From burglars to fires to stampeding buffaloes, you never know what kind of situations your home may have to deal with. That’s why it’s so important to prepare in advance, especially since doing so can save a lot of money and headache in the long run. While many people think that there’s a handful of things they can do to ensure their home is protected, the reality is that there are dozens and more. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide to protecting your home on a budget.
1. Stay in touch with your neighbors.
Many people are too shy to call the police when they see suspicious activity. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye out on your property, and they can prove to be the best alarm system there is.
2. Scout the perimeter and find weaknesses.
No one knows your property better than you do. Take some time to scope it out from the outside and you’ll likely find a few ways to make it easier to protect.
3. Keep the plants and shrubs located around your doors trimmed.
They can often provide cover while a thief works on getting through your door. Plus, shrubs generally look nicer when they’re trimmed!
4. Plant thorny plants by your windows.
Windows are a popular way to get into people’s homes, but no robber wants to sit in a thorny, painful bush.
5. Put up a fence around your property.
This decreases visibility and makes it more difficult to access your property. It also lets your dog roam outside, if you have one.
6. Don’t leave expensive items outside.
This includes bikes, grills, and yes, even cars. Your garage is the perfect place to put things away, and that way crooks won’t be enticed by your possessions.
7. Keep your cats away from windows when you’re out of town.
Burglars know that your cat is by the window because it has nothing else to do and is waiting on you. Try putting plants or other objects on your windowsill instead.
8. Don’t assume your small dog will offer any security.
Most seasoned robbers won’t be deterred by a small dog. In fact, there’s a good chance it will get stolen as well since they often fetch a good price.
9. Do assume a big dog is better for home security.
Simply put, the look more intimidating. A Rottweiler or pit bull can stop crooks before they even step onto your property.
10. Make sure your door and frame are made out of the same material.
If one is metal and the other is made of wood, it makes it easier for robbers to kick the door in. However, using the same material for both makes the door stronger.
11. Don’t forget to close your windows.
Sure, sounds simple, but there can be a lot of windows in a house. Some robbers will not feel comfortable with smashing one open.
12. Double-check the bathroom window.
It is often the most likely to be open because homeowners like to leave this one open in order to air out the bathroom. Robbers know this.
13. Keep an eye on the cable guy.
Some crooks work with cable technicians and other workers that visit people’s homes to get insider information, like access codes and what kind of valuable can be found in the residence.
14. Change your access codes regularly.
If you give out an access code for your garage or back door, make sure to change it up regularly. This is especially helpful for those who have had laborers visit their home, or for Airbnb renters.
15. Install deadbolts on your doors.
The deadbolt is tougher to break or pick than other locks. This is especially true for a deadbolt that needs to be opened with a key from both sides.
16. Use a Simlock on your deadbolt.
A Simlock attaches to one side of your deadbolt, rendering it nearly un-pickable. It prevents the deadbolt knob from turning, which means even a locksmith can’t pick the lock.
17. Reinforce your door’s strike plate.
The strike plate is the metal plate that is attached to your door jamb, which the deadbolt slides into. Check that the screws reinforcing the strike plate are 3 inches long, which will make it much sturdier.
18. Add a track lock to your patio door.
The patio door is usually easier to pick. By adding an additional foot lock, which fastens to the bottom of the door and bolts into a grommet in the door track, you can make it much more secure.
19. Make a homemade security bar for your patio door.
Simply take a length of wood, cut it down to size, and make sure it fits snugly in your patio door’s track so that it can’t slide open. This is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your door secure.
20. Install cheap, noisy door and window alarms.
Usually battery powered, these alarms simply give off a loud noise when a door or window opens and the alarm unit’s magnetic strip breaks contact with the frame. They are widely available at home stores.
21. Use curtains.
This will help hide your valuables from any crooks that may be trying to look into your residence. A robber’s job is easier If they know what’s inside.
22. Don’t forget about basement and garage windows.
You can install curtains on these too. Garages and basements are often stocked with valuables.
23. Don’t leave tools or ladders outside.
Tools can be used to break into your own home, and the ladder can make it easier to access the upper floors.
24. Talk to your neighborhood association or local representative about improving lighting on your street.
A well-lit street can scare off burglars, who prefer to work in the shadows.
25. Consider forming a neighborhood watch.
Watchful neighbors are an excellent deterrent to robbers. And when an entire neighborhood is organized and knows what to watch out for, it can really improve the safety of the area.
26. Trim tree branches that can reach your second-story windows.
Though it’s riskier than a ladder, a tree branch can still provide a bold thief with a way into your home.
27. Keep fences and gates locked.
It can be easy to forget about these, but locking these can present another hurdle for crooks.
28. Don’t leave a spare key in and obvious place.
Many people leave a spare key under the doormat or on the door frame. These are obvious places. Get more creative about your hiding spot.
29. Use a spare key lockbox.
Even better than a hiding spot, an exterior lock box will keep your spare key secure.
30. Better yet, leave your spare key with a neighbor.
A key lock box is tough to break into, but it’s possible.
31. Put large, reflective numbers on your mailbox and house.
This will make it easier for the police to find your house should you or a neighbor call them about a possible disturbance or robbery.
32. Make sure your window locks are strong.
Especially on older windows, some locks can be jiggly and flimsy.
33. Secure your car.
Preferably, you should keep your car secure inside your garage. If that’s not an option, make sure all the doors are locked and the windows are rolled up. Crooks can take valuables from your car or use the tools in your trunk.
34. Don’t keep spare keys in your wallet.
If you lose it, a robber gets the keys to your home and also the address from your personal ID.
35. Change the locks when moving into a new residence.
You never know who else has keys to your home, unless you’ve installed the locks yourself.
36. Add privacy films to exterior-door windows.
Some doors have glass that makes it easy for robbers to take a peek through. Privacy film will make windows blurry and stop robbers them from scoping out your residence.
37. Install metal bars on windows.
This may be an extreme step for some, but it adds a lot of security, especially for basement and garden-apartment windows.
38. Install motion-sensor lights.
These can deter anyone from snooping around your residence at night, especially if you’re not home.
39. Consider installing exterior flood lights.
These are more powerful than standard bulbs and will add more lighting to the exterior of your home.
40. Have a neighbor collect your mail.
When on vacation or gone for business, a stuffed mailbox is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
41. Schedule regular lawn maintenance.
Another way crooks know you’re away on a trip is if your yard looks unkempt. A neighbor or landscaping company can keep your property looking sharp.
42. Install a safe.
This is likely the safest place to put your valuables. Safes can be installed in several ways, including by being bolted to the ground or by pouring concrete around it.
43. Install a peephole.
It’s a great way to see who is on the other side of your door. You won’t have to open your door to any strangers.
44. Consider buying a security mailbox.
With online theft more common than ever, a security mailbox is a great way to protect the checks, credit cards, and other sensitive information that arrives through the mail.
45. Use a key chain garage opener.
Thieves can get into your garage or home if they get access to the garage opener inside your car. A garage opener attached to your keys minimizes the risk.
46. Padlock your garage door.
Many garage-door locks are flimsy, so putting a padlock on the track of your garage door is a great way to beef up security from the inside. If there’s no hole on the track, you can also drill one in.
47. Install a door reinforcement kit.
–Many burglars won’t pick a lock, they’ll just simply kick the door in. A reinforcement kit adds a steel plate that wraps around your door, making sure the locks and door are sturdier.
48. Get creative with your hiding spots.
Thieves don’t have all day to look through your house, and a creative hiding spot can save your valuables from being stolen. Try hiding them inside your vacuum cleaner, or inside an old jar or food container in your refrigerator.
49. Put timers on lights.
This is especially helpful if you’ll be getting home late or if you’re on vacation. Lights can confuse robbers, making them think someone is home.
50. Leave the radio on.
Another simple way to confuse robber when you won’t be home for a while. They might think that someone is home.
51. If you have an answering machine, don’t advertise your vacation.
If thieves somehow get your phone number, they can find out if you’re out of town or not.
52. Secure air conditioners.
In-window air conditioners can be easily taken out unless they’re bolted down.
53. Make sure your pet door can be locked.
If you have a big enough dog, someone can slip through your pet door. Make sure you have one that can be locked when you’re not around.
54. Avoid doors with a lot of glass.
Glass doors can be broken, and so can small windows on doors. Robbers can reach through and access the doorknob.
55. Don’t advertise expensive items in your trash.
A big box for a flat screen TV is a dead giveaway that you have expensive items inside. Fold or cut up the box and then dispose of it.
56. Use home-alarm stickers.
For most robbers, it’s not worth it breaking into a home with an alarm, even if you haven’t installed one yet. (They don’t know that.)
57. Get a “Beware of Dog” sign
Even if you don’t have a dog, it can make a thief think twice about coming on your property.
58. Keep up with the Joneses.
Find out what kind of security measures your neighbors are using. You don’t want your house to be the easiest one on the block to rob.
59. Install inexpensive window break alarms.
These battery-powered gadgets are especially useful when paired with magnetic-strip alarms that sound off when windows are opened.
60. Use a door brace.
You’ll need to be home to use this one, but it’s one of the best ways to secure your door. It’s a bar that secures your doorknob against the floor, making the door difficult to kick in.
61. Get insurance.
Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Even renters can get insurance just in case your possessions get stolen.
62. Consider installing multiple locks.
A door with three locks looks more intimidating than one with a single lock. It takes longer to pick and it’s harder to kick in.
63. Don’t skimp on door locks.
The difference between a cheap lock and a quality one can be just a few bucks, but it can save you a ton of money in the long run.
64. Have a friend try to “break” into your home.
They can often spot a weak spot that homeowners can’t.
65. Secure your home even if you’re not leaving for long.
A trip to the grocery store can leave plenty of time for a seasoned thief to break into your home.
66. Check if your local police department offers inspections.
Some local departments are more than happy to look over your property. As an added bonus, you’ll meet the local police.
67. Consider upgrading your doors.
Steel doors and door frames are stronger than wood.
68. Pay attention to local police alerts.
If there have been recent break-ins in the neighborhood, you should be on high alert and keep your eyes open.
69. Use a paper shredder.
Sensitive information that you throw out in your garbage can be more valuable than anything you have in your home. Shred all important mail and documents before throwing them out.
70. Don’t leave your portable GPS unit in your car.
Many GPS units are programmed to show where home is. If your car ever gets stolen at the airport or hotel parking lot, it can show the robber exactly where your unattended house is.
71. Hire a house sitter.
It’s fairly obvious but very effective. When you’re away, a house sitter can take out your trash, collect your mail, and make sure the house looks lived-in.
72. Make sure you have lights all around your house.
Flood lights and motion-sensor lights are great, but if you leave one side of the house unlit, burglars will just stick to that side.
73. Make sure your outdoor shed is secure.
Just like a garage, a shed can have many tools that aid in break-ins. Even if the shed is locked, make sure it’s structurally strong enough so it can’t easily be accessed.
74. Destroy old computers before throwing them out.
Hard drives can store a treasure trove of information. A common way to destroy hard drives is to use a power drill.
75. Never leave notes on your door.
Even if you’re away on vacation, notes to neighbors or the mailman can signal that you’re away.
76. Make sure everyone in your household is educated on home security.
If you always lock the doors, but your roommate or family don’t, then your residence won’t be very secure.
77. Consider installing a safety door.
Like a beefed-up screen door, a safety door protects your front door from the outside. It’s made of sturdy materials and adds a lot of security.
78. Have your security improvements installed by a professional.
Strong locks and doors are a great idea, but if they’re installed improperly, they may prove to be ineffective.
79. Consider purchasing a smart doorbell.
Because it’s connected to the Internet, it can send an alert and even an image of the person ringing to your smartphone.
80. Don’t forget about the linking door.
This is the door that connects your garage to your home. Even if burglars get in your garage, if the linking door is sturdy, they may just leave.
81. Secure your Wi-Fi network.
As cyber criminals become more common, your sensitive information becomes more likely to get stolen through the Internet.
82. Install a professional home-security system.
It’ll cost a pretty penny, but it’s one of the best ways to secure your home and belongings.
83. Keep a record of your valuables.
If you have insurance, and you do get burglarized, it’ll help replace your belongings. Store it in a secure location, like a safe.
84. Install a surveillance system.
This option is on the pricier side, but it can definitely give piece of mind. Additionally, modern systems are Internet connected, allowing you to check cameras from your phone while you’re away.
85. Get fake cameras.
Can’t afford an entire surveillance system? Fake cameras are relatively cheap and look just like the real thing.
86. Turn your phone ringer down.
When you’re not home, and the burglar somehow has gotten a hold of your phone number, they can dial it while outside your door. If it keeps ringing off the hook, they know no one’s inside.
87. Make sure your door hinges are tamper resistant if they are located outside.
Some older doors have their hinges outside the home, rather than inside. Tamper resistant hinges require special tools to disassemble that most thieves will not carry.
88. Consider installing fence spikes.
This one is a bit extreme, but especially if you’re living in an urban area, you can install spike strips on top of your fence.
89. Install a letter cage.
Have a letter slot in your door? Some burglars like to use a long stick or similar device to fish your nearby keys off a table and through the letter slit. A cage on the inside of your door not only collects mail but prevents this.
90. Avoid stashing valuables in your bedroom.
It’s the most common place that burglars look for cash and jewelry.
91. Consider stashing some valuables in your attic.
While not it’s not as safe as a safe, hiding valuables in the attic is much safer than a bedroom. Generally, burglars don’t want to go into the attic because if someone comes home, they’d be trapped.
92. Store extra suitcases and bags in the attic.
Burglars often use these to haul away your belongings. If you leave them up in the loft, they may end up taking fewer items.
93. Always shut your front gate.
This won’t stop every burglar, but it is a psychological barrier. Burglars look for low-hanging fruit and prefer a property with an open gate.
94. Don’t assume lightning only strikes once.
If your home has been broken into, then someone knows its weak points and may do it again. Prepare for the worst.
95. Invest in motion-sensor security devices.
Don’t have pets? Devices such as the Nest Cam will track any motion inside your home and alert your phone if anything happens, complete with photos.
96. Make sure you have working smoke alarms.
Not all threats to your home come from the outside. Fires and electrical problems can happen when you least expect them.
97. Add a carbon monoxide detector.
Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and can occur without smoke.
98. Use surge protectors.
They protect your valuable appliances and decrease the chances of an electrical fire.
99. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher.
Or two. Fires are usually unexpected and you have to react fast to put them out.
100. Use a fireplace screen.
Have a fireplace? A fireplace screen can keep popping wood bits from shooting out of the fireplace, and kids’ hands away from the fire.
101. Consider installing a fire-sprinkler system.
Though expensive, it’s a very effective way to fight fires at home.