Home Security Tips and Advice
We’d all prefer not to think about the dangers in our lives. But they’re there, whether we think of them or not: the looming threats to our belongings, ourselves, and the ones that we love.
Obsessing over the things that can hurt us is harmful in itself — we shouldn’t live our lives in a constant state of paranoia about our health or safety. But we also shouldn’t ignore the things that keep us healthy and safe. What we should do is live balanced lives: we should eat well, but enjoy what we eat; we should save carefully, but still spend on important things here and now. And when it comes to protecting the lives that we’ve built, we shouldn’t live in fear, but we should invest in security measures and use our common sense to protect the things that matter most.
Below, we’ll lay out what you should be doing to protect your home. We’ll cover the technologies and monitoring systems you should consider and the simple best practices that you should follow in your daily life. Nothing on our list is too expensive or too difficult to implement, and the powerful systems and simple habits you’ll find below will allow you to rest easy and enjoy your life to the fullest. Let’s get started.
Security Systems and Technology
Common sense will get you far in home security, but make no mistake: the most effective deterrents to home invasions and robberies are the technologies and systems available on the home security market. It doesn’t take much to get started, and you can consider the expense an investment in your safety and your peace of mind.
Get a home security system with 24/7 monitoring
You’ll find lots of different home security hardware on the market (and you’ll also find lots of relevant reviews for those products right here on Safehome.org). But regardless of which devices your system uses, there’s one feature that is universal among all effective home security systems: 24/7 monitoring.
When your system detects an intruder, you want something to be done about it. Monitoring services will contact the authorities right away to keep your possessions and your loved ones safe. The monthly fees charged for this service are well worth it; without monitoring, your security system doesn’t offer much security at all.
Buy a doorbell camera
Knock, knock — who’s there? If you don’t know, you could be in danger. Not all crooks show up when you’re out of town, and some will come right to your front door and then force their way in (or, worse yet, harm you) when you open up. A doorbell camera can monitor your front door and let you know who is ringing the bell before you open. Doorbell cameras are available as individual devices or, in many cases, as part of larger home security setups. These devices can also often play nice with your connected home setup (we’ll talk more about smart homes and connectivity later on).
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly
Keeping yourself safe at home is not just about foiling intruders, of course. Your living space faces all kinds of threats, and while no single threat is necessarily likely to strike, it’s important to protect yourself from all reasonably common dangers. That’s why you need a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.
These and other related functions can often be found in the same device, and many detectors can be integrated into your home security system or smart home setup. Whatever sort of detector and monitoring you go with, be sure to test your devices regularly — a smoke detector with dead batteries won’t help you and your family stay safe!
Buy home security cameras
A basic home security setup will monitor points of entry for attempted access. But it may be wise to beef up your system with additional hardware devices, especially given the power of today’s smart home security cameras.
Outdoor cameras will help you catch suspicious activity and will create records of any break-in attempt that could help investigators. Indoor cameras can help you monitor your indoor space, which is useful in situations as dire as break-ins or as typical as your family pet being alone for an hour.
Connect your security measures with smart home technology
Modern smart homes help us turn lights on and off, change the thermostat, and check in on the babysitter. They can be powerful tools in home security, too. Many modern security devices (including individual devices and full systems from popular security providers) can integrate with your smart home network, allowing you lock and unlock doors, monitor security cameras, and turn your system on and off from afar.
Buy a medical alert system
What would you do if you suffered a medical emergency while home alone? Particularly for seniors, the disabled, and those with serious illnesses, a medical alert system can be an important lifeline. Medical alert systems allow their users to call for help with the touch of a button on a base unit or wearable dongle, and some medical alert systems even work outside of the home. For more on the best medical alert systems, check out our coverage, rankings, and reviews right here on Safehome.org.
Best Practices and Smart Habits
The best way to protect your home and everything that is important to you is to invest in a home security system that combines powerful security devices with 24/7 monitoring. But even the best home security setup doesn’t exempt you from certain basic personal responsibilities. To really be protected, you’ll need to be smart about your own habits.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to act in a way that helps keep your space secure. Here are a few choices to make and good habits to cultivate.
Don’t advertise your vacation plans on social media
The next time you’re tempted to post photos of the stunning beaches or incredible sights that you saw on your vacation, consider making your Instagram post a “later-gram” post. While it’s tempting to share your experiences in real time, letting everyone know when you’re out of town is not a good idea. Worse still is advertising your vacation before it happens by posting about your upcoming plans.
You should be mindful of what you post, and also of who can see it. Keep your social media security settings tight, but still post as if everything you say and share is fully public. You never truly know who might see the photos and words that you share.
Keep your lights on when you’re out of the house
Crooks may be immoral, but they’re not stupid. Just like those of us in more honest lines of work, criminals would prefer to work smarter rather than to work harder. They want low-risk, high-reward opportunities. That’s why many would-be burglars will turn back if they spot signs that their target will make for a tough night on the job. A sign asserting that your home is protected by a security system can be a big discouragement. So can something as simple as leaving the lights on.
A house that stays dark for too long is an invitation to burglars. The crooks will realize you’re out of town, and they’ll have less reason to worry that their activities will be spotted. But if you leave some lights on inside and outside when you’re out of town — or, better yet, use your smart home system to turn lights on and off manually or on timers to simulate bustling activity in your space — burglars will view your home as a much less appealing target.
Stash your valuables somewhere safe
No matter how careful you are, there’s always going to be a possibility that a burglar breaks into your home. And if that ever happens, you’ll want your most valuable possessions to be as safe as possible.
Burglars aren’t interested in hanging out in your space until the police arrive. They’ll work fast, and they’ll look for high-value targets like jewelry boxes and medicine cabinets. That’s why it’s wise to keep your most valuable possessions hidden somewhere less expected — or locked within a safe that can’t be quickly broken into or easily carried off.
Hire a trusted house sitter when you’re out of town
As we mentioned above, burglars don’t generally want to meet you and your family — they’d rather sneak into your home uninvited while you’re gone. Leaving town for a few days gives burglars time to notice that you’re gone and to break into your space. But you can deter the crooks by making sure that your house isn’t always unoccupied while you’re gone. A house sitter can keep your space safer simply by being there.
Of course, this is a job for someone who you really trust. Nobody would have an easier time stealing your things while you’re out of town than your house sitter. Make sure that you choose a person who you can trust with your possessions (and who you can trust to do the little things, too, like take off their shoes before they track mud on the carpet).
Get a dog
Man’s best friend is also man’s best all-natural security system. Even the friendliest dogs know something is wrong when a strange person attempts to get into the house at night, and they may raise the alarm. A dog could give you and your family early warning when something out of the ordinary is happening, and dogs are also known to scare off many crooks (remember, burglars don’t like anything that makes their nasty job harder, and they don’t know how friendly Fido may or may not be).
Getting a dog is a bigger decision than many other home security choices, but if you are prepared to care for a new member of the family and think that you’d enjoy the other aspects of dog ownership, then getting a dog can be a great way to better protect your home.