Inexpensive Home Security Ideas

Your home can never be totally secure. (Criminals are resourceful.) Even so, if you can't afford an expensive alarm system there are some inexpensive methods you can use to increase the security of your home.

Install Proper Locks    to top

If you don't have deadbolt locks on your doors, get them. Deadbolts offer a much higher degree of protection than regular locks; they're much thicker and stronger, and can withhold a great deal of pressure. Also, they can't be forced open using something as flimsy as a credit card.

Protection Point
Don't skimp on locks! When you're buying a lock, the old adage is true—you really do get what you pay for. Carefully measure what you can afford against the importance of your family's safety.

Proper Doors    to top

If you have good locks, there's a good chance that the door will break before the lock does. Whenever you're buying or replacing a door, try to get a sturdy one. Some doors are completely hollow, which will not be very effective at keeping out intruders.

If you don't want to replace your door, consider having it reinforced with a metal plate, which can be painted over. This will give you an extra degree of protection while saving you a bit of money.

Listen to the Radio When You're Not Home    to top

Set your radio to a weather or all-talk station, and leave it on when you leave the house. Experiment a little bit, and find a volume that you can just hear through the closed door. If you need to, put the radio close to the door.

No matter where you put it, the sound from the radio will give the illusion of muffled voices, making it sound like someone is inside. This can be a very effective means of warding off intruders, and can also be maddening to solicitors who are trying to figure out why you're not answering the door.

Protection Point
Some people leave on the television instead, but radios draw much less power. The television does add the element of altered patterns of light within the house. It's up to you to decide if the power and wear-and-tear on your television is worth it.

Use Light Timers     to top

Light timers are inexpensive, and can be programmed to turn your lights on or off at different times of the day. If you want to get creative, you can even use a light timer for your radio. Use a combination, and it can appear that an entire family is home.

Light timers are available at most department or hardware stores, and are available in both outdoor and indoor models.

Use Motion Detector Lights in Your Yard    to top

Motion detector lights will turn on if they detect any motion, such as people or animals walking by. They are inexpensive, and most models can be programmed for range and sensitivity, so that you can avoid having the lights go on each time a cat walks by the garage.

Motion detector lights are a great deterrent to thieves—and the more lights you have, the better. Burglars practice an entirely different sort of performance art, and don't like being thrust into the spotlight; they'll run if they think anyone can see them.

Lock your Patio Doors    to top

The latches that come with patio doors are usually ineffective. Don't rely on them. Get a piece of wood— such as a cut 2x4—that fits into the track when the door is closed. This will keep the patio door closed, and is virtually impossible to dislodge from the outside without breaking the glass.

Commercial track locks are also available. These are usually small pieces of metal with wing nuts attached; you simply attach a track lock to the top of the track, flush against the closed door, and then tighten the nuts. For added security, you can use both a track lock and the block of wood.

Prepare for Trips    to top

If you're going on a trip, make sure you either have someone pick up your mail or have it held at the post office.

Remember to look after your newspaper subscription. A nice idea is to offer the paper to a neighbor who doesn't subscribe—let him pick it up, and that way you have someone checking on your house every day. Besides, it's a nice thing to do for a neighbor.

Protect Your Belongings    to top

Better be safe than sorry. Take the time to conduct an inventory of your household items, and make sure your insurance company has a copy of the list. Engrave your items with a unique identifier so that they can be identified in case of theft. Most police departments have engraving pens available free of charge through their community liaison offices; they will also be able to help you determine a unique identifier that will help them identify your property in the case of theft.

The Good News    to top

Ensuring your family's safety and protecting your belongings doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Spend what you can when you can; even if your eventual goal is to install a state-of-the-art security system, these simple techniques will make your home a little safer until you can do so.

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