10 Ways to Keep Your House Safe

A few weeks ago, an intruder made his way into our house in a safe neighborhood tucked away in a cul-de-sac. We were sleeping upstairs and when we woke up, we were devastated and felt violated.  If we could rewind time, there are absolutely things we would do differently.   We wish we would have had a home security alarm system that day, but there are also  a lot of things that anyone can do today. (Hint: most are free!)  Here's ten:

  1. As tempting as it is to brag about your upcoming vacation all over Facebook and other social media, you are setting your home up as a target for burglars. Some reports even indicate that intruders use Facebook to determine when homeowners were away, allowing them to plot the perfect times to burglarize their homes.
  2. A dog's bark is, no doubt, a deterrent to thiefs, but even if you don't have a dog—put up a "beware of dog" sign anyway. The threat of Sparky might be enough to intimidate and make a burglar think twice about breaking in.
  3. Don't tempt intruders with your pricey possessions.  Throwing out the box for your new flat-screen TV or sound system on the curb lets everyone passing by know that you have well, a brand new flat-screen TV mounted on your wall. Break down packaging and place it inside the garbage can instead.
  4. Motion-sensored lights outside your home are a great deterrent for burglars. They'll run the other way when they find themselves standing in bright lights as they approach your house.
  5. Install Window Treatments! Use blinds or curtains, especially at night. If someone can see inside your home, they can see what you're doing, where you're storing your wallet, which room you're sitting in to watch TV, and which rooms are dark and vacant.
  6. Growing up, I remember our neighbor paid my sisters and I a couple bucks to go over to their house while they were away and turn on a few random lights every day.  They had the right idea. These days you can set timers for lights to create the illusion that someone is home and actively turning the lights on and off.
  7. Although the intruder that came into our house, although made it through one locked door—the second one (from the garage to the interior) was unlocked. Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened. An open window or door is like an open invitation for burglars. To secure sliding glass doors, place a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track, preventing burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.
  8. Keeping a car parked (locked or not) in the driveway with a garage door opener inside is an easy way for an intruder to get into your house. Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don't rely on your automatic garage door opener for security.
  9. Ask your neighbor to collect your mail, packages and newspapers while you are away so they don't accumulate in plain sight.  It's a golden ticket for intruders.  For bonus points, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are present.
  10. Landscaping helps the curb-appeal of your home, but large hedges and shrubbery provide the perfect hiding place for quick burglars who can break in through a window or door in minutes. Keep shrubbery trimmed away from your entrances and walkways.

Julia Marcum is a color and design enthusiast who studied art in college, but enjoys painting walls as much as canvases. She and her husband, Chris, write the flourishing DIY/Home Design blog, Chris Loves Julia, about their successes and failures renovating and redecorating their first home in Utah with their daughter, Greta (and thousands of readers), rooting them on.  You can find more from Julia Marcum here: Chris Love Julia Blog Facebook

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