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Making Your Home Secure

Read these tips and suggestions on how to secure your home to help reduce the chances of a break-in. The steps are quite simple but can provide peace of mind, additional security and perhaps save you from theft.

In this document you will find information about:

  • Some General Safety Precautions
  • Installing Lights for Protection
  • Simple Non-Electric Security Devices
  • Electrical and Battery-Operated Security Devices
  • Improving Security with Locks

SOME GENERAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

  • There is no absolute way to protect your home from break-ins. Locks and other safety devices serve primarily to prevent entry by the amateur thief and to slow or deter the professional.
  • Another deterrent is to avoid regular routines that make it obvious you are away from home at specific times of the day or night. This may be unavoidable, but try to vary your routines of departure and arrival when possible.
  • Never chat with a stranger about leaving your home for a vacation, a visit, etc. You never know who may be watching for an opportunity for a break-in.
  • Alert your local police if you are leaving for an extended period. Stop the delivery of newspapers, mail and other items that could be telltale signs that you are away from home.
  • Arrange for someone to mow your lawn in the summer or remove snow from your drive in the winter when it's necessary for the family to be away. This gives the appearance that someone is at home. Such precautions could be well worth the cost.
  • Work out an arrangement with your neighbors for mutual alertness when anyone in the neighborhood will be away.
  • Use any other precautions to make it appear that someone is at home at all times.

INSTALLING LIGHTS FOR PROTECTION

  • Good lighting is one of the greatest deterrents to crime. You can mount floodlights or spotlights on the corner of your house to flood the walls in all directions (see image). Such lights are inexpensive, relatively easy to mount and highly effective in reducing break-ins.
  • Spotlights can be either single or double, although the double spotlight is recommended. Always mount the light high enough so it cannot be unscrewed easily by a burglar.
  
  • Floodlights mounted high on the end of a house provide a great amount of light for a wide area (see image). Floodlights can be either single or double, although double is strongly recommended.
  • Lights mounted on either the corner or end of the house should be set in such a way that they illuminate dark areas behind rosebushes, screens, walls, trees, etc.
  • Mount spotlights or floodlights in any spots around the house that could provide a hiding place for burglars or prowlers.
  
  
  • In most cases you can wire spotlights or floodlights directly into the wiring system of your home (see image). Wiring for floodlights can be tapped into the nearest outlet box.
  • Before tapping into any line or circuit in the house, be sure to disconnect the power. To do this you will need to trip the circuit breaker or remove the fuse serving that circuit. For extra protection, cut off the current at the main switch while working on the wires.
  • First, remove the plate over the outlet box. Attach the black wire to the black wire, the white wire to the white wire and the ground wire to the ground, as illustrated in this image.
  • If solderless connectors are code approved in your area, use them to make your electrical connections. They are much faster and easier to use.
  • The wiring from the outlet box to the floodlight can be extended as far as necessary. As a rule, #14-3 wiring is adequate for lighting installations. You should check your local code for the requirements in your area. Some areas still require #12-3. The three conductors will allow you to ground any circuits that might be exposed to the weather. Securely attach the new wiring run over the entire distance from the outlet box to the location where it is mounted.
  • Use a junction box at the place where the spotlight is to be mounted (see image). Simply mount the junction box, pull the wire through the hole in the junction box and mount the spotlight to the box.
  • You can mount floodlights at all corners and eaves of your home with little effort. If you are in an area with a high break-in rate, consider installing as many floodlights as possible. This lighting can be much cheaper than losses in a theft.
  
  
  • Use plug-in timers to turn the spotlights on or off when you are away (see image). Timers can be used for activating and turning off lights in any rooms of the house.
  • When you use timers, do not set them for the same time. For example, light in one room might be set to come on for a short interval at about 2 a.m., while another light in another room might be set to kick on and off at a totally different time. Such variations in timing simulate a more natural lighting use to an outside observer.
  • Install automatic timers in the main power line to spotlights mounted around the house. These timers can be set to activate the lights at any frequency or interval desired. You should have a qualified electrician wire these into your system.
  • Don't overlook the security value of good lighting. It is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to reduce break-ins. Warning: Replace burned-out bulbs immediately! The whole lighting system becomes ineffective if burned-out bulbs are not quickly replaced.
  

SIMPLE NON-ELECTRIC SECURITY DEVICES

  • To help protect against window break-ins, you can use a steel bolt or rod (see image).
  • First, drill a 1/2" or 3/4" hole completely through the lower sash, raise the window 3" to 4" and drill through the lower window sash hole into the upper sash. Attach a steel bolt or rod to the window casing with a long wood screw and a short length of chain.
  • With this arrangement, you can raise the window slightly for air at night without the danger of someone opening it completely while you are asleep. The bolt prevents someone from raising the window rapidly against the bolt, breaking the window frame and gaining entry. Caution: Don't use a wooden dowel. They may shrink in warm weather and expand in wet, causing them to loosen, fall out or weaken. Use only a steel bolt or rod.
  
  • This simple device provides a lot of security against break-ins at practically no cost while allowing in air at night.
  • Use a piece of 2x4 with felt or sponge glued on one end and a metal T screwed to the other end to provide protection from forced entry through a hall door (see image).
  • Saw the 2x4 to the required length to reach from the closed door to the wall in the hallway. The felt on one end prevents the 2x4 from damaging the wall while the metal T on the other end prevents it from slipping out from under the door.
  • Although this bar is obviously unsightly, use it during the night or when you are away from home and can leave the house through some other exit. It is simple but extremely effective. When this bar is in place, the door simply cannot be opened without a complete break-in.
  
  • This same device can also work where there is a wall across from the doorway. Simply cut the 2x4 ends at 45-degree angles to fit across to a corner wall. Install a regular doorstop at this point along the wall to prevent the 2x4 from slipping. This gives additional security (see image).
  • Sliding glass doors offer an inviting entryway for burglars. Use a simple piece of 1x2 or a steel rod in the entryway (see first image below).
  • When in place, the piece of wood or steel makes it impossible for the sliding glass door to be opened. Since there is a danger that a steel rod might accidentally break the glass, a 1x2 strip of wood is recommended.
  • You can use aluminum rods with crutch tips for a similar type of protection for wood sliding doors.
  • The aluminum rod makes it impossible for the sliding doors to be opened until the rod is removed. Screw 1" round head screws into the edge of each door to provide holding power to prevent the aluminum rod from slipping out of place.
  • One-way viewers allow you to observe any caller before you open the door (see second image below). Various types of one-way viewers are available.
  • Invest in a top-quality viewer. The basic difference between viewers is the range of view they provide. Low-cost viewers have a limited range while better-quality viewers provide clearer and wider ranges of vision.
  • One-way viewers are easy to install. Simply drill a hole of the proper size, insert the viewer and tighten it.

ELECTRICAL AND BATTERY-OPERATED SECURITY DEVICES

  • Various types of battery-operated door alarms are now available and can be installed on any ordinary door (see image).
  • Battery-operated door alarms operate on one single principle: When the door is opened or forced, the alarm goes off. The noise will awaken you and may scare off the burglar.
  • If you install a battery-operated door alarm, get a good-quality one that will work for a long period of time. Keep strong batteries in the alarm so it will function properly. A dead battery totally disconnects the system.
  • Ultrasonic alarm devices are also available. They can be quite expensive but are highly effective.
  • The ultrasonic alarm system is set up in one corner of the room. The system contains a solid-state transmitter-receiver that saturates the area with ultrasonic sound waves.
  • The sound waves bounce off walls in all directions. If the sound waves are broken, the system can turn on the light, sound an alarm or both.
  • Battery-operated ultrasonic alarm systems are available. Most of these alarm systems operate by plugging them into an electrical outlet.
  • Wireless intercom units provide a means to hear noise from key points around the house. These systems usually require no wiring-they are plugged into an electrical outlet.
  • Wireless intercom sets allow you to communicate between various rooms in the house and also make it possible for you to listen to noises in locations throughout your home.
  • Various intercom units are available. Some are wireless while others require a wiring system.

IMPROVING SECURITY WITH LOCKS

  • A typical lock offers little protection against break-ins. A professional burglar can usually enter the house with no more than a plastic credit card or a thin screwdriver.
  • Cylinder deadlocks provide a great deal of extra protection when used as a supplement to the regular locks in your home (see image).
  
  
  • A tubular deadlock adds protection without an unsightly appearance. Double tubular deadlocks can be installed in any door.
  • Double tubular deadlocks generally require a key to open the door from either side. This could present a problem exiting the house in an emergency. But some tubular deadlocks can be opened without a key from the inside (see image).
  • Surface-mounted cylinder deadlocks are easy to mount on any door (see image below).
  
  
  • The deadlock in this image has a bolt in the lock that come down through the holes in the strike. This offers far more protection against jimmying than an ordinary surface-mounted cylinder deadlock.
  • The basic disadvantage of surface-mounted deadlocks is their unsightly appearance, but designs are available in decorator styling.
  • Examine the locks in your home carefully. If they are old, worn or fail to give the needed protection, install new or supplementary locks immediately. It is well worth your time and effort.
  
  
  
TOOL AND MATERIAL CHECKLIST
Spotlight BulbsElectrical Wire
Automatic TimerOne-Way Viewer
Rubber CementBattery-Operated Door Alarm
Folding RuleCrutch Tips
StepladderHandsaw
Short Pieces of 1x2Spotlights
Outlet BoxPower Drill
Plug-In TimerScrewdriver
Hand DrillWireless Intercom System
Felt or Rubber SheetingSteel Rod
Junction Box 

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Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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