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.

Busting Down the Door: 12 Ways to Stop Burglars from Entering Your Home

There is no such thing as a home that is fully burglar-proof, but there is also no such thing as burglars who have the skills of Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible. With the right security in place, you can get your home almost burglar-proof.

When most people think of security, they only think of a few devices, and though they are great to have, they don’t protect you fully. Yes, you might have fake looking cameras that deter thieves, but what about those who try to get in anyway. Kicking the door in, which is an easy way a criminal gets into a locked home, can still be done. The only thing separating a burglar from getting in through a locked door is half inch pine molding. A 12 year old boy can kick in a door easy enough. You need to beef up your doors.

Here are some door reinforcement devices that can help:

  • Deadbolt/door knob wraps – these strengthen the immediate area around the lock
  • Door bar jammer – fits snuggly under the doorknob
  • Door brace – device that makes it more difficult to kick a door down
  • Door frame reinforcement – installed on the door jamb and made of steel

You can also use commercial kits like the Door Devil. This is a kit that contains a device made of heavy steel. It is installed over the door jamb, and is screwed directly into the frame. The system is easy to install, and it will add another level of protection to your home. When you combine this with other types of security, such as motion detection lights, surveillance cameras, and a security system, it will be very difficult for burglars to enter.

Here are some more general tips to keep your home more secure than ever before:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. Keep them locked when you are home and even during the day.
  2. Always keep your windows locked. This includes those on the second floor. A burglar can certainly climb.
  3. Keep the blinds and curtains closed. This helps to ensure that no one can look into your home to check out your valuables.
  4. Use top-flight locks and door reinforcements.
  5. Install security films on your windows. These will help to give the panes strength and will prevent penetrating objects from coming in, such as crow bars and baseball bats.
  6. Collect your mail and newspapers as soon as possible when they arrive.
  7. Give your home that ‘lived-in’ look with a system for home automation turning lights on and off.
  8. Place men’s work boots at the front or back door and make sure they look worn and scuffed. If you park your car out in the drive, place men’s gloves on the dash. If burglars see this, they will think twice as they will believe there is a large man in the home.
  9. Place a large dog bowl by the door, and make sure to make it look realistic. Add chewed up dog toys or a leash to the area, too.
  10. Make sure to trim shrubs that are hiding home entry points.
  11. Go to Google News. Type in your city and state along with the phrase “door kicked in.” You will likely be shocked by what you find. This will be more motivation to protect yourself.
  12. Make the investment into a beefy home security system. The best systems offer full alarm and police station monitoring along with cameras providing a clear view of what is happening in your home when you aren’t there. You can watch right on your mobile device.

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

Home Door Kick-in Prevention

Burglars love doors, because that’s their No. 1 way of gaining entry to a house. When thinking of ways to make your home safer, you should really home in on your doors.

  • Solid wood door without a window (ideally with solid wood core)
  • Top flight deadbolt (ideally two)
  • Reinforced frame and doorjamb

1BThe above elements would make it almost impossible for an MMA fighter to kick the door in. Yes, you should be thinking in terms of kick-proofing your door. By the time we’re 18, we’ve probably witnessed hundreds of door kick-ins on TV shows and in movies. No matter how many unrealistic things we’ve seen on film, one thing stands out as being very true to life: the ease of kicking in a door.

If the door has a window, we have a problem. A crook could smash through it and unlock the door. Here is where a second deadbolt, near floor level, comes in handy. If this can’t be done, then have decorative steel bars placed over the window.

A metal door is also doable for good security, as long as its interior is reinforced and it has a lockblock.

Keep in mind that even a steel door (the most secure type) can be kicked in if the lock’s screws are too short. You get what you pay for; do not cut corners when it comes to purchasing a deadbolt. They are not all the same. A good one extends deep into the doorframe.

I also recommend a one-sided keyless deadbolt for use when you’re home. As its name implies, it can’t be manipulated from the outside (which makes it impossible for an intruder to circumvent).

The doorjamb and frame should be as strong as possible. Don’t just rely on a good deadbolt. The strike plate’s screws should be three inches. Install door reinforcement technology. This beefs up the door jamb to prevent kick-ins. See Door Devil.

What about sliding doors?

  • The glass should be reinforced or replaced with polycarbonate.
  • The track should have a bar to prevent the door from being forced open.
  • Track stoppers also come in the form of small devices that screw onto the track and block the door.
  • The door should be equipped with a motion and vibration sensor that triggers an alarm.

Keep a covering over the windows as much as possible. I understand that you want your home to be bright and cheery, but find a happy medium by realizing that a burglar can get a really good look inside your house through uncovered sliding doors. For sure, keep the curtains drawn or the shades down when it’s dark out.

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

Step by step how to reinforce Door Locks

Don’t let the idea of reinforcing your house’s doors intimidate you. Here is step by step instruction on installing new stronger locks.

2HYour House’s Door Parts Inventory

  • Any door without a deadbolt gets a deadbolt, which should be a grade 1 or 2.
  • Are the screws of any existing deadbolts tight?
  • If you open the door and turn the knob, the deadbolt’s throw-bolt will pop out the side of the door. It should be at least one inch and appear secure.
  • The screws in the strike plates and deadbolts should be at least three inches.

Deadbolt Replacement

  • Chances are, your inferior deadbolt is held by four screws total.
  • Take the measurement of the distance between the center of the cylinder hole and the edge of the door. Write these down; you’ll need them for your new deadbolt.
  • Notate the horizontal and vertical center of the new hole.
  • Now drill, and slowly. Then test out the deadbolt. You may have to make refinements to the hole if the deadbolt doesn’t fit perfectly.
  • Before attaching the deadbolt, see if the attached throw-bolt strike plate has a flush fit.
  • Do not use a power drill to put in the screws, as this could strip the wood.

Lockset Strike Plate Replacement

  • Your new strike plate should be attached with three inch screws.
  • If the hole, through which you’re driving the screws, is too small, you’ll need to drill it out for a good fit.
  • The screws should be slightly angled to catch the framing.

Deadbolt Strike Plate Replacement

  • Your new deadbolt, upon purchase, will come with a strike plate. A very sturdy strike plate requires four screws.
  • Mark the old deadbolt strike plate’s center.
  • The new faceplate will be temporarily put in so that you can mark its position.
  • After taking out the plate, make sure that the holes through which you’ll be drilling screws will fit the screws. You may need to make adjustments to enlarge the holes.
  • Using a wood chisel, remove the wood so that the faceplate and strike box fit.
  • You’re now ready to mount the plate and box, using four screws of three inch length.

Installing strong locks is just one step in the process. However, I must say this: Kicking in a typical house door is a lot easier than reinforcing your door to make it kick-in-proof. A burglar needn’t be a karate expert or soccer player to kick open a locked door that’s inadequately secured.  Watch this video “Anti-Kick door reinforcement” on how to secure your doors with door jam reinforcement technology.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com. Disclosures.

Home Security Cameras 101: the Audio Element

Before buying a security camera, ask yourself:

  • Where do you intend on placing it?
  • How well-hidden can/will the unit be?
  • Are you familiar with laws pertaining to surveillance of people without them knowing about it and the associated audio recordings?

1HLaws vary from state to state regarding the audio element of a surveillance camera, but on a federal level, the requirement is that one person needs to be aware of the recording. Because this is the federal law, it makes it impossible for any state to allow zero people being aware.

So what this means is that it’s illegal to audio record in the form of eavesdropping. It’s prohibited, for instance, to secretly record a conversation that two people, without them being aware, are having across the room at a coffee house that you’re all in.

However, that federal rule that one person needs to be aware of the recording means that you can get away with “secretly” recording those two people—as long as you’re part of their conversation, sitting right with them. So if those two people learn you recorded them, they can gripe all they want, but you’re protected by federal law since you sat and talked with them.

The law for audio recording isn’t the same as for visual, in which the latter is allowable for publically seen environments. This is where “Dual Consent” comes into play for ANY audio recording. Some states require both parties need to consent to audio recording in order for the recording to commence.

These rules apply to phone conversations as well as cameras, which is why you often get an alert that your customer service call “may be recorded for training purposes.”

Loopholes

  • If one of those two people is informed you’re recording them, then all is well, though once at least one of them knows this, it’s sure to influence the conversation (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • What seems to be a contradiction of that aforementioned federal rule is that you CAN secretly record those two people—provided that you don’t intend to use the recording for any illegal purposes (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • So it looks as though you can secretly record a conversation between your wife and the man she’s cheating on you with, then present it to her later as evidence you caught her. Nothing illegal about that (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • But if you covertly record your boss conversing with his secret mistress, then threaten you’ll give the recording to his wife unless he gives you a $1,000 bonus, then that’s illegal.
  • This is NOT legal advice. Consult your attorney and local laws.

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

Set up Family’s Controls on Home Computers

The computers in your household should have controls on them for security—even if you don’t have children living with you.

3HChrome OS

  • On the Chrome browser in the upper right are three horizontal lines; click this symbol.
  • Click “Add supervised user.”
  • Enter the name and password for the new account.
  • This allows the other family member to access their account using the Chrome OS. Just set the controls for that person via the www.google.com/settings/chrome/manage.
  • You will be able to see the sites that the family member visits, and needless to say, you can block the ones you don’t want that individual accessing. The caveat is that it does not permit bulk blocking; so if you want to block five sites, you must set the block up one at a time for each site.
  • The plus side is that this system allows a user access to your Chromebook.

Windows 10

  • Go to account.microsoft.com/family and sign in.
  • Enter the e-mail address of other family members.
  • Or, set up a new one for them.
  • Click the “invite” link.
  • The family member(s) will appear on the family list. You now can set controls.
  • Controls can apply to apps, games, visiting particular websites and even the time of computer use.
  • This feature includes additional controls like seeing the online activity of the other family member(s).

OS X

  • Click Users & Groups in System Preferences.
  • See the lock icon? With your password, unlock it.
  • Click the “plus” symbol located under the user list.
  • You’ll see Managed with Parental Controls. Take it from there to have the new account added to the Mac’s master list.

There are lots of options for customizing the kind of control you want. Take your time reviewing all of the things you can set controls on.

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

Most Locks are stupid easy to pick

I hate to say this, but…any dummy can learn to pick a lock. This means that the locks on your house’s doors are probably very “pickable” unless you have a top-flight lock system—which few homes actually have.

1BAn article on lifehacker.com describes how easy it was for the writer to pick a lock from a lockpick set. He discovered that this type of lock isn’t much different than door locks. He also makes a point about the term “pick resistant.” This doesn’t mean “pick preventable.”

Don’t count on your average door locks to be pick resistant. They are pick easy. Grade 1 locks are the most pick resistant, while Grade 3 are easy.

The article also notes that a fancy looking lock might entice a thief to try to pick it, as he’ll assume a fancy lock means lots of valuables inside. A Grade 1 deadbolt doesn’t have to look snazzy, though.

The author also writes that there are other ways than picking to get past a lock.

  • Bump keys. You can get these at a hardware store or online. Their ridges can line up with a lock’s pins and open it. These are truly master keys to most house doors.
  • Lock snapping. Apply pressure to the lock and snap it in half. However, few locks these days are made this weak.
  • Credit cards. Sticking a credit card in between the door and frame really does work—but not for deadbolts.

Many burglars use non-picking methods. The bottom line is that average locks are just plain weak. But not all intruders care to buff up their lock picking skills. Impulsive intruders, such as teen boys, just want to get in without being savvy about it, so they’ll often kick open a door, smash through a window or ring the doorbell till someone answers and force their way in. Heck, they may even do what so often they do: waltz through an unlocked door.

The FBI says that most burglars get in via forced entry. But it greatly helps to have great door locks. Intruders don’t want to get noticed. They don’t want to set off every dog within a hundred yards barking. They usually really care about being as sneaky as possible. But if they lack lock picking skills, they’ll likely give up on a well-protected house.

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

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.

15 Home Safety and Security Tips

There’s always a perfect time to assess your home’s safety and security. Do you employ all of the following practices?1H

  1. Make sure your house’s roofing is fire resistant. If not, get it remodeled.
  2. Not only should you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but you should also regularly inspect them for lint and dust buildup. Plus, they should all be integrated, so if one goes off in the kitchen, the ones in the bedrooms and even basement get triggered.
  3. If your mailbox isn’t one that locks, get one, so this way you won’t be leaving outgoing mail with sensitive information sitting in an unlocked box.
  4. If you need an extension cord for an outside appliance, make sure it’s one that says: “Suitable for Use with Outdoor Appliances.”
  5. Never leave any stickie notes on your door saying you’ll be back in a few minutes…even if you’re expecting a delivery.
  6. Know that if there’s a power outage, the food in your freezer will last for up to 48 hours. Have a backup generator or only stock up on dry/canned goods.
  7. When you’re done using an oily rag, set it outside to dry, then put it in a metal can with a lid. An oily rag is flammable even when not in contact with a flame.
  8. If a battery is non-rechargeable, don’t try to charge it, as this could make it explode.
  9. To repel an intruder from getting in through your windows, plant thorny bushes around them.
  10. If you have a home security system, display the company’s decals on your windows and signs in your yard. If you don’t have a system, you can get these items online; display them anyways.
  11. When you get a snowfall, clear a path to your door, and better yet, shovel the driveway—even if you’re not going anywhere, as this will make burglars think someone is home.
  12. Before leaving on any extended errands and especially travel, set your home phone’s ringer to mute so that an incessantly ringing phone doesn’t get a burglar’s attention that you’re not home.
  13. Before leaving town, put a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper, and tell a trusted adult of your travel plans.
  14. Before leaving for a trip, arrange with a trusted person to have them park their car in your driveway.
  15. While you’re enjoying your vacation, avoid posting about it on social media. Burglars peruse social media to see who’s not home.

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