Editor’s Note: This article by Jonathan Stern was originally published on Fatherly, a digital lifestyle guide for men entering parenthood.
If somebody is trying to open your sliding glass door in the middle of the night, chances are they're not Jehovah's Witnesses. Because every house on your block has a deadbolt lock and ADP sign in the front yard, you need to make your home even less of a target.
Fortunately that extra level of security is as easy as hitting up Home Depot. Joel Smernoff is head of Parachute Corp, a private security firm for the rich and powerful, and the man who taught you how to prepare for the upcoming zombie/nuclear/weather-pocalypse. Smernoff says, “The way we look at physical security is a layered approach.” First, be aware of what's going on around you. Second, make it difficult for bad guys to get in in. And lastly, have a plan if somebody does manage to penetrate your defenses (Warning: it may involve ripping out eyeballs).
1. Practice situational awareness.
“The first layer of security — before you get into the home — is you,” says Smernoff. “In the military they call it situational awareness or mindset. Get your head out of your device. Whether it's driving back to your home or taking the subway to your apartment, you need to be aware of what's going on around you. If you see a suspicious car, drive away for half hour. If it's still there call 911.” And if you don't know whether or not you've picked up a tail, consult the Bourne Trilogy.
Related: A security forces vet offers gun safety tips for keeping your home safe.
2. Bar the front door.
Solid wood is second only to impenetrable steel when it comes to your entryway. Avoid having a hollow-core door (like the rooms at the Overlook Hotel) for a front door; it does nothing for your safety.
Once you have several inches of hardwood between you and your intruder, you should also reinforce that flimsy door jamb with anti-kick plate and replace the hinge bolts, so if they try to knock it down from either side it won't budge. But, better to not to wait and see.
3. Where to keep your keys.
First, you should keep your keys on your nightstand, not on a hook by the door. In a pinch, you can hit the panic button on your car key and wake up the neighborhood or get the police to investigate.
Now the bad guys are gone, but the police are still on their way and you don't want them to kick in your door either. Pro tip: Put a glow stick on your key and throw it out your window. Tell the dispatch the cops can look for it and let themselves in. If the police are crooked, consult the 1997 thriller, Cop Land.
4. A quick way to secure the garage.
Your garage's emergency release is a quick way for criminals to get into your house. The two-cent fix: Get a zip tie and tie the emergency handle up higher. If there is an emergency, you can still get it. And make sure that you have a deadbolt lock on the door from your garage to your house.
5. Build a safe room.
It's not just for the paranoid or Jodie Foster says Smernoff. “In my house it's the master bedroom. Just like the door to the garage, I have an anti-kick plate and a deadbolt. It can also be a kids room or closet. You'll want to reinforce the door, have some food and water, and a landline in case your mobile isn't working to call 911.”
6. A note on home cameras.
Smernoff says, “Nest cams are a nice feature, but also put some cameras outside your house.” Neither of which are going to protect you, but at least you'll have more information on who is trying to get at you.
7. Adopt a (attack) dog.
Besides being lovable companions that will give you years of joy, dogs are furry alarms (or, if they're big and scary, furry bodyguards) who will alert you to someone lurking outside. Unfortunately, that someone could just as easily be a squirrel. A squirrel who wants to kill you and everyone you care about.
8. You don't need an alarm, just the sign.
If you can't afford the alarm system, buy the sign. You're trying to make your house look better defended than the neighbors. Can't afford a sign? Just cut out an arrow pointing to your next door neighbor and write “rich people” on it.
9. Get some automatic lights.
“If someone approaches your house you want lights to come on,” says Smernoff. Get a few outdoor motion-sensor flood lights to take care of the dark corners around your home. Set your indoor lights on a timer when you're away, but don't be so predictable. Get a timer you can connect to via smartphone and manually turn them on and off. Just in case some Sticky Bandits are casing the joint.
10. Plant a rose bush perimeter.
Your Nana may not have been a security expert, but she was on to something by planting an area of dense, thorny bushes around windows and other access points. Her collection of lawn gnomes, however, are only scary to realtors.
This article, “10 Ridiculously Simple Things This Security Expert Does To Protect His Home,” originally appeared on Fatherly.
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