If you are not in the position to afford a monthly monitoring system, there are many things you can do around your home to make it safer.
- Install doors made of solid hard wood or metal.
- Install dead-bolt locks on all main doors.
- Make sure you use a wide-angle peephole when looking to see who's at the door. Using a slide-chain to peek out the door isn't always strong enough to keep someone from pushing it open.
- Sliding glass doors should have keyed locks and you should not be able to lift them out of their frames from the outside. A pole placed in the track of the door is quite helpful in that it keeps the door from being slid open.
- Install removable pins, nails, and/or rods to prevent windows from being opened.
- Keep bushes and trees trimmed and away from your house and windows. Hidden windows make it easier for someone to attempt to break-in without being seen.
- If you are going to be away from your home at night or for an extended period of time, you can get a timer that will turn a light (or lights) on at dusk and off at bedtime.
For those interested in a security system, State Farm Insurance gives a good breakdown of what's involved. The basic elements of a standard home security system include:
- Control panel: This is where the system wiring terminates, the backup battery is located and where it is connected to the phone lines if it is a monitored system.
- Keypad: This is where the system is armed and disarmed.
- Inside motion detector: These sense changes in a room caused by human presence. Special motion detectors are available for people who have pets.
- Door and window contacts:; This sounds the alarm when the door or window is opened (and the system is on).
- A central monitoring station (Company): If the system is monitored, and the alarm is set off, the control panel sends a message to a central monitoring station, which is manned 24 hours a day. After attempting to contact the homeowner, the central monitoring station will contact the police, fire department, or medics. There is usually a monthly fee for this service.
If you like all of the bells and whistles, there are additional items that can be added to the basic system:
- Smoke detectors.
- Glass break detectors.
- Panic buttons.
- Pressure mats for under rugs.
- Closed circuit TV to allow monitoring and/or recording inside or outside a home.
- Alarm screens for windows.
The two types of monitoring systems are described below:
- The security system senses something.
- The security system waits 30 to 45 seconds to give the homeowner a chance to deactivate the system to prevent false alarms.
- If the alarm is not deactivated the security system sends a message to the monitoring company over telephone lines.
- The monitoring company receives the message and verifies the alarm, generally by placing a phone call to the home. If they do not receive the proper password or do not receive an answer, they call the police.
- The police respond.
- Unmonitored systems rely on neighbors to call police.
- Neighbors or passersby should never investigate an alarm themselves.
- With an unmonitored system, it is best to have a combination of strobe lights and alarms. They should be located on the street side of the house and in an inaccessible spot as possible.
- It is best to discuss the installation with your neighbors and to place the siren and flashing light on the house where it can be easily seen.
While security systems won't always prevent someone from breaking into your home, they are an excellent deterrent. Remember, you don't have to spend a fortune on a high-end system, but you should do what you can to make your home safer.