A wallet friendly look at what we can all do to better secure our homes.
When we think of home security we immediately think of locks and keys. Properly installed locks should be the first step in securing most anything, but there is a lot more to security than locks alone. Making something secure can involve anything from lights to trimming your hedges. Here is a list of ideas to make your home more secure when you already have your doors locked.
- Shatter resistant window films. Very cheap and effective.
- Don’t keep ladders outside the home. Ladders can let burglars into less guarded second story windows.
- A barking dog can deter criminals. Noise draws attention and that’s exactly what burglars don’t want.
- Trim back large bushes growing next to your home. This allows criminals to hide for extended periods of time with less chance of being spotted.
- When you park your car in your garage at night, make sure it’s locked and the alarm is set.
- Remove the release cord on your electric garage door opener. By disengaging the opener the door can be lifted by hand, which is what you don’t want them doing.
- Planting thorny shrubs or rosebushes outside of your home can deter criminals.
- Placing alarm-company signs, neighborhood-watch stickers, or ‘beware of dog’ notices can deter crime, but will only really help you if you have the real deal to back it up.
- Keep all points of entry to your home well-lit. Consider installing motion-sensor lights on the rear and sides of your home and position them in out-of-reach places.
- Mark your expensive electronics with an ID code. This can be done with invisible ink or an engraver. If your goods get stolen the police can ID your goods faster.
Anything that makes a criminal think twice about robbing you adds to the overall security of your home and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. These security measures won’t stop all criminals but when combined with your layered security system can severely reduce crime.
We’ve met all kinds of people from all walks of life, but one thing we have in common: We hate being locked out!
Lockouts are annoying, expensive, unplanned and always happen at the most un-opportune time. Nobody wakes up expecting to be locked out of their car with it running right when you need to get to work. And since they’re un-planned they’re hard to budget for and tend to make your weeks finances a little tight.
The average cost of a lockout will vary depending on your location and what time of day it is, but for simplicity’s sake let’s assume the average lockout price is $50. Before shelling out the money you typically have to wait for the locksmith to arrive, so let’s assume the average waiting time is 25 minutes. That’s almost half an hour out of your day waiting to get into something it normally takes you under a minute to do, AND now it costs you money! Did you know that $50 and 25 minutes could’ve been avoided for as little as around $3, IF you plan ahead?
House Lockouts: You can hide keys outside your home in several ways and some are more secure than others. They way we would recommend securing a key outside your home is a lock key storage container. These can mount directly to your home or even hang from your door knob. The costs of these products can vary by brand but expect to pay around $30-$40 for a good one.
Car Lockouts: Most any car on the market today, even the computer chip key versions have an option for a key that will get you inside your car for a cheaper price. Most “lockout keys” are around$3 for a standard plain metal key- though some may be more. Some of the more popular methods of securing a key to your car are those magnetic key boxes or a Velcro key pouch. These two methods are not without problems however. The magnets don’t adhere well to allow metals and can bounce off with the first sizeable pothole in the road and the adhesive on the Velcro pouches can give way leaving your lockout key in the middle of the street.
How can you secure a key outside your car that won’t fall off?
How about behind the license plate? We have a punch that will poke a hole just large enough to fit your license plate screw. Screwing the key behind the license plate allows you to get in your vehicle by removing the screw with a coin.
One thing to remember about using a lockout key is that you need to put the key back in the spot, or the next time you will be left high and dry. Planning ahead can save you hundreds, prevent future lockouts and will pay for itself several times over with the first use. Now that’s an investment that will pay dividends.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that one lock is as secure as the next. And coming from the standpoint of the consumer, it may look like the only real choices fall into the categories of color, brand and style. The appearance will be a factor but the primary focus of any lock purchase should be: will this protect me, my family and our property? And in that respect some locks don’t cut it. Does it really make since to try to protect your $150,000+ house with a $10 lock?
ANSI (American National Standards Institute)and BHMA (Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association) are two companies that regulate and test lock hardware to verify that the manufactures can live up to their claims with regard to strength and usage (cycle) promises. The companies issue 3 Grade levels: Grade 1 (Heavy Commercial), Grade 2 (Light Commercial/ Heavy Residential) and Grade 3 (Light residential.) The cycle requirements for the Grade 3 status is 200,000, which means it should withstand 200,000 cycles before failure. The Grade 2 requirement is 400,000 cycles and the Grade 1 requirement is 800,000.
Along with the cycle standard there is also a strength standard. The strength standard regulates how much pressure or force the lock is designed to withstand during use before failure. The Grade 3 requirement for a door knob is 120 lbs of force and for a lever set 180 lbs. The Grade 2 knob is 150 lbs and the lever set is 225 lbs. And the Grade 1 knob is 300 lbs and lever set 450 lbs. The strength standards are designed to provide minimum levels of durability to guard against rough usage and vandalism.
Most of the locks sold at hardware stores are of the Grade 3 variety designed for residential use, quite often in a construction version with a part-plastic latch. So even within the Grade rating there is a variance between one Grade 3 and the next. For instance: A lock that’s made out of pot metal could meet the minimum strength and cycle standards. But who wants a lock that fails on the finish line when for a little more you get a Grade 3 lock made out of higher quality metal that can meet and exceed the minimum standards; and look good doing it?
Many locksmiths carry the higher quality locks that will better secure your home or business, and yes they tend to cost a little more. The question isn’t: “Can I afford better locks?” the question should be: “Can I afford not to have them?”