4 Considerations For Securing Your Home

If you've just moved into an unfamiliar neighborhood, you keep valuables in your home, or you just want to know you and your loved ones are safe from the bad guys, home security is probably very much on your mind right now. Here are four considerations to help you make the right choices for your situation and needs.

1. Investing in an Alarm System (and Using it Properly)

One of the most empowering steps you can take for your residential security is installing a home alarm system from a reputable supplier. There are a variety of options in security alarm equipment and services to choose from, so choose the one that best suits your needs and budget. If you're a renter instead of a homeowner, for example, you should probably go for wireless, portable security alarm equipment that you can take with you to your future residence without tearing up your current one. If your residence stands empty most of the time, you may want to connect the alarm to an off-site monitoring service. This service notifies the fire department and/or police when a break-in or emergency is detected.

No matter what kind of residential security system you invest in, however, you won't get your money's worth if you don't use that system correctly. Always take the extra time and effort to activate the system every time you leave your home, for instance. This sounds intuitively obvious, but an astonishing 43 percent of busy alarm owners skip this essential step from time to time. 

2. Determining Who Gets Access

Securing your home means limiting access, and that means limiting the number of individuals who know the secrets of your home's various security provisions. The first consideration you need to make is who has keys to your residence. In addition to your fellow occupants, family members and trusted friends, are there other individuals who might have an old copy of your front door key, such as a former friend, colleague or romantic partner? If you suspect that there are spare keys to your residence floating around out there somewhere, change the locks and issue new keys only to those who truly need them.

Don't forget that your residential security system can provide access to anyone who knows how to deactivate it. Have you given the password information out to someone you used to confide in -- someone who's no longer on good terms with you or has otherwise dropped out of your life? If so, then changing your alarm system password might be a smart move. Just make sure you distribute the updated information to everyone who may need it, otherwise you may have quite a few false alarms on your hands.

3. Doing your Own Remote Video Monitoring (Maybe)

Some residential alarm systems give you the option of monitoring your home remotely from any Internet connection. Cameras and microphones can relay data to a website interface viewable on any Internet-equipped computer or mobile device. This feature lets you keep an eye and ear on the goings-on inside your home, including the presence of burglars or other unwelcome guests as well as fires, injuries or other emergencies.

But as reassuring as remote video access might prove to some homeowners, it doesn't necessarily makes sense for everyone. If your alarm system is monitored by a professional service, for instance, tripping the alarm will alert the authorities sooner than you yourself could. If you don't spend hours each day in front of a computer or other such device, then you probably won't witness an incident even if it does occur. But it may still be worth having video cameras set up to record the action at all times, because this video can be used as evidence in court.

4. Getting the Neighborhood Involved

Automated alarm systems do a great job of alerting the police once a break-in is in progress, but apart from the warning decals you stick on your windows, they can't do much to prevent a crime or alert you about suspicious activity on your block. For this extra level of security, you need to get the community involved. A neighborhood watch can be extremely useful for making sure you and other residents on your street are alerted to strangers hanging around their homes, unfamiliar vans parked in the area and so forth.

A neighborhood watch can promote safety and security in many different ways. Retired or housebound neighbors can take the role of "watchers," contacting their neighbors and/or the police when they see a potential problem. Designated parents can educate the neighborhood's children on safety practices and make sure they get home from school without incident. Periodic neighborhood meetings can help you devise new strategies for keeping your homes secure.

Planning carefully, investing wisely, and making home security everybody's business can help you sleep more easily, knowing that you're doing your part to protect your loved ones and possessions. So take care -- and stay secure!