunistic would-be criminals are all there - it is just up to you to use them and protect your family and home.