It’s the new year! When was the last time you checked your locks? If you’re like most people, your locks barely cross your mind except for when you accidentally lock yourself out. However, we should all think more about our door locks, because they’re the first bit of home security! Think about your keys — how many do you have, and where do you keep them? Do any of your doors have a “weird lock,” or do you have to get aggressive with the lock. If you’ve got a problem, it might be time to upgrade.
There are a few different styles of locks, but they can generally be broken down into three categories: knob locks, deadbolt locks, and electronic locks. Knob locks are the most common, and are your traditional lock that needs a key. However, they are the most susceptible to home intruders, as many can be easily picked with just a bit of patience. Deadbolt locks are added onto knob locks — the outside is a turnable knob, but the inside is a bolt that must be unlatched. These add extra security, but can be a fire hazard in apartment buildings. Finally, electronic knobs are just as they sound; punch in the code or approach with an authorized device and the door opens itself. Many people use their cell phone as a “key,” so when they come home, the lock recognizes their device and opens for them. While this type of lock could be considered the most secure, it does mean practicing phone security and making sure that the app could be disabled remotely if the phone was ever lost or damaged.
It depends on your living situation, as well. If you have a family with small children, a combination knob and deadbolt lock may work best. If you live alone or with roommates, an electronic lock might do the trick. But remember — you can’t make any of these decisions until you check your locks!
When it comes to your home, you’re the king of the castle. However, even a king has to mind security details, and even though you might be on top of everything, here are a few quick tips just in case!
- Have carbon monoxide detectors?
- Before bringing an extension cord outside for use, make sure it says it’s suitable for outdoor appliances.
- Do you have a smoke detector on every floor? Did you know that dirt buildup can interfere with their sensors?
- Upgrade your smoke alarms to be interlinked, so that if the one in the basement goes off, the one on the third floor will too.
- Before leaving for a trip, inform a trustworthy neighbor—and discreetly; don’t yell it across driveways.
- Abstain from posting pictures of your vacation on social media until you get back home.
These may seem like small, inconsequential things to you, but every step towards home security is an important one to take. Security is not about protection after something happens — it’s protection so that something never happens.
Western Eagle Security focuses on physical security, naturally, but during the holidays, cyber-security becomes an important point to focus on as well. In short, cyber-security is making sure what you do online is protected, because everything you do online is effectively done with a million strangers. So how do you make sure you’re being safe online, especially when it comes to shopping?
Here are a few tips:
- Use a credit card online: Your debit card is attached to your credit card, and in the event you use it for payment and it gets hacked, the hackers now have access to your debit card.
- Shop secure sites: What does that mean? Sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble will have encrypted the check-out process for your security, but how do you tell? The easiest way to do that is looking at the web address; if it says httpS, that means that it’s a legitimate, secured site.
- Be smart about your email: If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the email. Sites like Amazon and other shopping sites will always put the company name in the address, and they will never ask you to email them your username and password. If something doesn’t seem right to you, call the company whose website you’ve ordered from.
Overall, it’s good to practice common sense online. If you’re uncomfortable with technology in general, your local library or community center will likely offer computer classes. If you are able to ask family members for help, do that as well. Younger generations have grown up with this technology at their fingertips, and they’ll make sure that you don’t go wrong when trying to do a bit of Christmas shopping!
As much as the holidays are about happiness and wanting the best for other people, there are still some people who will try to take advantage of others at this time of year. As deliveries are numerous at this time of year and many people leave their porches unprotected, it’s expected that the theft rate seems to skyrocket.
What can you do to prevent that?
Something which you may already have installed is a camera system. This won’t necessarily deter thieves from picking up packages, but at least you’ll have them on camera. At that point, it may be more about shaming them for stealing a Christmas delivery than being able to deliver actual justice. However, if it’s known within your neighborhood that you have cameras — or if they’re visible, that may be enough to deter them.
Amazon, for instance, may have a better idea. They have set up delivery centers all over the country. When your package is ready to ship, it goes to the delivery center, instead of your house. When you pick it up, you’ll need a code to get into the locker or some form of ID. This ensures that a package isn’t just waiting at your doorstep for anyone to come pick it up, but that it’s in a secure environment. You can also arrange to pick up packages at a local post office. If you live in an apartment building, it’s a good idea to ask the superintendent how package deliveries are handled. If possible, they can store packages in a safe location.
And if it’s possible too, try to make sure you’re home for the delivery. Many websites include a tracking number in your order, so it’s easy to see when your package is expected and to figure out if you can be home or not. Whether or not you need to sign for it, being able to bring it in right away and remove temptation is the best possible solution.
As the holidays are coming up, it’s important to address security. Many people have a constant flow of visitors during the season, and as such, they tend to rely on that flow of visitors as a measure of security. Why would a thief attack a house full of people? That’s true, but at the same time, having people around you should never be your only form of security.
If you live in an apartment building, security measures become even more important. You know your vistors, but you don’t know who else is coming to visit your neighbors. Your neighbors could be the nicest people in the world, but their visitors might see your building as an easy opportunity to go robbing from people. Many apartment buildings don’t always have the most rigorous security either, so if you plan to have people in, always meet them at the door and bring them up to your apartment. People wandering through the building unsupervised could be lost…or up to something.
After Thanksgiving, when Black Friday and Christmas shopping kicks in is another time to be concerned about security. While it can be a lot of fun to brag about the deals you found on social media, you’re only opening yourself up to the chances of someone coming along and stealing all those sweet deals. Similarly, when ordering presents online for Christmas, always make sure you’re home for the delivery — many people know that packages being delivered in December mean something expensive they can resell.
While you should be able to relax during the holidays, and we hope you do, it’s still important to practice the same basic security measures you would in previous months. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are some people out there who would happily steal Christmas presents you spent your hard-earned money on. To have the best holiday season possible, keep up the common sense.
Porch lights are pretty automatic for most people. They turn them on at night to make it easier for anyone who might be coming home late, and it’s also a sign that there are people in the house. But did you know there are times when it’s actually better to turn your porch lights off?
For example, when you go on vacation, you should turn your porch light off. Having them on for an extended period of time actually suggests that you’re not home, rather than the opposite. You can actually invest in timed lights that can be controlled from your phone, but overall, it’s actually better not to have the light on. Many people leave the porch light on even after they’ve gone to sleep, but this isn’t necessary either. If it’s for security reasons, there are motion-sensor lights that you can purchase to help with this.
When should you have them on? Well, if you’re expecting a delivery or a repairman to come to the house, porch lights will help regardless of the time of day. If you’re leaving children at home while you go out, having the lights on will give you peace of mind. During the evening, it’s good to have them on as long as you turn them off before you go to bed for the night.
Porch and other home lighting are a good first step to home security, but you shouldn’t stop there. Investing in an alarm system or using a phone app to manage the lighting in addition to your other security measures helps the home feel safe and secure.
Your home is an investment, one that you need to protect. It can be as simple as locking your doors at night or as complex as installing security cameras in areas around the house. There’s a tendency in suburban areas to leave a back door open, especially if the kids are coming and going all the time, but that simply isn’t safe.
If your garage connects to your house, make sure you check the security of your garage. It’s a good idea to check every door that opens to the outside for any weak spots — is it harder to close, for instance? Is the lock in good working condition? Don’t forget to check your garage door for weaknesses either, and always keep it closed at night. It’s also a good idea to keep your garage door opener hidden in the car, as opposed to lying out on the seat, where someone could use it just to break in.
Sometimes the simplest measures are the best. It may seem like paranoia, but it never hurts to one last walk around your house before you go to bed. Are doors and windows closed and fully locked? Are all valuables secured and out of sight? Are your cars locked up, or in your garage?
If you’re worried about your home security, you can invest in a camera system. Depending on the type of setup you get, it can be expensive, but many find that for their peace of mind, it’s worth it. Cameras are set up around the front and back of the house, as well as the garage, and can be set to automatically record the entire day, or over a set period. When potential home invaders can see that they’re being recorded, they’re a lot more likely to change their mind about this particular house.
It can be a dangerous world out there, and home is where everybody spends almost all their time! It needs to be a safe place, one you wouldn’t even stop to consider describing as such. That’s why security measures are so important, from checking locks to checking potential footage.