What Can I get to Make My Home Safe? A Look at Home Security Tools

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In this article, I am going to go over tools that you can use for home security.

I will also discuss what things you can use to make your home safer – this includes active and passive elements to layered home defense strategy.

Around this time last year, The Verge reported that Spectrum (the cable provided) is discontinuing their home security service.

According to the article, Spectrum customers will no longer have service for their alarm system after February 5th 2020.

This has left customers with no service and equipment that no longer works.

Reportedly, Spectrum has coded their firmware and equipment not to work with other providers. In other words, Spectrum door sensors, keypads etc. will not work with any other system.

This has left many customers searching for a new alarm system and fast.

The good news is that there are a lot of other great alarm companies out there.

I did some research on installing a DIY alarm system, which was published here.

Tools for home security

One of the most underrated parts to protecting your home is deterrence. Simply put, this means preventing a criminal from targeting your home in the first place.

What tools prevent our homes from being broken into in the first place?

Security alarm signs

One of things I want you to put up is an alarm sign in your yard.

The purpose of the sign is not to advertise for the company that you have. It isn’t to announce that you have an alarm system.

What it does is if there is a burglar standing on your street and they are looking at your house, and they are looking at your neighbor’s house, they are sizing up which one is going to be easier to get into.

A burglar doesn’t want to work very hard to break in – they want to get in and get out.

If they look at your yard and there is a sign that says you have an alarm system, then they’re probably going to pick your neighbor’s house.

I know that sounds bad, but that’s the reality of the situation.

So, what sort of sign should you put in the yard?

If you have a system that is installed and monitored by ADT I do not recommend putting up an ADT sign in your yard – nothing against this company.

However, when you put a sign in the yard with the brand of alarm that you have, you are giving away some information about what is in your home.

If someone knows an exploit for a certain alarm company that they know is used in your home, they may be tempted to use that exploit against you.

So pick whatever alarm company you want and you can go online cheaply on Amazon and you can buy a generic surveillance sign.

This can be a nice, classy sign that you can have in your yard that says this home is under surveillance, this home is being monitored or you can get one of those cheeky ones that says ‘smile, you’re on camera’.

An alarm sign tells would-be thieves you’re watching, you’re prepared, this home is going to be a hard target, move on! And that’s what you want it to do.

Outdoor motion sensor lights

Most home break-ins occur during the day when thieves know no one is home but a lot of people fear what it is like when someone breaks into your home at night.

Or if you are travelling you want to make it look like your home is occupied when you’re gone.

So for that, I suggest you use outdoor motion sensor lights. These are the units that have a motion sensor in it with big floodlights, which can be easily attached to the side of your home.

What is good about motion sensor lights is that if someone approaches your home, when the motion sensor trips the burglar will have some sort of response.

Generally their response will be that a motion sensor that just caught be and lit me up so that the whole neighborhood can see me or has the homeowner heard me and they are turning on the light to investigate?

This causes doubt in the mind of the burglar, will light them up so that maybe your neighbor walking their dog sees them, and alerts authorities.

Motion sensor lights offer all sorts of great protection to keep your home safe and from being a target in the first place.

Check out my hand-on reviews of the best motion sensor light for outside.

Wemo Smart Plug

I’m a big fan of the Wemo smart plug, which you can plug lamps to and set up schedules so that when you’re away (or even on a daily basis) you can have lights turn on and off in your home to make your home look occupied.

You can do this at Christmas with your lights. You can do this inside with a typical lamp. You can even buy Wemo switches that you put into the wall and integrate it with your existing fixtures.

It is as simple as turning your light on and off and you can even use your phone to turn the lights on and off and set a schedule and all sorts of cool stuff.

So, that’s a really good way to make sure your home looks occupied and prevents someone from targeting your home in the first place.

Check out my hand-on reviews of the best smart lights and smart switches for your home.

Alarm systems

Your basic alarm system really just needs to cover only what you need i.e. all the points of entry in your home (all doors and windows).

These can be covered with a door sensor, a window sensor, a glass break sensor, a motion sensor – things like that – just to make sure every entry is covered.

There are some companies out there who just want you to slap up a camera in every corner of your house and they say they’ll make all the decisions for you.

If that’s what you’re looking for, that’s great. I tend to think that’s too much reliance on the security company and not enough on you.

At the end of the day, the alarm system is there for you, as well as for your and family’s safety.

Encompassed strike plate

We talked about common points of entry for your home i.e. doors and windows.

Believe it or not, this may sound counter-intuitive but the most common way a thief enters your home is either through the front door or the back door.

In fact, more than 50% of burglaries are through doors.

So, how can we make our doors more secure?

Firstly, we can lock them and make sure our deadbolts are working.

Next, I suggest you install an encompassed strike plate into the door-frame of your home and you should screw it in with two 2-inch screws.

What this does, is it encapsulates the deadbolt lock, and that strengthens it.

Now, a lot of times when burglars break in, they are going to use a kicking style attack to simply use brute force to open the door.

So, when you have the encompassed strike plate inside your door frame, what it does is it strengthens the deadbolt and it also strengthens the door frame.

This is useful against kicking style attacks because those usually just break the door-frame.

Usually it isn’t the lock or the door that fails, it is the actual frame itself that fails. So, by beefing up your strike plate you are making the whole system stronger and that’s what you want.

Video doorbell

I often see on social media people asking ‘what is the best video doorbell out there? Because I want to use that to protect my home.’

To that, I say that it is going to take more than a video doorbell to protect your home. That said, it is a good start if that’s where you want to go.

I don’t recommend one particular brand over another. I think they are all good.

As long as they offer you good monitoring, they have a good motion sensor on it, and you can control it so that each passing car on the street doesn’t set it off, I think you’re good to go.

But what Ring and Nest have been on the news for lately they have had a lot of people hacking their stuff and it is not Amazon or Google’s fault.

What it is, is people like us that have failed to protect the online side of the video doorbell.

We’ll use common passwords, we won’t regularly change passwords or use two-factor authentication.

If you get a video doorbell as part of your layered home defense strategy, make sure that you take the back-end security of it seriously.

Firearms

A question often asked is ‘what is the best firearm for home defense?’

Pardon the pun – that’s a loaded question.

What you need to understand is that a firearm has the potential to make your home safer if you know how to use it and you know how to store it properly.

If you don’t train on how to use it and you don’t store it properly, it can actually detract from the security of your home.

So, if you want to get a firearm to make your home safer, that’s great. Just make sure you get the training. Make sure you know what you are going to do. And make sure you know how to store it safely.

Does that mean that owning a firearm is essential to having a safe and secure home?

That really depends on you and your level of responsibility.

Conclusion

As we wrap up here, the biggest thing we can do to protect our home and protect our family is to change our mindset.

We need to understand that there are people out there that don’t share our values, they don’t share our norms, they don’t obey the law, they think differently than we do.

We can’t live in this bubble that says everything is great, no one is going to hurt me because that is not reality.

We need to adjust our mindset to put the safety and security of our family and ourselves first, and everything else after that we can enjoy doing knowing we are going to be safe.