By Mike Cranfield, Cranfields Property Ltd.
Home security is a necessity for all here in Bermuda whether we are Landlords, Tenants or Home Owners and it involves the hardware and any systems we have in place on the property, as well as our personal security practices.
The hardware and systems encompass things like the doors and windows, locks, alarm systems, lighting, motion detectors and camera systems that are installed on your property.
Our personal security practices encompass what we do to make all the expensive hardware and systems work for us.
Doors & windows, are our doors & windows robust and in good working order, do they open and close properly? Do our sliding doors really lock? Are the windows we leave open for air etc. in places that are NOT easily accessible from the outside?
Check the locks, hinges and closures on your doors and windows – if they are not working correctly – fix them!! A little maintenance in this area can really pay off in the long run – a little oil on hinges and window locks can keep them in great shape for much longer than you think and also prevent those expensive surprises!
Locks & keys, are the locks we have installed appropriate to what is being secured? Do we have keys for them? Do we know where all our keys are? Are the locks working? A broken lock or missing keys are open invitations to burglars.
Do you keep all your keys in a single place at home – it is good practice to keep your spare keys in another location to where you hang the keys you use day to day. If you have a bunch or stash of keys, that you have no idea what door or window they are used for then test them around the house and throw the odd old ones out they will only confuse you in an emergency. Make sure all your keys are properly identifiable. i.e. you know which lock they are for either by their look shape or the location you store them in. Whilst not always avoidable it is NOT a good idea to label the keys you carry with you with anything that will identify them to someone undesirable should you lose them.
Lighting, do we need to light our driveway and entrance areas? Should we light areas inside and outside the house at night? Are our lights in working order? Did you replace the light that blew out last year in the storm?
It is possible to light your house in a secure manner quite cheaply with small flood lamps that come on, either at dusk or are motion sensitive – I prefer the ‘dusk to dawn’ feature available now and I use all LED bulbs on these as they can provide good light and can burn all night for a few pennies as opposed to the $$$ the older halogens and incandescent flood lights used to. Some of these are now also available in solar powered models which you can just hang on the wall or stake out in the garden.
Around our house we use quite a few small night lights in our bathrooms, hallway and stair areas, these just come on automatically as it gets dark, and enable you enough light if you get out of bed at 3am to walk around confidently and not disturb anyone else by turning on the overhead lights just to go to the loo!!
Alarm Systems, each owner of a system has a different idea of what works best for them. However, most systems are installed to automatically detect, alarm and report unauthorised access to your property.
The systems that incorporate motion detectors, door opening and window opening or breakage are expensive and best left to the experts to install and monitor. This is expensive, not only to setup but also the monthly monitoring fees and maintenance.
However, at the moment there is a large increase in the availability of home monitoring systems – from some basic single/double door monitoring up to some very sophisticated home monitoring setups that communicate with your cell phone over the internet and the data services and via which you can play an active role in the security of your dwelling. These applications and 3rd party services will let you view your property and house interior from anywhere in the world – they will also let you to switch lights, TVs, air-conditioning, dehumidifiers etc. etc. on and off at will also from anywhere on your travels!! This is a deterrent to burglars as even if you are away from home your property can look like you are at home enjoying TV and music with lights going on and off randomly!! The latest systems available even let you answer your door bell and see who is at the door and speak to them via your cell phone – again from anywhere in the world!
Now the most important bit!
Remember to perform your Personal Security Practices BEFORE you leave your home for any period of time…
- Do LOCK all your doors – the best locks in the world are just hardware, when unlocked…
- Do CLOSE all windows – remember, an open window is just a door…
- Switch on LIGHTS around the house even if you are at home – this is a good practice…
- If you have installed an alarm system of any kind – ARM it before you go out…
- Keep your KEYS secure – and replace locks when you lose a key…
- Don’t tell the world via FACEBOOK TWITTER that you are going or that you are on HOLIDAY…
- Keep your outside belongings safe – LOCK your bike, LOCK your car, don’t leave garden implements lying around – these are all excellent tools to get through a locked door or window.
BE Aware and Be SAFE!