>Home safety and security; helping to prevent burglaries through diligence and taking security steps and staying safe through good practices and professional assistance.
Assessing and taking steps to improve your home security and safety
Protecting against intruders such as burglars and keeping safe in and around the home are two key priorities. In both cases being diligent and adhering to basic procedures will keep you secure and safe along with some possible investment in appropriate equipment.
While burglaries are declining according to government statistics, with just 2% of the country’s 25 million homes being broken into each year, it still means around 500,000 households suffer the trauma and considerable inconvenience of being burgled.
As for safety, according to RoSPA (Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents) some 6,000 million people are killed in home accidents with around 2.7 million finding themselves visiting accident and emergency departments for help with injuries sustained at home.
What can be done?
Various measures can be taken to help your home avoid the attentions of would-be intruders. Most are opportunists so the harder you make it for them the less likely they are to attempt a break in:
Doors and windows – first of all, ensure doors and certainly downstairs windows are locked at all times when you’re out and preferably when you’re in, too – especially if you’re, say, out in the garden or similar. Double lock all UPVC doors by lifting the handle and turning the key.
Ensure good quality doors are fitted with a five point locking mechanism and windows have locks fitted.
If you’re unsure if your present locks are up to modern security standards then seek the services of a local professional locksmith.
CCTV and lighting – considered a key deterrent by burglars yet few homes have either fitted – much less both. A CCTV system and motion activated lighting are very worthwhile investments.
Install an alarm – Alarm systems can act as an effective deterrent to would-be burglars, with research showing that properties with prominently displayed intruder alarms are much less likely to be targeted – so it’s worth installing one in your home. Security systems can come with many different features including motion detectors and two-way wireless technology, so choose the system that best suits your needs.
General security procedures – adhere to the following:
- Don’t hide keys – leaving them under plant pots or similar is asking for trouble
- Accessible tools – burglars prefer to use implements they find near the property to help them again access so don’t leave tools and ladders lying around, or even in an unlocked shed
- Tidy garden – don’t let hedges and shrubs become overgrown so concealing your home from the back and front thus impairing natural surveillance
- Valuables on display – don’t offer temptation by leaving valuables clearly visible though ground floor windows
- Storing valuables – use a safe or even a bank vault
When you’re away – take the following steps:
- Help from neighbours – let your neighbours know when you’re away and ask them to keep an eye on your home and push through any mail, flyers or free newspapers left sticking out of your letterbox. Invite them to park a car on your drive while you’re away
- Timers – set timers to switch lights on and off
- Gardening – preferably arrange to have the lawn mown so as not to offer a clue your home is unoccupied
- Mail handling – use the Royal Mail’s ‘keepsafe’ service; they’ll retain your mail for up to two months while you’re away so avoiding the ‘carpet of mail’ in your hallway
- Social media – announcing you’re off to Australia for a month on Facebook can be useful information to a would be burglar
In order to stay safe in the home and avoid becoming one of the RoSPA statistics mentioned earlier, consider the following:
Electrical – many incidents stem from either the misuse of equipment and appliances or the use of damaged ones – for example, using something with a frayed cable.
- System – if you notice any issues with your electrics such as sparks, lighting periodically dimming, or regular tripping of the main trip switch, then ask a qualified electrician to assess and inspect your electrical system
- Appliances – any appliance with a frayed cable or that causes the mains to trip should not be used
- Trip switches – always use a trip switch with items such as lawn mowers and other electrical garden machinery; this will cut the power immediately in emergencies such as the cable being severed by the mower blade
Gas – if you’re on mains gas, then various certain safety precautions are important:
Inspections and servicing – your boiler and related gas equipment and appliances should be inspected at least annually by a Gas Safe registered plumber or heating engineer.
If you’re in rented property your landlord is obliged to ensure this happens.
Warnings and monitoring – a carbon monoxide (CO) detector should be fitted near the boiler and checked regularly; replace batteries immediately if required.
Fire prevention – as above ensure electrical items work properly and are in good condition; ensure smoke alarms are fitted on each level and work properly and replace batteries immediately.
Ensure escape areas such as hallways are clear and well lit; replace bulbs when necessary and don’t let clutter build up – it’ll help fires spread and act as an obstacle for you and your family’s safe exit from the property.
Ask yourself how easy it is to safely and quickly exit your property. Keep hallways clear and declutter often – don’t forget outside; garden paths should be kept clear with tools, ladders and other trip hazards not left lying around.
General maintenance – check there’s nothing that could cause an accident in and around the home; something as simple as a loose carpet tile or nail sticking proud of a floorboard could cause an unpleasant trip or cut respectively.
Keep safe and secure
Much of what you do to stay safe and secure in your home is basic procedures and common sense, but do seek help from experts such as locksmiths, qualified Gas Safe engineers and reputable electricians when necessary.