15 Tips to Ensure the Safety and Security of Your Home

When is the last time you thought about the safety and security of your home? How about thinking about it right now? Do you do the following? If not, start, today:

  1. Do you have propane tanks for a gas grill? Or gasoline cans with gas in them? They aren’t supposed to be stored inside. Put them is a safe secure place where kids can’t access them.
  2. Do you have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? When is the last time you inspected them? Check the batteries and make sure they are not collecting lint and dust. If you can, integrate them, too. This way, if one goes off in the kitchen, the detectors throughout the house will also get triggered. Set a note in your calendar to replace the battery’s every 6 months.
  3. Does your mailbox lock? If not, consider upgrading to one that does. This way, mail that contains sensitive information won’t just sit out there for the taking.
  4. If you are using an extension cord outside, make sure that it is made for outdoor appliances. Others can cause fires or trip causing other issues.
  5. Don’t leave any notes on your door claiming that you will be home later. This is the case even if you are expecting a package.
  6. Understand that if there is a power outage, your food in the freezer should last for up to 48 hours. Use a generator or stock up on non-perishable food.
  7. When you use an oily rag, put it outside to dry. Then, store it in a metal can with a secure lid. Even if it looks dry, an oily rag is still flammable even if it isn’t in contact with flames.
  8. Don’t try to charge a non-rechargeable battery. This could make it explode.
  9. To dissuade burglars from getting into windows, plant thorny shrubs and bushes around them.
  10. If you have a home security system, make sure everyone knows. Place the company’s decals and signs around your home and yard. If you don’t have one, buy and place signs up anyway. It will still dissuade burglars.
  11. When it snows, shovel the driveway and create a path to your home. This shows the bad guys that someone is home. And various town and city ordinances require this or you’ll get fined.
  12. Before you leave on vacation, set your home phone’s ringer on mute. This way, if a burglar is staking out your home, your phone won’t be a dead giveaway.
  13. Before you leave town, put a hold on your mail and newspaper. Don’t let it pile up.
  14. Also, ask a friend or neighbor to park their car in your driveway if you are away. This way, a burglar will always think someone is home.

While away on vacation, don’t post about it on social media. Burglars often search social media sites to see who in the neighborhood is away.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

45 Home Security Tips That Help to Keep Burglars Away

If you have a home, you should be worried about burglars. Here are 44 home security tips that you can use to keep the burglars away:

  1. Keep your doors locked all of the time.
  2. Use a deadbolt on every door.
  3. Don’t leave ladders outside.
  4. Teach young kids NOT to answer the door.
  5. Make sure there are no valuables sitting out that someone could see from the window.
  6. Keep curtains and shades drawn tight at night.
  7. Install a peephole.
  8. Don’t answer the door unless you expect someone.
  9. Cover all windows with an anti-penetration film known as shatter proof window film.
  10. Put a “beware of dog” sign in the front and back of your property.
  11. If you don’t have a dog, make it look like you do. Drape a large leash over your outdoor furniture, place a large food bowl with water outside, and even throw some dog toys in the yard.
  12. Don’t leave the garage door open or unlocked, ever.
  13. Put your valuables in a sock and hide them under your bathroom vanity. Burglars don’t often check bathrooms.
  14. Even better, put it in a fireproof safe.
  15. Make sure all of your window locks work, and make sure to lock all windows at night.
  16. Don’t allow bushes to grow too high near the home. These offer hiding places for burglars.
  17. Plant thorny bushes around the windows and doors.
  18. Teach your family about fire escape, and then conduct “home invasion drills”
  19. If there are no men in the house, create the illusion of one. Place old, worn men’s work boots by the door along with a tool box.
  20. Make sure all of your window screens are in excellent condition, not torn.
  21. Use stoppers or Charlie bars in all window tracks.
  22. Get a new security system, and make sure it includes motion sensors and cameras.
  23. Place a video surveillance camera, or even a fake one, above the front and back door where it is always visible.
  24. If you are planning a vacation, talk to a neighbor about parking their car in your driveway. Also, ask someone to mow your lawn.
  25. When away, put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery.
  26. Set up a system that turns on lights inside and out when you are home or away. This way, it looks like you are home.
  27. Don’t post about your vacation on social media until you get home. Burglars look for those posts.
  28. Put decals from a security company on your windows and front door.
  29. Put a security system sign in both the front and the back yard.
  30. Don’t talk about your travel plans with preachers, service people, survey takers, or salespeople. They may not have bad intentions, but people talk too much.
  31. Install a lockbox for spare keys.
  32. Consider building a “safe room.”
  33. Make sure your home’s address is large and very visible from the street.
  34. Put your name inside opposed to outside the mailbox. No need to broadcast it to buglers
  35. Don’t say “We aren’t home right now” on your voice mail recording.
  36. Check all windows after you have a service person in your home. Sometimes, they leave windows open so that they can get in later.
  37. Consider keyless smart locks.
  38. Get a protection dog.
  39. Take a self defense course.
  40. Don’t leave any packages sitting outside of your house. Instead, schedule packages when you can sign for them or use a sign-for service.
  41. Have a phone on your night stand.
  42. Install a good door reinforcement system. Door Devil is a good one.
  43. If you leave the house, turn off the ringer of your home phone. This way, burglars won’t hear it ring without anyone picking it up.
  44. Give a key to your home to a trusted neighbor. Don’t ever leave it under a plastic rock, welcome mat, or a flower pot.
  45. Assume that the guy who knocks at the door representing your alarm company who just shows up wants to rob you.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

How Water Leak Sensors protect your Home

Ever wonder how a water leak sensor actually works?1S

  • Water comes into contact with the sensor. The sensor makes and electrical contact and send a signal.
  • The sensor transmits a signal to a central station of sorts (kind of like how if extreme heat or a needle comes in contact with your skin, your sensory nerves will send a signal to your brain).
  • Once the signal reaches the “brain” of the water leak sensor, an alarm will sound.
  • A more advanced system includes a phone call from a base monitoring center to alert you to the leak.

Where might water leaks occur?

  • Appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine are among the many sources of potential leaks.
  • Obviously, a hot water heater can leak.
  • A leak can also emanate from the plumbing of a toilet.
  • Roofs leak all the time.
  • Your neighbor in your apartment/condo may spring a leak.

Though a water leak may sound like a minor nuisance, it can actually be very costly if unchecked. A worst case scenario is an untreated leak causing mold to proliferate in the house’s walls and floors. This mold can cause serious health problems. Water leaks could ruin wood and carpet as well.

Placement of Water Sensors

  • High quality water sensors can be placed anywhere you’d like. The device may be only three inches long, depending on make and model.
  • Beneath the dishwasher
  • Floor of the basement
  • Under the bathroom sink
  • Drip pan of the washing machine
  • Drip pan of the water heater

These are just suggestions; review your house for any possible location where there could be a water leak.

Water damage is never to be underestimated. It’s the No. 1 reason for insurance claims. We’ve all heard about basements getting flooded—not from storms but from pipes that burst.

And it goes without saying that sooner or later, an appliance is going to have a puddle of water forming nearby it.

It’s smart to get water leak sensors set up in your house for yet another reason other than prevention of damage: a lower rate on your homeowner’s insurance. See if your insurance will offer you a discount if you have water leak sensors.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to secure your Apartment

I love that show, “Forensic Files.” Every so often there’s the case of a person who was found murdered in their apartment due to some forced entry. Which brings me to the topic of apartment security.

1HNew Apartment

  • Don’t delay in doing a walk-through of the entire premises, including the laundry room (where a crime can occur after a creep spots a vulnerable-looking woman enter the unlocked room).
  • Take note of any portals through which a burglar could make entry. This includes trees and trellises that lead to a window.
  • Take note of where the lit and dark areas are.

Doors and Windows

  • I can’t begin to tell you how many episodes of “Forensic Files” deal with an intruder getting in through an unlocked door or window—and this includes during the day when the victim was home. Keep them locked!
  • However, we all know that intruders will use force to break through a locked door or window (though if you’re home, you’ll have time to call 911 and perhaps make an escape through the back of the apartment—a plan you should already have in place since Day 1. If you’re on the second floor, have a foldable ladder always ready to make your escape.). Sounds crazy, but it’s good for fire escape too.
  • Hopefully your landlord will permit you to replace what’s probably a cheaply built door strike-plate with a strong one with two-inch screws, as this will make it very difficult to kick open. Press your landlord to allow deadbolts on all the doors, even if you must pay for them.
  • Make sure the window locks are very difficult to get past, even if you must pay for revisions. Landlords typically won’t do things like this; if the lock merely “works,” that’s usually good enough for them. This includes sliding glass doors.
  • Put Charley bars or anti-slide devices in the tracks of sliding doors.
  • No matter how mesmerizing the night crickets or ruffling leaves are, you must never go to sleep when the windows are unlocked.

Miscellaneous

  • Make sure no valuables are visible through your windows.
  • A landlord won’t pay for a security system. Hang on every doorknob a sensor (available online and fits in your palm) that, when the door is opened, emits a loud beep.
  • Install your own home security system. They are relatively inexpensive and some can be moved to another apartment.
  • Use timed lighting devices to make it appear you’re home when you’re out.
  • Every time you leave your apartment to get mail, empty rubbish or go to the laundry room, lock your door!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Protect your Home when Traveling

When you go traveling, I’m sure you make a point to protect the various things you bring with you—including your laptop, children, even spouse. But what about something you left behind? Your home? Is that being protected too?

1BBefore Leaving

  • Don’t wait till the last minute to arrange kenneling for your pet.
  • Tidy up the exterior of your house including mowing the lawn. Overgrown grass, unmoved rubbish and dormant toys/tools make a house look unoccupied. If you plan on traveling long enough for the grass to get overgrown, arrange with a trusted adult to mow your lawn.
  • Don’t leave your car outside.
  • Put your snail mail and any paper delivery on vacation hold.
  • Give spare keys to a trusted adult. This person should also know the “safe” word for your security system should they be in contact with the monitoring center.
  • Hopefully you have a reliable neighbor who will promptly remove any flyers in your door or on the knob.
  • Here’s something you probably never thought of: A burglar casing your street on trash pickup day may notice the one house whose trash cans aren’t at the curb. Hmmm…maybe those people are away on vacation? So have a neighbor bring your trash cans out on trash day—with trash in them—and then bring them back in.
  • Get rid of food that may spoil while you’re away.
  • Make sure the locks on your windows and doors work.
  • Set up an automatic timed lighting system. Open curtains or shades enough to reveal this to anyone passing by, but not enough for someone to be able to see your valuables through your windows.
  • Put as many valuables as you can in a fireproof, waterproof safe.
  • To prevent water flooding problems, switch off the water to your dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Make sure all appliances and electronic items are unplugged to avoid fires.
  • Lower the thermostat but no less than 60’.
  • Give the garbage disposal one last run, because if there is food waste in there you may come home to a swarm of fruit flies.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors and home security system work.
  • And don’t forget to turn your alarm system on before you embark on your trip.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Everything You need to know about Door Security

“I don’t need to lock my doors all the time; this neighborhood is very safe.” And I have some land in the Caribbean I’d like to sell you.

1BBurglars know that every “safe neighborhood” has a certain percentage of fools who think they’re immune to break-ins. And thieves would rather intrude upon a home with lots of nice things—and these homes are usually in “nice neighborhoods.” Hello?

Big mistakes:

  • Leaving doors unlocked
  • Keeping doors locked—but the lock system sucks

I hope you don’t fall into either of the above categories.

What you see on TV is true: Locked doors CAN be kicked open. Builders of homes don’t have the future resident’s security in mind. They cut corners whenever possible. You can bet a new home has a crappy door lock. And an old home, for that matter. Any determined thief could get past these doors even when they’re locked.

But there’s hope. Lots of it. First of all, keep your doors locked. Even if the lock isn’t too great. After all, many times a thief will give up after learning the door is locked. Many burglars are very impatient and want a quick, quiet job. But since you can’t read the mind of the next crook who prowls your neighborhood, it’s best that you get optimal door security.

 First-Line Door Security

  • The door frame on the lock and hinge sides should be reinforced.
  • Think “door reinforcement” Metal plates reinforcing the door jam is fundamental to door security See Door Devil.
  • Wood doors should be solid hardwood all around.
  • Getting a peephole.
  • Don’t answer the door. Don’t feel you must answer the door every time someone’s there. It’s not a crime to ignore the visitor. If you’re not expecting anyone, it’s safest to just ignore them. It’s extremely unlikely that they’re about to die from dehydration or hemorrhaging; assume whatever they want is not a matter of life and death.
  • If you have a door that’s not visible to people passing by, this door especially needs optimal security.
  • A steel-clad door should have 24-guage steel and a wood lockblock core.
  • Hardened steel deadbolts are a must and should have a five-pin tumbler. Associated screws should be as long as they come for deadbolts. Deadbolts should have wrap-arounds.
  • Consider a vertical deadbolt or multi-lock deadbolt for maximal security.
  • Another layer of maximal security is the grade of door hardware, whereas grade 1 is the highest; grade 2 is moderate; and grade 3 is so-so.
  • Beware of flimsy screws!

Adjuncts to Door Security

  • Use a door brace (metallic pole that has one end fitting under doorknob and the other end securely on the floor, out at an angle, to prevent the door from opening).
  • A door stop or wedge will probably not stop a brute-force push-in, but a door stop can be equipped with an alarm that will trip if someone tries to push their way in.
  • Don’t bother with the door chains that you so often see on TV. We’ve all seen it: The bad guy is on the other side of the door while the apprehensive woman is speaking to him through that small opening. He then pushes on the door and breaks the chain. This can really happen!

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

What’s in a Bugout Bag

There’s a name for the survival sack that you take with you outdoors in the event of survival emergency: bugout bag.

1MLet’s start with the key components to net a three-day survival:

  • Water: one liter per person per day
  • Food: “energy bars” or backpack meals
  • Small pot or large cup (though if you have only energy bars plus iodine tablets, you won’t need to boil water for food or purification).
  • Clothes: sturdy footwear, long pants, two pairs non-cotton socks, two shirts, rainwear hooded jacket and rainwear pants, long underwear, wide-brimmed hat
  • Tarp or tent plus a ground tarp; sleeping bag
  • First aid kit (not necessarily a prepackaged one from the store; it may be better to build one; you’ll know exactly what’s in there, like tweezers to remove ticks).
  • Poncho
  • Fire starters
  • Survival knife (find the one that suits you best)
  • Small mirror (in case something gets in your eye, but also to reflect the sun to get the attention of rescue aircraft)
  • Two flashlights and backup batteries
  • Weapon (the knife may suffice, but you probably won’t be too confident with only a knife to fend off a bear, so better have pepper spray on hand) If you are a gun person, please be properly trained.
  • Baby wipes. Hygiene is as important as nutrition.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen (imagine the sunburn three days out in the sun, even during winter; snow reflects sun from a clear sky like mad).
  • GPS or some kind of beacon to help find you if you get lost.
  • Paracord. Google it.

There are so many more things that can be added to the bug-out bag, but remember, this list refers to three days’ worth of survival. Obviously, if you want to pack the bag for seven days, you’d want to include more things. These additional items may be anything from a map and compass to a snake-bite kit.

Small plastic bags and long shoelaces are also invaluable, as they can be used to trap water moisture from non-poisonous vegetation branches and condense it over several hours, filling the bag with enough to drink from.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to store Water for Survival

What do you really know about water storage? Below you’ll find information that you probably never even thought of before, or information that contradicts what you’ve always believed to be correct.

1MStorage barrels. These can remain on cellar or basement cement that’s not heated. Cooler cement will not transfer toxins into the barrels. However, garage cement will get heated by the driveway, so in that case, place barrels on floor boards. In addition, some of your water should be stored in portable bottles for easier handling.

Reusing bottles. Filling old juice and soda bottles with water is fine as long as the plastic is rated “PET” or “PETE.” Don’t use milk jugs. If you’re still concerned about leached plastic chemicals, treat the water at the time of consumption, not before you store it.

Boiling (212 degrees). A full boil is not necessary to kill bacteria; heating at 160 degrees for 30 minutes, or 185 degrees for three minutes, will burn less fuel than boiling for the popular 10 minutes.

Pool water. The FDA says pool water is safe to drink up to 4 PPM of chlorine.

Nearby river. Make sure you have iodine tablets ready. Keep in mind during a water shortage, the river will be bedlam, what with everyone else going for it.

Amount stored. Don’t just store a month’s worth. A disaster could cause a year-long or even several-year water shortage.

How much water does one person need? One gallon a day. But this includes for hygiene and cooking, and unforeseen medical needs.

Food vs. water. Though food has calories and water has zero, water is much more important to the body. A few days without any water and you’ll be dragging yourself on the ground, whereas a few days without food, but with plenty of water, and you’ll still be in good shape. And sports drinks and soda do not replace water.

Taste. Stored water will taste bad because it’s been without oxygen. Before drinking, pour it back and forth between two glasses to replenish oxygen.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

1 in 4 Female Undergrads sexually assaulted

One in four (25 percent) of college women reported they received unsolicited sexual contact while in college, says the recent Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey of 150,000 students.

1SDHow can on-campus safety be heightened?

  • Students should have a hardcopy and smartphone-stored list of contact information for all kinds of help. The school’s emergency and security numbers should be on speed dial.
  • Memorize key numbers in case your phone is stolen or the juice dries up.
  • Ditch the headphones when walking outside.
  • See if the campus has a security escort service.
  • Take self defense classes often. Many college campuses have martial arts clubs; join and learn.
  • Don’t always walk the same paths to and from classes so that predators don’t learn your patterns.
  • Review the privacy settings of all your social media accounts, as some accounts have geolocation features that can reveal your location via photos.
  • Keep your windows locked! Always keep the door locked as much as possible and always overnight.

What about social settings?

  • Out late at a bar? Never leave alone; always have someone with you. And make sure you know precisely how to get to your next destination.
  • Never get drunk. Yep, I’m serious. Though many victims are sober at the time of assault, getting drunk can open many opportunities for being victimized, such as being unaware that someone just slipped the “date rape” drug in your fifth drink.
  • In fact, never let your drink out of sight. If you don’t want to take it with you to the restroom, then either finish it or trash it first.
  • Never accept a drink that you didn’t see poured, and never accept an opened can of soda.
  • If you feel it’s time to leave, it probably is. You don’t owe any explanations. In fact, if you say, “I have to go,” pushy people will ask why and urge you to stay. So instead, silently and nonchalantly make your exit. If someone nabs you along the way, tell them you need to 1) get some air outside, 2) make a phone call or answer a text, 3) get something from your car.
  • If it’s more obvious you’re leaving for the night (e.g., putting on coat and boots), say you 1) just received an urgent text, 2) have an early exam tomorrow, 3) look ‘em hard in the eye and say, “I’m leaving. DEAL.” Then leave.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Do It yourself home security getting easier

How would you like a home security system that’s also your personal assistant? Angee Inc., a new company out of San Francisco, knows you’d like one.

ANG2Features of the Angee Device

  • Smartphone controlled
  • Has a Full HD camera with night vision.
  • Learns habits of and senses presence of household members to automatically arm and disarm.
  • Camera rotates 360 degrees—and does so as it detects motion; intruders will not be able to get out of view while they’re burglarizing.
  • Security tags provide security of a property’s entire perimeter, so that entrance via a tagged door or window will be detected.

Furthermore, says an article on gizmag.com:

  • The Angee system is portable, is powered by a battery and has local data storage.
  • So if there’s a power outage, Angee will be able to keep monitoring your home for at least eight hours.
  • Angee can record about an hour of high definition footage, and longer at lower quality.
  • Footage can also be stored in the cloud. However, Angee can distinguish between benign activity and suspicious activity, so there shouldn’t be any useless footage time.

How can Angee tell suspicious activity from normal activity?

  • It learns to recognize the movement patterns of household members. Intruders move differently.
  • Burglars also enter and exit their target homes in a peculiar manner.
  • If the burglar has an accomplice, there’s likely to be conversation, and Angee will detect these unfamiliar voices.
  • Angee will recognize familiar people by their voice or by a Bluetooth signal that connects with their smartphone.
  • If the Angee user has an iOS or Android, they will receive an alert when Angee detects suspicious activity; Angee will then stream video of this activity.

The gizmag.com article further explains that Angee can be controlled by voice commands, including recognition of vocal passwords. Angee is practically human, as it can even remind you to close windows if rain is predicted. It can also check your calendar and answer the phone. There are many ways the user can “program” Angee to behave, and Angee also gets smarter and more personalized the longer you have it in your home.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Angee Inc., has raised over $260,000 and is still going. The unit is projected to retail at $429, and the expected delivery date is October of 2016.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. Support Angee on Kickstarter. See Disclosures.