Home Security Tips: Guide To Making Your Home Safer

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A safety and security expert shares ways to make your home safer with easy upgrades around the home.

I had my home broken into and was there while it happened. It was scary, to say the least.

Through my job as a security and safety expert, I’ve researched just about every form of home protection since then and tried probably hundreds of security devices. Here’s what I learned.

Reinforce Your Doors

Most burglars come through a door. That’s how they got into my home. Besides locking your doors, you also should reinforce them. Normally, it only takes two strong kicks to breach a locked door. Strengthening your door takes a little time but won’t cost more than $50.

First, upgrade to a Grade 1 deadbolt. Next, switch out the strike plate with a four-screw (or more) strike box and a new lip door strike plate with three-inch-long screws. If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to upgrading the safety of your doors.

Install a Smart Lock

My husband never locks doors. Ever. I fixed the problem by purchasing smart locks that automatically lock when the door closes. If you have someone like my husband at home, take a look at our picks for the best smart locks and learn how to choose the best smart lock for your home.

Keep Your Curtains Closed

close up of hands closing the blinds on a windowbrizmaker/Getty Images

There are two reasons to keep your curtains closed. First, potential thieves won’t know if you’re home or not. Second, potential thieves can’t look into your windows while you’re away to see what kind of expensive items you may have.

Okay, this one is hard for me because I like a lot of natural light in my home and I like to look out at my yard. One solution: Install one-way privacy film on your windows. It allows light in and lets you see outside. People outside only see a dark window or a mirror reflection. Most of these films only work during the day, though, so make sure to close your blinds at night.

Installation is easy. Just cut the film to the size of your window and apply it like a sticker. Some use pre-applied adhesive, while others stick with static cling. Smoothing them down with a credit card eliminates any bubbling.

Install a Security System

Lots of good reasons go this route. Studies have shown home security systems are a successful deterrent to criminals. A monitored system can call for help when you can’t get to your phone, while systems with cameras collect evidence if there’s a home invasion. Plus, many home insurers offer policy discounts if you install a home security system.

Expect to pay around $200 for a basic system like the Ring Alarm five-piece set and up to $800 or more for elaborate systems like the Reolink Security Camera System.

Use Cameras

Even if you don’t want a full-blown security system, just the sight of a security camera can deter a potential thief or intruder. These cameras cost from $30 to $300, depending on the features.

I have several cameras spaced out around my home. Here are my tips on how many you need and where to place them. Luckily, most security cameras are wireless and can be installed in around 20 minutes by anyone with a drill.

Get a Video Doorbell Camera

woman's hand uses a doorbell on the wall of the house with a surveillance cameraLiubomyr Vorona/Getty Images

Don’t want to go all-in on cameras? When someone asks me the easiest way to beef up their home security, I always say, get a video doorbell for their front door.

No matter if you’re home or not, you always know who’s coming and going through the app. You never need to open the door to strangers since you can communicate with them via the two-way talk feature.

Many video doorbells also come with package detection. It alerts you when a package arrives so you can get to it before the porch pirates. Here are our top picks for video doorbell cameras.

Installing a video doorbell is usually as simple as fastening a couple of screws and connecting the device to an app. It takes about 15 minutes, and most brands will guide you through the installation steps on the app.

Use Motion Lights

Like doorbell cameras, motion lights help in several ways. One, they turn on automatically when you arrive home. Two, they turn on when someone approaches your home, potentially scaring away anyone with bad intentions.

I put motion lights at each of my doors and over my garage door. If wiring them to your home electrical sounds daunting, don’t worry. Many are battery or solar-powered and can be installed as simply as a video doorbell.

Get a Package Locker

Package theft is rampant. Around 25 million Americans get packages stolen each year. To keep your deliveries safe, buy a package locker. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The delivery person drops the package inside, and it’s safe there until you unlock and retrieve it.

These run from $150 to $500. Look for one large enough to hold bigger packages, like the Keter Delivery Box. Note that some lockers require assembled.

You can also bolt these lockers to your porch to prevent extra-determined thieves from stealing the whole thing. It’s not that hard. If your porch is wooden, you’ll just need a drill and a wood bit. If it’s concrete or brick, you may need a special drill bit.

Keep Your Business Private

Burglars often look for clues to determine which houses will be the easiest and most profitable to hit. So always be careful about what information you share intentionally and unintentionally.

First, be smart about social media. Don’t post descriptions or photos of high-ticket items like your new big-screen television or jewelry collection. Also, don’t post about your trips until you’ve returned home. You don’t want a potential thief to know you’re away.

Mind your trash, too. Criminals look for signs of big purchases, like an empty television or computer box. Break down the boxes and stuff them in the recycling bin or inside a trash bag before putting them by the curb.

Keep Your Diligence Going

Once you’ve taken these steps, stay vigilant. Keep your security cameras charged. Arm your security system when you leave or go to bed. Lock your doors and windows. Be careful on social media. You get the idea.

When my home was broken into, my doorbell camera’s battery was dead. If I had just recharged it, I would have been alerted someone was coming in my door. I won’t make that mistake again.

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Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford is a technology and internet safety and security expert for SafeWise.com and has contributed her insights to dozens of national publications, both in print and online. Her goal is to make gadgets less mystifying, one article at a time.