Ah, summer vacation… Who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of getting away from it all and exploring the rest of Quebec, Canada or even the world? However, returning home only to discover that you were the victim of a break-in or theft while you were away can bring a quick end to the joys of vacation. It only takes a few seconds for a burglar to gain access to your home. Doors and windows are the usual targets: all it takes is a crowbar or screwdriver and one person with bad intentions. If you are looking to secure all entry points into your house, the main objective is to place more barriers to slow a person down: when breaking in, time is of the essence, and a door or window that is difficult to open can be enough to dissuade a would-be intruder. The following are some tips for securing your doors and windows before you head off on vacation.
Since this is the main entrance to your house, it goes without saying that your front door should have a solid, high-quality lock. A few simple measures to further enhance security will offer even greater peace of mind. First, when purchasing a new home, it’s important to change the locks on all exterior doors into the dwelling. This ensures that there are no duplicate keys out there that can be used to enter your home.
Next, consider replacing the strike plate for the door with one that is thicker or made of a more robust material such as steel. It’s generally the strike plate that gives way under the impact when intruders are trying to break in through a door, making it possible for them to enter without having to unblock or pick the lock. Available from any hardware store or locksmith, the strike plate plays a key role in protecting the integrity of your door. How many screws were used to secure your existing strike plate? If only two, consider replacing it with one that is attached using four screws. Using longer screws to attach the plate to the door frame will go further in securing the door, since longer screws are fixed to structural elements rather than simply the framing materials, making the plate more resistant to forced entry.
Reinforcement locks can also be purchased at any hardware store to resist even greater force. These locks are specially designed to prevent opening a door from the outside, providing more protection from break-ins.
To make your home even more secure, specialized companies offer security grilles for residential doors. Various models are available to match your exterior decor.
When looking at securing entry points into your home, it’s important not to focus your efforts entirely on the front of your house; don’t forget to secure the patio door as well. A range of devices are available for this purpose, for example, a security bar to prevent a sliding door from being opened from the outside. A customized security bar can even be purchased at the same time as the patio door. If your patio door doesn’t have one, big-box home supply stores usually offer adjustable models. For a temporary, cost-effective solution, you can also trim a broomstick (or even a piece of wood) to size and position it on the track to block the door’s sliding mechanism.
Security bar used to secure a patio door
If you want to make it even more difficult to open your patio door, consider adding a foot lock. In addition to blocking the sliding action, this device makes it impossible to lift a door off of its track. Once again, foot locks can be purchased either at the same time as your patio door or at any hardware store.
Foot lock for enhanced protection
These simple enhancements make your doors harder to open and, as a result, less interesting targets for would-be intruders.
Once you’re satisfied with the security improvements you’ve made to your doors, it’s time to look at securing your windows with a focus on the ones accessible from ground level. The quality of the window glazing plays an essential role in security, since a broken window provides quick access; according to some experts, intruders can enter via some types of windows in less than 30 seconds. Double or triple-glazed windows are harder to break, since the impact must pass through two or three panes to make entry possible.
The ultimate in impenetrability is laminated glass. This type of glass is similar to that used in windshields, meaning that the glass holds together even when broken under impact. Made by combining glass sheets with a layer of plastic film, it is very difficult to break through during attempted forced entry.
Another option is wired glass, or glass embedded with wire mesh during production. Wired glass is an excellent deterrent in that it is visible, thereby discouraging any attempt at breaking in. That said, even if an intruder insists on breaking the glass, they then have to find a way through the wire mesh to gain access to your residence.
One sound solution for basement windows is to add window bars for extra peace of mind. If you do, it’s important to ensure that they can be opened quickly from inside for egress in the event of a fire. Fixed interior or exterior window bars are now prohibited for that reason. Widely used in previous decades, window bars have since declined in popularity and are now seen more rarely, although their effectiveness cannot be disputed.
For sliding windows, security bars are a more esthetically appealing option. Adjustable bars similar to those used for patio doors can be purchased at hardware and big-box stores to secure the sliding windows often used in basements. They are also designed to be removed in moments from the inside in case of a fire. When positioned on the window track, a security bar makes it impossible to open a sliding window.
Window locks are also available at hardware stores for use on sliding windows. These small devices are easily installed to prevent a window from sliding on its track. They can also be used to secure a window that has been left open a crack to allow air to continue circulating while you’re away from home briefly: although the window is not closed, it also can’t be opened any further.
Before leaving your home, take a few moments to check all doors and windows to ensure they’re properly closed—it’s all too easy to overlook one! No matter how much you spend on hardware to secure your doors and windows, an open window or unlocked door remains an open invitation for a potential intruder.
There are countless ways to protect your home while you’re on vacation. For example, you can have an alarm system installed, and many systems can now be monitored via your smartphone, providing access to the system cameras or allowing you to turn lights on or off remotely. You may also want to arrange for a neighbour to collect your mail and newspapers or for a friend or family member to house-sit. One small but important tip: avoid sharing vacation pics on social media while you’re away! They will still get plenty of likes after you’ve returned home.