All too often, home security is not thought about until a burglar breaks in and makes off with the family silver or other precious possessions, yet in many cases this could have been prevented by a little forethought. So it makes sense to think about security along with all the other ‘essentials’ when planning your home.
Have adequate locks on all doors and windows — an average 7-roomcd house can be made reasonably secure with standard mortice locks on front and back door, two door chains, internal door bolts for the downstairs doors and window and fanlight bolts or locks. If you have a door with a glass panel, or there is a window near it, or the door itself is flimsy, fit a ‘deadlock’ or a mortice locking latch which conforms to BSI 3621. If a downstairs window or fanlight is shielded from the view of passers-by fit bars or grilles to the inside. Louvrcd glass windows are particularly vulnerable because, although most types lock, it is very easy to cut out one louvre, unlock the window and take out the rest.
Always close the windows and lock up when you leave the house, even if you are only going out for a few minutes – many domestic break-ins take place in a few seconds in the afternoon when children are being collected from school and there is a convenient unlocked door or window.
If you go away for a few days, cancel the milk and papers, and try to have a friend or neighbour to go in and pick up the post, put on lights, draw curtains etc. Alternatively, fix some of your lights, or a radio/ television set to a time switch, so they automatically switch on and off. Take any valuables such as jewellery with you or deposit them in the bank; hide other precious things in as safe a place as possible. Anything which makes a quick grab and getaway difficult will deter a thief, and save your belongings.
Never leave the front door key on a string inside the letterbox, or under the mat, flower pot or a stone — make sure all the members of the family who need a key have one, and don’t tie a label with the address on it to a key, just in case it gets lost. Don’t leave notes pinned to doors or popped into milk bottles saying you are out or away.
Don’t leave spare money lying about, or in a tin or jar on the mantlepiece. If you must have substantial amounts of money in the house, fit a sate.
After dark do be on your guard – ‘Think through’ your house, imagining yon are a burglar! Then protect ail vulnerable points of entry with the appropriate locks, bolts and window catches particularly if you live alone. Put a chain on the door and don’t open it to anybody you don’t know. Better still, fit a spyhole in the front door so you can view would-be callers. And when you sit down to watch television in the evening, remember to lock back doors and close easy-to-climb-in windows – many a break-in occurs while the family are settled down to an evening’s viewing. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, and have long ladders stored in shed or garage, make sure they are padlocked at all times when not in use. Also lock bicycles with a chain and padlock or security lock, and train children to do likewise. Bicycles should always be locked away in shed or garage at night.
If you want to make it really difficult, then you can fit an alarm system. This can be professionally installed by a security firm , or there are several very good do-it-yourself systems on the market. However, it is wise to have a professional view on how to protect your home with an alarm system, even if you intend to install it yourself. Contact the crime prevention officer at your local police station, who will gladly come and give you advice. You will also find that your Insurance company is happy to give advice — the British Insurance Association issue literature on security as well.
If you have a system, make sure the alarm bell can be seen by any would-be burglars – with luck this will deter them from trying to break in and they will go elsewhere! And don’t forget to turn the system on when you go out – even if you are popping down the road. Most insurance companies won’t pay up on goods stolen if you have an alarm system and it was not switched on when the burglar broke in.
NOTE: apart from various BSI standards for locks and bolts, the Design Centre have approved safety and security devices and fire extinguishers on file at their Design Index in London, Cardiff and Glasgow. 5 3