Police Home Security Tips

Larry Smith

Burglaries happen every 13 seconds. Here are some ideas that will help you decide what additional steps you might want to take to improve your home security.

Carbon Monoxide

Approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5000 people injured.

Have your furnace checked annually by a professional. Change your filters on a regular basis.
Ensure that appliances are properly adjusted and working according to the instructions of the manufacturer and local building codes.
Obtain annual inspections for heating system, chimneys, and flues and have them cleaned by a qualified technician.
Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.(Hint: Do this when you change your clocks from standard time to daylight savings time and back.)
Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
Do not use ovens and gas ranges to heat your home.
Do not burn charcoal inside a home, cabin, recreational vehicle or camper.
Make sure stoves and heaters are vented to the outside and that exhaust systems do not leak.
Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces.
Never leave a car or lawn mower engine running in a shed or garage, or in any enclosed space.
Make sure your furnace has adequate intake of outside air.


Doors are the second highest point of entry for residential burglaries! Over 40% of home burglaries are termed by police as "no force" entries. In other words, doors or windows were left unlocked, allowing the burglar easy access to the home.

All latch-strike plates on your exterior doors should be secured with at least 3" screws.
Exterior doors having glass within 3 feet of the lock should have double-cylinder deadbolts installed on them.
All your exterior doors without glass should have a wide-angle door-viewer installed for identifying visitors.
All exterior doors should be constructed of solid wood.
Change the locks when you move into your home or apartment.
Always lock all your doors when you are home for the night or when you leave your residence.

Exterior Entries

Most burglars spend only 30 to 60 seconds attempting to gain entry into a home. This implies that the harder it is for a burglar to get into a home, the better chance that he will move on to an easier target.

All sheds or outbuildings should be secured with a quality, weatherproof padlock.
All valuables stored outside (bikes, ladders, lawnmowers, motorcycles, etc.) should be secured to a fixed, immovable object.
Engrave your drivers license number into valuables.
Keep ladders, tools or items that could be used to gain access to your home locked up and out of sight.

Exterior Lighting

Main entryways to your residence should be well-lit to allow for identification of visitors at your doors and to prevent loitering. 90% of all intruders will choose not to enter a residence that is well-lit.

All entrances should be illuminated well.
Floodlights or some other type of area illumination should cover all exterior sections of your home and property.
Use motion sensors to control your exterior lighting.


Every 18 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Fires at night (between 11pm & 7am) accounted for 19% of all dwelling fires.

Have ABC-type fire extinguishers in your kitchen, garage, and basement.
Practice and plan with all members of your household so they know exactly what to do in case of fire or other emergency.
Test your smoke detectors once a month.
Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.(Hint: Do this when you change your clocks from standard time to daylight savings time and back.)
Store all flammables in original, marked containers away from sources of heat or flame.
Always use a fire screen when you burn in your fireplace.
Do not store any combustible items near the fireplace.
Keep flammable items away from portable and baseboard heaters. Turn off heaters when not in use.
Water Christmas trees regularly. Turn off tree lights when you go to bed.
Do not overload electrical outlets.
Do not go to bed or leave the home with candles burning.
Consider investing in a home fire safe to help protect small valuables, important papers, heirlooms, etc. from fire and burglary. A fire safe is an excellent second line of defense in addition to a monitored home security and fire system.
Crawl low under smoke.
Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch fire.
Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.

Fire Escape Plan

Only 53 percent of Americans have an escape plan and of those, only 16% have practiced it.

Have two ways out of each room.
Have working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas.
Establish a meeting place outside.
Post the emergency phone number for the fire department.
Practice the plan at least twice a year with every member of the household.
If there are infants or family members with mobility limitations, someone in the household should plan to assist them.
Make sure that doors needed for escape can be opened easily, and that windows are not nailed or painted shut.

Garage Doors

10% of all illegal entries are gained through a garage door.

If your overhead garage door is not equipped with an automatic opener, have good-quality padlocks installed on both sides of the door.
Your exterior main door and the door from the garage into your home should have quality deadbolts. Always use them.
Always close your overhead garage door, even when you are home.
Be sure your garage door can be secured. Do not leave it open when you are away; an empty garage broadcasts your absence.
Lock the door leading from the garage to the house.


74.3% of unsuccessful burglaries were attributed to the alarm system "scaring away" the intruder. The probability of a burglary at a residential site without an alarm system is 14.8%

Have a working home alarm system.
Always remember to arm the alarm before you leave.
Your alarm system should be armed when you will be in your backyard for any length of time.
Discontinue mail and newspaper service when away from home on vacation or business.
Arrange for a friend or neighbor to come by and check on your home when you plan on being away several days or longer.
Avoid announcing "We are not home right now." on your telephone answering machine.
Engrave your drivers license number into valuables.


Fences and shrubbery can make good hiding places for burglars.

Tree limbs should be trimmed to prevent access to upper floor windows or balconies.
Plant "prickly" or thorny shrubbery near windows to discourage loitering or hiding.
All outdoor foliage should be trimmed to prevent obstruction of exterior lighting.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are usually installed at the rear of a home or apartment making them good candidates for entry by a burglar.

Auxiliary locks can prevent the door from being lifted out of its track.

Swimming Pool

Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under five in Florida, Arizona, and California, with a ranking of number two for over a dozen other states.

If your pool area has a secondary fence, secure the gates with a gate lock or auxiliary padlock.
Your pool area or property line should be surrounded by at least a 6 foot high fence.
Train every member of your household in CPR.
Alarms on access doors is another layer of protection.
Teach water survival training to a child when he is capable of crawling or walking to the pool.
Access doors to the pool area with high locks are a secondary layer of protection.
CPR and your knowledge of rescue techniques are a final layer of protection.
Any door leading to the pool area should be kept locked.
Floating pool alarm devices with remote alarms sounding in the home can alert you to a child falling into the pool.
Never go into the house to answer the telephone and leave a child unattended in the pool area.
Do not leave objects in the pool that could attract children.


Research shows that 74% of all unsuccessful burglary attempts failed because of an alarm that emits a loud sound.

Notify all emergency responders of your vacation schedule.
Leave a key with a responder.
Install timing lights which will automatically turn on during certain times of the day.
Have a neighbor pick up your mail, or have the post office hold it for you.
Stop the delivery of newspapers.


Over 40% of home burglaries are termed by police as "no force" entries. In other words, doors or windows were left unlocked, allowing the burglar easy access to the home. Windows are the 1st point of entry for residential burglaries! 30.9% of burglaries occur through first floor windows. 6.0% of burglaries occur through the upper-floor windows.

Always have the keys or hex keys readily available in an emergency. If you do not have keyed or hex screw locks, secure your windows additionally with pins or nails.
Auxiliary window locks can be installed to allow ventilation while maintaining security.

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