While our homes might seem like the safest location, in reality, they can be just as vulnerable to bad guys as the outside world.
But there’s got to be ways to better protect our abodes, right?
A lot of people have the notion that if they want to properly secure their home from invasion, they need to hire an expensive security company for the latest security system.
While that’s certainly useful, it’s not the only option. A wide number of other precautions exist to better secure your home – and most are pretty simple and easy to implement!
If you want to improve the security of your home, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve gathered some tips, techniques, and products to help you make your home a bit safer.
So, let’s jump right in.
12 Ways to Better Secure Your Home
The first item on the list comes with a good reason. If your external doors have nothing other than a doorknob, you have no door security. So, get a deadbolt.
That old credit card trick will work 8 out of 10 times on doors with no deadbolt.
I should know. I’m a locksmith! (Please, hold your applause.)
I can’t tell you how many times I go out into the field for a job only to discover time and time again how many houses, apartments, and condos do not have a simple deadbolt.
It absolutely blows my mind.
To achieve a base level of security, you need deadbolts on all exterior doors.
These harden your doors against credit card/swipe attacks, add an extra layer of resistance against the door being kicked in, and give a lockpicker yet another task he must do before he gains access.
If you’re looking at adding deadbolts to your doors, the quickest option is to hire a locksmith. He or she can bore the holes and install the deadbolts.
But if you prefer a DIY project, Dewalt makes a jig that easily lines up the holes.
2. Rekey the Locks
If you’ve just moved into a new apartment, condo, or home rental, you likely won’t have any control over rekeying the locks — though it never hurts to ask the landlord.
However, if you bought a new-to-you house, rekey the locks.
By that, I mean hire a locksmith to make a new key for every external door lock on the house.
You never know who previous owners gave keys to.
What you do know is that you don’t want random people gaining access to your place.
Also, don’t try to rekey the locks yourself.
It’s a bit of a learning curve and incredibly frustrating without the right tools.
Bite the bullet and hire a locksmith on this one.
Pro tip: bring the locks to the lock shop for the rekeying process. Usually, you’ll get a much cheaper deal and avoid a service trip fee.
3. Don’t Hide a Spare Key in Obvious Places
The number one place people hide a key is under the welcome mat.
Every thief on the planet knows that.
There’s no problem with hiding a spare key somewhere on your property — though I believe within the bowels of your vehicle is a safer place.
But, if you’re going to hide one, make sure to hide it in a less obvious place.
I visited a house once with a single solar-powered light staked alongside the driveway. Where on earth do you buy just one solar-powered light, and why only stake one down?
The answer…there was a spare key inside.
If you’re going to hide a key outside, be creative. Also, retrieve it secretly so that prying eyes don’t make any unnecessary discoveries.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
4. Install Safety Latches
While advertised as a childproof door lock, safety latches function as a fantastic way to improve your door’s resistance against forced entry.
Just slide the latch over, and you’ve now added 800 pounds of resistance to the door. This means it’s going to take several large men with probably a battering ram to break down your door.
The only catch here is they can’t be used on every door of the house while you’re gone.
They’re best for once you’re already in the home (e.g., going to sleep at night).
If you run errands during the day yet want to secure your house, I recommend investing in a night latch. These can be accessed externally.
5. Replace and Avoid Crappy Locks
My favorite type of lockout calls are houses with Kwikset locks.
Provided it’s not a Kwikset Smartkey, I can pick my way into these doors within 5 to 10 minutes. (SmartKey can’t be picked.)
So, avoid older Kwikset locks.
In general, any older lock that looks beat to pieces, rusty, or well-weathered needs replacing.
The internal hardware is likely ground to nubs, which makes picking the lock that much easier.
Schlage is a step up from Kwikset quality-wise. Truth be told, I have a significantly harder time picking these.
However, they’re still considered a beginner’s lock for pickers.
If you want something tougher to pick open, invest in Schlage Primus, ASSA Abloy, or an MX keyway. You’ll pay a lot more for these, but they’re harder to pick.
What about Medeco?
While these are really hard to pick (though not impossible), the price of these is insane. In short, more cost-effective methods exist.
6. Install Anti-Shatter Window Film
Anti-Shatter Windows Films are easily one of the coolest DIY products for hardening your home against baddies.
All you do is cut this film to size and put the sticky side on the indoor side of your windows.
Voila! You’ve now made your window shatter-resistant and a much longer and louder process for baddies to break into your windows.
Several different thicknesses of film are available on the market, with most manufacturers producing 4mm, 8mm, and 12mm thicknesses.
The thicker the film, the harder it is to break into your place.
7. Install a Security Strike
If you look at statistics, the great majority of home break-ins have nothing to do with the lock being picked.
They’re almost always caused by a door or window being kicked in, broken, or walked through.
On top of that, 85% of burglaries are performed by amateurs.
You’ve likely heard of people drilling two gigantic screws into the strike plate of their lock drilling into the adjacent stud. But all this does is drill into the door frame.
So, when someone kicks in your door, all they have to do is put enough force against the door to break out a half-inch of wood from the door frame.
If they can do that — which is easy — they can walk right into your house.
But there’s a better way to deal with door kicks…install security strikes.
For about $10, you can pick up a security strike. These measure larger than the stock model that came with your lock, and they offer four to six screw holes instead of two.
This means you can put four to six gigantic screws through your strike plate and into the door’s stud, making your door more difficult to kick in.
You need a chisel and a hammer to get this done, but it’s a job that can be accomplished in about 15 minutes.
With numerous gigantic screws, much more force is required, but the force can be absorbed over a wider surface area as well.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
8. Don’t Show Others Your Keys
Good grief, ya’ll. Please quit posting pictures of your keys to social media or just leaving them lying around where others can see them.
If you’ve just posted the keys to your new house on Facebook, you’ve just told the entire world what kind of locks you have on your doors, what kind of keyway they use, and the key cuts.
This is, in essence, like telling the entire world the password to your bank account.
“Here’s a location with my valuable assets inside! And here’s the key!”
Don’t do that.
Also, don’t leave your keys just lying about the place. A baddie can easily learn how to decipher house key cuts just by looking at them.
9. Use Door Bars
Let’s say you’re in a situation where you’re renting, and your landlord won’t let you install deadbolts to the house. Or you’re a single girl who’s finally moved out to her first place.
In the first situation, you’re looking for a means to further improve your door security while you’re in the house. In the second situation, you may be looking for a last resort method to further secure your bedroom door at night.
In either case, a door bar can be a great investment.
These typically come in around $20 and function in the same way that chairs wedged under doorknobs in cartoons do.
When wedged under the doorknob, prevent the door from being kicked open…well, without a significant amount of force.
At the very least, it will take a bad guy a very long time and a lot of noise to get in.
This gives you more time to call 911, grab a weapon, and consider your options.
10. Buy and Install Window Locks
Most newer windows come with a lock already installed, but every once in a while, I’ll find windows without locks.
While wedging a wooden dowel at the top of the window to keep it from opening works, I prefer something a bit more robust.
You can easily find window locks online that clamp into place, keeping your window from opening.
They also work as a great childproofing device while offering a cheap and effective means of protecting your home from intrusion.
11. Stick on Some Window Vibration Sensors
If you want everybody on your street to know when a bad guy throws a rock through your window, you want window vibration sensors.
These sticky little guys sit on the inside of your window in a discrete location (typically a corner) and give out a shrill alarm when they detect banging on the window.
If you’re away from home, the baddie may think he’s tripped an alarm. On the other hand, if you’re at home, you now have an early alert system to get you on your toes and ready for action.
Either way, it’s a win, and considering that these are relatively cheap online, there’s no reason not to consider them.
12. Install Motion Activated Lights
Baddies like working in the dark where there’s less risk of being discovered.
But installing motion-activated lights above the external doors creates more opportunities for bad guys to be caught.
Personally, I’m a fan of the LED solar-powered models.
These are self-contained units, so you don’t have to do any wiring yourself.
Just find a good place to screw the unit in, and you’re golden.
When something trips the sensor, a bright LED light will flood the area, scaring the baddie and giving you the ability to see what’s up should you be nearby.
A lot of DIY options exist that you can use to improve your home security. Remember that layers of security are always the best option when it comes to securing anything.
If you only have one obstacle keeping the baddie away from his prize, once he gets past that, you’re screwed. But numerous hurdles better ensure that the baddie can’t reach his goal.
While I don’t believe that you have to make your home a veritable Fort Knox to be safe, I do think there’s wisdom in doing what you can to improve your home security.
Are there other easy DIY home security fixes you recommend? Let us know in the comments below! Looking to add a firearm to your home defense plan? Check out our article on the Best Home Defense Gun.