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Home Security Checklist: All You Need To Protect Your Home

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
A woman updating her security system and following a home security checklist.
Do you know how vulnerable your home is to break-ins and theft? Check out this comprehensive guide on safeguarding your property and gaining peace of mind.

With my 20+ years of experience in the home security industry, I've seen firsthand the seriousness of home burglaries, with over 1.7 million households experiencing property crimes in 2020.

I recommend creating a home security checklist covering your property's exterior and interior. I'll guide you through specific methods to reinforce entry points and mention how providers like Frontpoint Security can help you create robust protection even when you're on holiday.

» Learn how to choose the best home security system.

Exterior Home Security

The exterior areas of your home serve as the first line of defense against intruders. Taking steps to secure the perimeter creates an initial barrier and visible deterrent. Here's what you can do:

Install Motion-Activated Security Lights

Strategically place motion-sensor lights, like those from Link Interactive, around the exterior of your home to illuminate potential entry points and deter unwanted visitors. Position it to shine on side yards, driveways, doorways, and other vulnerable spots.

Check that the sensors can pick up motion far enough to cover all areas. Make sure they can be set so they don't get triggered by accident. Also, ensure that they're tough enough for outdoor use. See if they need wires for power or can work wirelessly with solar panels.

Have a plan to reach and communicate with family members in case of emergency or a break-in when at home.

Install Outdoor Security Cameras

Choosing a reliable, weather-resistant camera is crucial for outdoor security. The Eufy camera from Cove features a durable, weatherproof design with a solar panel that works continuously without recharging.

This model offers motion alerts, allowing you to monitor real-time video feeds on your phone and zoom in on outdoor activities. It's best to opt for outdoor cameras with infrared night vision and a broad field of view to capture clear footage even in low-light conditions and monitor a wide area.

Cove Cove Protect Your Home

Trim Bushes and Trees

Trim any bushes and trees near doors and windows so there's good visibility from the street. Overgrown plants give burglars a place to hide as they watch your home. Neatly kept landscaping makes your home less tempting for break-ins.

Display Alarm System and Surveillance Signage

Put up signs for ADT or other security systems, even if you don't have one. Research shows that 83% of burglars look for alarms before attempting a break-in. Surveillance signs make them think your home is too risky to break into.

ADT ADT Visit Site

Consider a Security Gate

If you live in a state with a high burglary rate, you might want to install security gates or fences around your property to establish a physical barrier against intruders on foot. Ensure these gates are high enough and access points have sturdy locks.

Install a Driveway Alarm

Driveway alarms can detect vehicles entering your property, alerting you to visitors or intruders. These alarms have long-range capabilities (up to 1,500 feet) to work through trees and other objects.

You can customize the sensor settings to avoid false alerts from things like small animals. They have solar-powered or battery-operated options ranging from $25-$250.

» Explore the difference between wired vs. wireless home security systems.

Window and Door Security

Securing your home's windows and doors can drastically reduce your risk of a break-in, as they're common entry points for burglars. You can try these methods:

Install a Video Doorbell

Installing a video doorbell offers a powerful way to enhance your home's security and convenience. SimpliSafe's model has features like two-way audio, so you can communicate directly with visitors—or potential intruders—from anywhere using your smartphone.

Simpli Safe  Simpli Safe Visit Site

Vivint's video doorbell also uses smart deter technology and detects deliveries. When the camera spots someone trying to take a package, it activates an LED ring and speaker, alerting the porch pirate that they're on camera.

Check for Vulnerable Entry Points

Inspect door frames for any cracks, rot, or weak spots that could allow someone to kick in the door. Reinforce any damaged areas, and use longer screws in the hinges and strike plate for better security.

Pay close attention to the window tracks and any rotted or damaged sills or frames. Remember to maintain weatherstripping around windows, which keeps out drafts while securing vulnerable spots a burglar could attack. Additionally, seal any exterior cracks or crevices around each window using caulk and expanding foam sealant.

Upgrade Door and Window Locks

Install high-quality deadbolt locks, preferably over one inch long, on all outside doors. Choose hardened steel for maximum security. When locked, the deadbolt should extend fully into the door frame.

Additional locks or latches can prevent windows from being forced open from outside. Consider sash locks for double-hung windows or lock pins for sliding windows. These provide extra protection against intruders gaining entry.

Consider Smart Locks

Smart locks from companies like ADT can offer features like remote locking/unlocking, temporary access codes, and alerts on your phone. A comprehensive security system can include door/window sensors, glass break detectors, and cameras, providing a holistic safety solution.

Reinforce Sliding Doors

Prevent sliding doors from being forced open by installing a rigid security bar that fits snugly into the bottom track when closed. Use dowels or pins in sliding glass doors and double-hung window tracks to prevent lifting open from the outside. Drill a hole and insert a secure dowel to block the door or window from opening.

Even if you live in one of the safest cities in the US, you should add an extra layer of security by installing secondary blocking devices like latches, rods, jams, or braces on sliding doors or double doors.

Apply Security Film to the Glass

Applying safety or security window film makes the glass more resistant to breaking while holding shards in place, delaying entry even if the glass is broken. Select a film thickness that matches your security needs for optimal protection, with thicker films (ranging from four to 15 mils) ideal for more vulnerable areas.

Secure Outbuildings and Garages

Don’t overlook sheds, detached garages, or other outbuildings. Secure these structures just as you would your home, especially if storing valuables like tools or equipment. Make sure to install discreet security cameras in these areas for extra protection.

Overgrown plants give burglars a place to hide as they watch your home. Neatly kept landscaping makes your home less tempting for break-ins.

Protect Your Home While You're Away

Protecting your home while you're on holiday requires additional methods to make it seem like someone's there. You want to avoid signaling an empty house to potential intruders. Here's what you can do:

  • Suspend mail and newspaper delivery to prevent papers from accumulating. An overflowing mailbox signals no one's home.
  • Park a car in the driveway to give the appearance of someone being home. Ask a neighbor to repark it periodically for added security.
  • Arrange for a trusted friend or relative to check inside your home and bring trash cans in while you're away.
  • Set timers for lights and electronics to turn on and off automatically, mimicking normal usage.
  • Avoid posting vacation details and whereabouts on social media before and during your trip. Wait until you return to post updates.
  • Many police departments offer vacation property checks. Notify them of your plans so they’re aware and can monitor your home.
  • Pause recurring deliveries like subscriptions and grocery orders so they don't visibly pile up.
  • Check your security system's battery backup and test all sensors and cameras before departing.

Additional Things To Do for a Protected Home

Create a Home Inventory

Thoroughly document your home’s contents with photos, descriptions, and serial numbers. This inventory provides proof of ownership in case of theft and supports insurance claims.

Regularly Inspect Fire Safety Equipment

Regularly check your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers to confirm they're in working order. Test your smoke detectors once a month and switch out their batteries every six months.

Also, examine your fire extinguishers' pressure gauges to ensure they're fully charged and ready to use. For an added layer of security, think about installing a security camera from a service like Deep Sentinel near your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Deep Sentinel Deep Sentinel Visit Site

Safely Store Valuables and Important Documents

Safely store your jewelry, cash, passports, and other valuable items in a hidden floor or wall safe, keeping them out of plain sight and avoiding predictable storage spots like dresser drawers.

Always lock ladders in a secure shed to prevent their use in accessing upper-level windows, rather than leaving them outside or in open garages. If you have firearms, get proper training on their safe handling and storage. Securely lock away guns and ammunition so that your kids can't access them.

Create a Family Plan

Have a plan to reach and communicate with family members in case of emergency or a break-in when at home. Pick an outside meeting spot and run test drills regularly to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Home

Following a detailed home security checklist can make your space much safer. Security systems use smart technology to catch intruders and quickly set off alarms. The good news is there are options for every budget and lifestyle.

I suggest you carefully go through this list and put its advice into action, especially before you go on a trip. Doing this will help deter break-ins and ensure your family and belongings stay well-protected.

» Get the full guide to home security system costs.

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
Chris Wilson contributes to Top10.com as a CSPM with over 23 years of experience in the North American security market. His expertise includes system design, project management, and solutions engineering. Chris has written for SDM and Locksmith Ledger and co-published various blogs within the security industry.