Our home is our sanctuary. During this pandemic, we stay at home to protect ourselves and others from the Covid-19 virus. Our home is the private space where we relax, and the thought of someone being in our house who isn’t invited is horrifying.
And yet, we know home robberies occur. They happen when people are at work, or leave to run errands. They happen when houses are empty during vacation time. And who hasn’t woken in the middle of the night to some strange sound, and feeling incredibly vulnerable, flicked on lights hoping not to find someone inside?
These are common and legitimate fears. Law enforcement officers will tell you that people often say after a crime has been committed, “Things like that don’t happen in this neighborhood.”
They don’t, until they do.
Keep in Mind
Besides the obvious physical dangers to you and your family, there are profound psychological after-effects of a home invasion. People feel stupid for not having taken reasonable precautions and security measures to prevent the crime. Worse yet, feelings of vulnerability often last for months, or even years, afterward. This fear of being vulnerable, of the burglars returning, or of worse things happening can be debilitating for some, and simply disturbing for most. That is why it’s important to accept that crimes can and do happen anywhere and to take prudent cautions and preparations to keep yourself and loved ones safe.
You should have peace of mind while living in your own home. Follow the measures below to increase your security and reduce your risk of loss of property or personal injury to you or your family.
Hardening Your Home
While home security solutions encompasses crime, fire, and accident prevention practices, we are concentrating on crime here today.
The best way to prevent crime in your home is to reduce the opportunities for crime around your house and property. You do this by making your dwelling a harder target. Think of your home as having an outer perimeter, inner perimeter, entry points, home interior, and safe rooms. The specifics of what you choose will be determined by location and, oftentimes, budget.
Not In My Backyard
Outdoor lighting and landscaping can increase the security of your home. Some options include a fence around your yard with a high-quality lock, installing sensor lights covering avenues of approach, trimming shrubbery or trees around your home that could shield intruders, or strategically planting bushes with thorns, such as roses, that deter criminals from getting to certain windows.
There are many different alarm systems on the market, but the primary things alarms do are detect and communicate. Some alarms function as both fire alarms and intrusion alarms. Panic or silent duress buttons are a third function that allow some alarms to manually communicate the need for assistance. High tech systems can monitor and control other things such as temperature, warn of floods in the basement, etc.
Before purchasing, seek out objective advice. Many police crime-prevention units and fire departments have alarm specialists, and your home or rent insurance carrier may also have a specialist that may be able to recommend equipment. Do your due diligence to ensure you purchase an alarm that will actually deliver what you are purchasing.
At least one-third of all burglars enter homes through unlocked doors or windows. Get into the habit of keeping doors locked, not just when the house is vacant, but when you are home as well.
The goal is to make it as difficult, time-consuming, and noisy as possible for criminals to get into your home. This may include sturdy doors, deadbolt locks, reinforced frames, strong strike plates, inside door hinges, wide-angle peepholes in your doors, video monitor doorbells, “Charlie bars” for sliding doors or windows, 3M Scotchshield or similar laminate on windows, and additional storm doors.
Finally, there are tools for home defense. You are legally and morally justified in defending yourself or others from physical harm, although this should be your last option because all other measures failed. Defensive tools are either lethal (firearms) or less-than-lethal (e.g. hospital safe Presidia Gel® from Reflex Protect® or a stun gun). For most, a less-than-lethal option is always preferred. The reasons are many: Legal, moral, and liability; age and mental acuity of house occupants; location of house or apartment; required training to be proficient with a tool; cost; and physical abilities are a few of the considerations.
Even those who choose a lethal defensive tool for their home will benefit from having a less-than-lethal choice available. Not all problems are nails requiring a hammer.
Taking the First Step
You don’t have to do everything at once if you have budget or time constraints. But do an assessment of your home’s security strengths and weaknesses now, and it will help direct you towards what to do now and what can wait till later. Start today.
Also keep in mind that insurance companies extend home insurance discounts to homeowners who utilize certain security systems. What’s more, your home security solutions will allow you to live with peace of mind while at home in your castle, or when away. You’ll know you’ve done the best you can to protect you, your loved ones, and your home.
Alain Burrese is the
Active Defense Training Division Director at Reflex Protect®
maker of innovative non-lethal Presidia Gel® spray