When it’s hot, is it actually OK to leave windows and doors wide open, or are we making ourselves a target?
Keeping our homes safe – especially during holiday season – is something we all worry about. And when it’s hot, is it actually OK to leave windows and doors wide open, or are we making ourselves a target?
From smart home alarm systems to properly securing windows and doors, or even using strategic landscaping, Victoria Harrison, editor of home renovation and design platform Houzz, shares some helpful tips to keep your home safe…
1. Make the most of your tech
Consumer technology is smarter than ever, and Harrison says there are several solutions available to help you deter burglars – and keep an eye on your home from afar.
From outdoor security cameras and lighting, to alarms and detectors among the most frequently purchased technology upgrades, tech is definitely worth investing in.
“Technology is an obvious starting point when it comes to securing your home – and innovations in home security systems mean consumers now have access to wireless and modular options at more affordable prices,” notes Harrison.
She says doorbell cameras are proving to be a popular choice, purchased by one in 10 renovating homeowners, so you can see who’s approaching your home from wherever you are in the world. Smart systems enabling you to switch lights on and off from a far a good idea too.
2. The right landscaping can be a secret weapon
“Burglars will look for cover, and your landscaping can sometimes unintentionally provide this,” she warns.
“Any large hedges and shrubbery around entry points provide criminals with the opportunity they need to break in.”
To avoid this, Harrison suggests trimming all hedges to a metre or shorter, removing potential hiding places and increasing visibility for neighbours and pedestrians, who can help spot any suspicious activity.
“Garden designers also recommend using gravel around windows, as the loud crunch can be enough of a deterrent to would-be burglars.” She continues. “Planting low, sharp and spiky bushes can also help.”
3. Install security lighting
Harrison says it’s the top security purchase among renovating homeowners – and for good reason.
Available in a variety of styles to fit with the aesthetic of your home, she says motion-activated lights can spook potential trespassers, and also help to highlight passers-by to any suspicious activity. Plus, they are relatively cost-effective and quick to install.
4. Secure your windows
Harrison points out: “Windows are a popular entry point for burglars, so it pays to secure them. Most windows will have some sort of latch that can be easily opened if someone is willing to break the glass and reach inside, so ensure all windows are fitted with a robust locking mechanism.
You may want to think about your window coverings, too. She says many homeowners opt to close curtains or blinds to discourage potential burglars from seeing in – but this can be a giveaway the home is empty.
“Instead, designers advise using sheer curtains in light linen – this helps to block the view, and also looks great year-round.”
5. Install a fence
Another access point to consider is the garden, suggests Harrison. Especially if you back onto any pathways or access roads, which might offer potential burglars a less overlooked route in.
“It’s worth noting that without planning permission, any fencing that’s next to a road should be no more than one metre high,” says Harrison. With all other fencing, it’s a maximum of two metres.”
“Landscape designers suggest opting for wooden fences with close boarding, as this doesn’t offer footholds for intruders,” she adds.
And to further dissuade potential burglars, she says to top with lightweight trellis and grow prickly plants, such as a thorny but beautiful climbing rose.
6. The stronger the door, the better
The majority of break-ins are through a front or back door, so it may be worth considering upgrading an old door for a more secure option, advises Harrison.
“If you are replacing a door, you will want to look out for one that’s equipped with a multipoint locking system, heavy-duty hinges and a high-quality cylinder,” she notes.
“Cylinders can often be points of weakness, so professionals recommend looking out for the star rating system: 3-star rated locks will be the most robust option.
“And don’t forget to do a thorough check before leaving,” she says. “To ensure all doors are safely secured and locked!”
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