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Enhancing Security Outside Your Home

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In this two-part series, we’ll explore practical ways to enhance safety and security in and around your home. This post focuses on exterior measures you can take to improve the overall security of your property.

Ensuring the safety and security of your home begins with taking proactive measures on the exterior. By addressing various elements outside your house, you can create a more secure environment and deter potential intruders. Here are some essential tips and strategies to enhance the exterior safety of your home.

Manage Your Mail and Newspapers

A full mailbox or a pile of newspapers in the driveway can signal to potential burglars that you are not home. To avoid this:

  • Bring Your Mail in Regularly: If you’re away, arrange for a trusted neighbor or a pet sitter to collect your mail. Alternatively, you can quickly and easily fill out a USPS hold mail request online.
  • Pick Up Newspapers: Ensure newspapers don’t accumulate in your driveway or yard. Again, ask a trusted neighbor or pet sitter to pick them up if you’re not around. Go ahead and have the delivery stopped if you find yourself seldom reading your paper anyway.

Handle Your Garbage Cans

Leaving garbage cans out for extended periods can indicate that you’re away. To avoid this:

  • Bring Garbage Cans Back Promptly: After collection, bring your garbage cans back up to your house. If you’re not home? That’s right. Ask a trusted neighbor or pet sitter to do it for you.

Maintain Your Lawn

An unkempt yard can also give the impression that no one is home. The solutions?

  • Keep Your Grass Cut: Regularly mow your lawn to maintain a neat appearance. If you’re away or too busy, hire a lawn care service to do it for you. It will make it seem that someone is home regularly and that you care for your place and your neighborhood.

Trim Your Hedges and Shrubs

It is a good idea to keep your hedges and shrubs trimmed and away from your house. Here’s why:

  • Reduce Hiding Places: Keeping greenery trimmed back reduces potential hiding spots for intruders, increasing your ability to spot suspicious activity.
  • Promote Air Circulation: A gap of at least one foot between your greenery and the house allows for better air circulation, reducing the risk of rot and allowing more sunlight to reach your home.
  • Facilitate Maintenance: Trimmed greenery makes it easier to perform maintenance work around your house.
  • Enhance Property Appearance: A well-maintained yard improves your property’s appearance and gives the impression that it is regularly occupied and cared for.
  • Defense: Consider planting thorny or prickly types of shrubs and bushes around your house to deter would-be bad guys from looking in your windows or hiding out.

Got Locks? Use Them!

Securing the main entry points to your home and properties are critical for tighter security. Here are a fews pointers to follow:

  • Doors: Lock your doors. Yes, lock your doors even when you are home. It takes 2 extra seconds to let yourself out. If you opt not to use them, door locks do no good. Imagine one of those perfectly good strangers just walking right on in on you. Not fun.

    Have pets? Live out in the sticks? Keep your doors shut and locked anyway. Do not leave home with your doors unlocked much less left open. Your pets can wait and if not, lean on those trusted neighbors and pet sitters. Do not leave an open invitation for those who might like to get into your place.
  • Windows: Yep. You guessed it. Lock them. It may have been a while since you have last opened a window in your house, so go around and ensure they are all locked. You definitely want to ensure they are closed and locked anytime you are not going to be home.
  • Vehicles: What? You think because you are home and your vehicles are parked in your driveway, it is OK if you leave them unlocked? Nope. No way. Lock them too. A good number of vehicle ‘break-ins’ are not in fact break-ins, as the bad guys did not have to do anything but open the doors. Lock those doors, people!
  • Separate Buildings: Have a separate garage or a shed? Yes. Keep those locked as well. A little bit of prevention goes a very long way in keeping you and your property safer.

Enhance Exterior Lighting

Proper lighting around your home can deter intruders and improve your safety. Consider these options:

  • Flood Lights: Install motion-activated and/or heat sensing flood lights. These will turn on when movement is detected, startling potential intruders while also conserving energy.
  • Doorway Lights: Keep your doorways well-lit to make it easier for you to see and deter anyone from approaching unnoticed. Bad guys generally do not like lights.
  • Landscaping Lights: While often used for aesthetics, landscaping lights also help keep your yard illuminated, making it less appealing to intruders, as it makes it harder for them to hide.
  • Dark Spaces: Do you have any generally dark areas around your home, near windows or doors, that you feel it would be nice to illuminate? Consider options and get rid of any dark spaces that may make you less than comfortable.
  • Smart Bulbs: Consider smart bulbs and similar to give you more control over your lighting both when home and while away.
  • LED Bulbs: LED bulbs are a superior choice as they can be super bright, allow for brightness adjustment, and save on energy. When it comes to outdoor lighting, consider the bright white options and not the warmer, cozier, lower brightness levels. Light that property up!
  • Street Lights: If you live in a particularly dark area, contact your city or county to request the installation of a street light near your property to help in addition to the lighting you are putting up on and around your house.

Proper lighting in key areas like doorways, driveways, and back decks is great deterrent.

Use Security Cameras

Security cameras can serve as both a deterrent and a helpful tool in case of an incident. Here’s why they’re valuable:

  • Deterrence: Some argue cameras do little to deter crime. I think this is probably true in public spaces. I still think visible cameras can discourage potential intruders from targeting your home. Again, if they want something bad enough and they know you likely have it, nothing is going to be 100% effective in preventing them for carrying out their intentions. All we can do is make it as difficult and uncomfortable for the bad guys as possible.
  • Monitoring: Cameras allow you to monitor your property in real-time and review footage if necessary. I find this most useful. I get to see who may have activated my camera’s recording; and they allow me to see when my packages have arrived. These 2 points along make them worthwhile.
  • Evidence: In the event of a crime, camera footage can provide valuable evidence for law enforcement. You just need to make sure you have cameras at key places, like at your doors, and that you have a high definition picture to better ensure being able to make out important things like faces.

You can find video after video of crimes, even extremely violent crimes, caught on security camera footage all over the internet, which would maybe lead one to believe they are not that useful. However, I think, like most things, it is contextual.

At home they may work as a better deterrent than somewhere in public due to the nature of the crime. With some exception, crimes around the home are likely more property driven whereas in public crimes can have more of a human element involving victim(s). The difference being the emotions involved.

If you’re pumped up going after a person, you are likely to have tunnel vision on what is happening and not care about anything else around you. Emotions run high. Whereas with property, it is likely more planning has happened and security measures have been taken into account. A home with a camera is likely preferred less over a home without. Again context and it depends on the type of crime.

Plus, I contend cameras in public have become so numerous and well integrated that people do not even think about them much anymore.

While nothing is 100%, I like cameras for the home as I think they are an extra layer of protection. I can see who is at my door, look over my property in general, and see when my package delivery guy or gal dropkicks my packages to my front door. Plus, if something bad were to happen, I may just have it recorded.

Conclusion

While no single measure can guarantee complete security, combining these strategies can significantly enhance the safety of your home’s exterior. Think about them in terms of creating layers to dissuade those who have mal intent. Regularly maintain your yard, manage your mail and garbage, lock your doors and windows, put up lighting, and consider installing cameras. These steps will make your home less appealing to potential intruders and help protect you and your loved ones. Remember, being proactive and vigilant is key to maintaining a secure and safe home environment.

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Enhancing Security Inside Your Home

This is the second post in our series on making your home safer. We covered making the exterior of your home more secure in our …

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