Man the Battlements: How to Secure Your “Castle” in Not-So-Medieval Times

by Matt Solis


When it comes to maximizing home security, there are several aspects to consider. Photo: Quick Key (2015)

It’s often said that a person’s home is their castle, but try telling that to a burglar—not to mention the fact that our modern edifices lack the thick stone walls, turrets and drawbridges that secured those specimens of medieval architecture from intrusion. That’s why ensuring security in modern homes takes a lot more than a pot of boiling oil…or, more pertinent, a standard front door deadbolt. Read on to learn a few essential aspects of home protection.

Get a lock on things. While any exterior door should have a lock, simply having one isn’t enough. The reality is that most standard locks do little to deter burglars, who are able to circumvent subpar hardware by lock-picking or simply kicking in the door. That’s why it’s a good idea to upgrade your standard locks with a high-security product. Today’s sophisticated lock technology includes tamper-proof cylinders and keyways, high-grade steel that resists drilling attempts, and unique key cuts and styles that are difficult to forge.

Other critical hardware components on your doors may need to be updated as well. For example, a standard strike plate is really just a thin vanity plate attached by two short screws, which leaves a door susceptible to being kicked in. To avoid this, have yours reinforced with a thick steel plate fastened by three inch-long screws, which will firmly anchor it to the door jamb stud.

Sound the alarm. Quality door hardware is any home’s first line of defense, but there are other ways for burglars to gain access, such as breaking a window. For this reason, you should look beyond locks and consider a home security system. Equipped with surveillance cameras, alarms and other components, a home security system monitors and protects your home whether you’re present or away.

Security systems vary substantially in size and scope, from inexpensive do-it-yourself systems to professionally installed and monitored ones. While a basic system may be adequate, if it doesn’t effectively secure your property, it’s a waste of money. Your best bet is to consult a reputable security specialist who can assess your needs and advise on crucial aspects like installation locations and camera angles.

Shine a light. An easy way to deter burglars is to maximize visibility around your home and property. Keep adjoining trees and shrubs well-trimmed, with the aim of maintaining an unobstructed view of your home from the street. An even better option is to install motion sensor lights along your home’s perimeter. In addition to discouraging intruders, exterior lighting increases the function of surveillance cameras in identifying nocturnal trespassers.

Heed the minor details. While macro-measures like reinforcing door hardware are important, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impact. One proactive step is keeping your yard’s side gate locked, as burglars will often access a home by going around back and entering through the garage. Even if your gate isn’t very tall, a robber in search of an easy target is more likely to move on to an unlocked gate than try to jump a locked one.

Another commonly overlooked measure is keeping open lines of communication with your neighbors. Being intentional about watching out for each other will allow you to increase the security of your neighborhood as a whole.

Look toward the future. Technological innovation is making a big impact on the home security industry, with many homeowners trading traditional locks and keys for high-tech advancements like keypads and biometric locks. Whereas a conventional key can be lost, stolen or accidently locked inside, biometric information such as fingerprints isn’t subject to such mishaps. A keypad offers similar safety controls, with the added bonus of allowing the homeowner to change the code as desired.

As with alarm and surveillance camera installation, it’s best to work with a professional installer when upgrading to a cutting-edge lock system. Also, don’t let the bells and whistles make you forget the importance of good hardware—just because a lock is electronic doesn’t mean it’s any more secure than a traditional one.

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