Evaluating Residential Safety
Before you make security improvements, identify the entry points most likely to be used by a burglar. You can do this by answering the following questions:
- If I am locked out of my house, where could I get in without too much difficulty?
- Which entrances are hidden/out of view from my neighbors?
Every door/window you list in response to these questions should be a top priority. Other security improvements should follow, keeping in mind that your goal is to make it difficult for a burglar by creating delays on entry and perpetrator-generated noise.
Guidelines for Doors & Windows
- Consider solid core wood, metal or other reinforced doors, reinforced door jams or jam braces, 3-inch screws, heavy-duty strike plates and tamper proof hinges, and safety glass or security film on vulnerable windows.
- Doors and windows should fit snugly against the frames and all frames should be free of warping, cracks, and other signs of wear and tear.
- Double-hung windows should be secured with pins or extra locks to discourage prying.
- Exterior doors should be strong enough to withstand excessive force and be secured with a deadbolt lock that has a minimum 1-inch throw. All strike plates and frames should be anchored to the home's main construction.
- High-risk windows (basement, garage, ground-level, partially or totally secluded, latched, etc.) should be secured sufficiently enough to discourage or impede possible intrusion.
- Sliding glass doors and windows should be secure against forcing the locks or from being lifted completely out of the frame.
- The main entrance door should have a door-width angle (180 degree) viewer/peephole.
Guidelines for Lights
- All entrances (doors and windows) to your home should be well lit at night.
- Timers (both interior and exterior) should be installed to activate lights in your absence.
- Use motion-sensor lighting, specifically directed and focused on entry points and vulnerable areas.
Guidelines for Landscaping
- Trees and shrubs should be trimmed to allow visibility along the perimeter (particularly entries) of the house.
Remember, security improvements should not be made at the expense of fire safety. Allow at least 1 door or window per room as a fire escape, meaning that exit can be made quickly and easily. There should also be fire escape routes established for your household. Family members should know where these are and they should be practiced periodically, especially if there are young children at home.