Home Security Basics for New Homeowners
Congratulations on your new home. Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a veteran with multiple moves under your belt, making your new house a home is a lot of work. From the packing and unpacking to address changes to switching over utilities, you have a lot on your mind. One topic that may not be on your list, however, is home security. Brush up on what you should be paying attention to in the category of home security for your new home.
Keys to the Castle
You’ve signed the papers and have keys in your hand. But how many other people have a copy of the same key? Even if your home is new, it’s best to change the locks before settling in. Similarly, if there is an automated lock or a hide-a-key that relies on a code, change the code immediately to ensure no one outside your home has access.
Evaluate Windows and Doors
Home security centers around access points. Make sure those access points are secure by replacing old single-pane glass or adding security bars outside vulnerable windows. Also check the locks on all doors and windows. Reinforce basic knob locks with a secondary deadbolt lock. Also add locks to your sliding windows and doors. As an alternative, cut wooden dowels to size for each window and sliding glass door runner.
Scrutinize the Landscaping
While flowers and plants bring the joy of color and a natural environment, your landscaping can also bring a security hazard. Large bushes and shrubs can act as a hiding place for criminals so trim them back or move them further from the house. Instead, plant roses, holly, or other thorny or sharp-leaved plants under windows to deter thieves.
Stand back from your house and evaluate the trees surrounding the building. Assess branches that reach to the upper level of the home or which may provide a hiding spot for attackers. Trim back lower limbs or create more space between limbs.
Try to put yourself into the mind of a criminal when looking at your property. Never leave ladders outside that someone can use to access a second-story window. Similarly, avoid parking the motorhome next to the house that can be used as entry to the second story. The same concept applies to stacked lumber, totes, stones, or anything else a robber can use to boost themselves up.
There are two levels of security—one that keeps perpetrators out of the home and another that deters them from trying to break in. Most criminals take advantage of easy opportunities, such as an unlocked car. The same applies to the house. For example, the sound of a large barking dog will often be enough to drive potential thieves away.
Noticeable cameras are an effective deterrent. Place a few around the main entry points and make them visible as if to say, “Smile, you’re on camera”. For an added level of security, install cameras that are WiFi capable and able to alert you via a phone app if there is someone near. Even a basic Ring doorbell camera will offer a view of visitors before opening the door and many have storage to hold pictures of activity while you’re not at home.
Lighting is an equally important deterrent. Motion sensored lights surrounding the home will illuminate any activity after dark. Having a light suddenly pop on may be all the warning an intruder needs. Ensuring adequate lighting also eliminates dark shadows to lurk in and use as cover during a break-in.
Don’t Take a Vacation From Security
Automatic lighting deters criminals whether you're home or not, but take extra steps if you are out of town. A thief will ignore the light flipping on if he is confident the house is unoccupied. Be sure to hold or have someone pick up newspapers and packages so they don’t accumulate. Also ask a neighbor to bring your trash receptacles back to the house following pick up. Put indoor lights on timers so they come on and off at different times throughout the day and night. Leave a car in the driveway if possible. You can also rely on a security system attached to your phone app.
Moving to a new home is an exciting time, but be sure protecting your family and your belongings makes it onto the long list of items to take care of during the transition.