Layer 1: The Outside Layer
- Reinforced doors and locks. There is only 1 ” of wood protecting you in normal door locks.
- Invest in heavy duty door hinges and secure door frames with 3 ” screws.
- Barred windows or European-style security/storm shutters.
- Doors that are not glass or see through.
- Install a peep hole for the door.
- Never rely on a chain latch as an effective barrier (they are easily broken if the door is kicked in).
- Install infrared flood lights, or motion detector lights around the perimeter of the home.
- A gate at the front of the driveway that has spikes at the top to prevent someone from jumping over the fence
- Never leave a spare key hidden under a rock or door mat. Too many people do this and it is the first place a criminal is going to look.
- Cut back large trees or bushes near the windows to provide concealment. Additionally, putting thorn bushes and other types of plants to further secure the home would be advantageous.
- Have a guard dog trained to attack. And place “beware of dog” signs in the front and side gates of the home.
Layer 2: The Inside Layer
- Consider investing in an alarm and advertise that you have one by placing stickers in windows and signs in the yard.
- Consider adding a 2-way voice feature to the existing alarm system. This feature enables your security system to communicate directly through the control panel. This feature also allows you to call into your system and be able to listen to any activity or speak to your child or other family members who are home.
- Position web cams strategically in hidden areas. Place the computer that is monitoring the locations in a hidden spot so the criminals do not walk off with the computer.
- Have emergency plans and protocols set up where children or teens can see them. Additionally, have important contact phone numbers next to the plan.
- Teach the household how to call 9-1-1, and have a script ready for them to read to the dispatcher. This will help keep them explain calmly to the dispatcher what the emergency situation is.
- Teach members of the home different escape routes to use in case they need to leave the home, as well as a code word to use for the family to immediately leave the home to go to a safe location.
- Close all curtains and blinds at nighttime and set the alarm.
- Keep purses, car keys, money and jewelry away from windows were burglars can look in and see. This only makes them want to break in more.
- If a gun is in the home, have it locked up or put away so that smaller children do not try to use it.
Layer 3: The Personal Layer
This is the most critical layer.
- Teach family members to be observant of their surroundings when coming home and be aware of suspicious activity.
- Never open the door to strangers. Teach children not to be easily persuaded by strangers who look professional or have badges.
- Teach chidren to call “safe” adults, such as neighbors for help in cases where parents are not home.
- Get to know your neighbors and have their phone numbers on hand in case the child needs help from a nearby adult.
- Or, arrange a neighborhood watch program.
- Never be afraid to call the police if a stranger or solicitor is acting suspiciously.
- Teach children how to use the security alarm and where the panic button is.
- Find a bug out location for family members to go to for safety.
- If someone is trying to break into your home, activate your car alarm or panic button on the security alarm to draw attention from the neighbors.
- As a last resort, teach older members of the home and older children how to use weapons against intruders.
It’s not enough these days to tell those who are home alone to have the doors and windows locked at all times or to not open doors for strangers. Parents need to thoroughly discuss emergency and safety plans with those living in the home, as well as protocols on how to handle certain dangers. A person who is prepared for a possible run in with a burglar or home invader is well equipped with knowledge on the home’s security features, knowledge on how to get additional family members to safety, get help, and as a last resort know how to use a weapon. Teaching members of the family what a home invasion is and the dangers associated with it will help them understand that invaders will not be kind, that they are intending to hurt persons who are inside, and will stop at nothing to get what they want.
When an emergency arises, adrenaline is kicks in, and triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing a rush of emotion, anxiety and for some, panic. Practising emergency plans can help a family know exactly what to do and how to stay calm doing it. Dangers such as home invasions and burglaries are occurring more frequently, thus causing those who are home alone to be more at risk. Having layers of security features in and outside of the home can keep those inside the home safer.