Here's How: Tips and Upgrades to Make Doors and Windows More Secure
Dear James: There have been some break-ins in my neighborhood, so I want to improve security at home. I'm on a tight budget. What are some simple do-it-yourself security tips? -- Darrel K.
Dear Darrel: Almost every homeowner is on a tight budget these days, but there are still some things you can do to make your home more secure from break-ins. You might try contacting some security companies for a monitored alarm system. The monthly monitoring fees by some smaller local companies are reasonable, and they may install the system for free.
Even with an alarm system, making security improvements to windows and doors makes sense. Studies have shown that a burglar typically spends only 60 seconds trying to get inside a house. If it takes longer, he gives up and moves on. Your goal with simple improvements to windows and doors is to make it just a little more time-consuming to get inside.
Unlocked doors and windows are the first place someone will try to break in, so simply checking the locks whenever you leave the house or go to bed is wise. The quality of the doors and frames themselves is as important as the locks. Even if you have the best deadbolt lock on a cheap exterior door, a few stiff kicks may be enough to make a hole in the door.
Sliding glass patio doors are a common target for burglars. Once the lock is broken, the burglar can either slide them open or lift them off the track. Simply place a broomstick in the track so the door cannot be slid open. Drill a hole through both the sliding and fixed panels, and insert a pin in the hole. This makes it impossible to lift the panels out of their tracks.
For swinging entrance doors, install a rim lock or a surface-mounted deadbolt. Both are reasonable do-it-yourself projects. These can be either key- or spring-operated to activate the lock when the door is closed. A cylinder deadbolt is slightly more difficult to install, but it is more secure than a rim lock.
Burglars sometimes try to partially break through a door and then pull out the hinge pins. To stop this, remove opposing screws from one of the hinges. Drive a double-headed nail into one of the holes to hold the hinge in place. The end of the nail still sticking up fits into the opposing hole where the screw was removed.
Once your doors are secure, tackle the windows. There is only so much you can do with windows because burglars can always break the glass. They would prefer not to do this, though, because it makes noise when it breaks, and they generally do not want to take the time to first tape the glass. Just do the first-floor windows if your security budget is tight.
Sliding windows can be secured similarly to sliding glass patio doors. Double-hung windows generally have one or two locks between the sashes. Make sure the locks are totally closed so shaking cannot make them rattle open. Drilling a hole through the upper and lower sash frames and inserting a pin can make them difficult to get opened from outdoors. Always remove the crank handle from casement windows so they cannot be opened, even if the glass is broken.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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