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Securing Your Home Against Forced Entry :: Designing for Security at Doors and Windows

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Creating a secure home is a matter of design philosophy, construction technique and the habits of the occupants. While it is possible to design and build a home that is extremely secure, it can be difficult to remodel a high degree of security into a home. Luckily, there are some basic steps you can take in securing your home. They make it very difficult for an intruder to gain access to your home quickly.

Points of Entry

– Doors

As most people who have criminal justice degree will tell you, doors are the principle points of entry to a home. As such, there are many ways for burglars to get past simple locks. For instance, robbers utilize doorjamb spreaders and bump-keys to force their way past the front door and into your home. The solution is to replace existing doors with security doors.

Mul-T-Lock type doors are the best choice. These doors use a special keyed security lock that cannot be picked, or defeated with bump-keys. Similarly, when locked, the bolts secure the door at the top, bottom and sides, which defeats the use of a doorjamb spreader. A properly mounted door of this type will offer significant resistance and require a great deal of effort and noise to gain entry. Sadly this method cannot be applied to sliding glass patio doors, making them still a security hazard. The only way to effectively secure such a door is to install a sliding or roll-down steel security shutter.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Lock Bumping, see Barry Morgan’s article on the same topic – Lock Bumping.

– Windows

Windows are another point of weakness in most homes. Unfortunately, security bars are the only cost-effective method of securing ground-floor windows. However it is important to remember that the bars are most valuable if installed from the inside. First of all, bars installed on the inside of the window require that the window be broken in order to access the bars, providing warning of forced entry. Secondly, bars installed on the inside can be removable to allow escape from fire or ease of cleaning and maintenance. Finally, visible exterior security bars lower the value of the home, give the appearance of “something worth stealing” and possibly violate building codes or community covenants.

After securing the points of entry in your home, you should install a security camera and communication system that allows you to observe and speak to visitors without opening the door. A secure entryway is useless if you have to open the door to anyone who knocks. It might also be to your advantage to have a dog. Alarm systems are only as effective as their frequency of use. Dogs, regardless of their size, who bark at strangers offer far more deterrent.

Design Considerations

When designing your home, it is a good idea to locate all bedrooms on the second floor. This way if the home suffers a nighttime invasion, the occupants should have sufficient warning to arm themselves and call for help. This method is extremely effective, but creates problems for anyone who has trouble climbing stairs. In a single-level home, locate all bedrooms off a hallway that opens to the rest of the house via a single entry point, hardened with a steel security door possibly.

Securing a home is more a matter of making it very difficult for intruders to quickly gain entry than preventing entry altogether. As such, the focus must be on securing doors and windows. However, just as alarms are only as effective as their frequency of use, so are locks. Regardless of the measures taken to secure a home, the very first step is habitually keep the exterior doors locked at all times.

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Start with a Dead Bolt. All exterior doors should have one. Learn more, here. For more on the latest in connected home security, our article – Connected Smart Home Security. Cheers. ~jb

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