REVEALED: How to keep your home safe this summer

Keeping our homes safe – especially during the holidays – is something we all worry about. And when it’s hot, is it okay to leave windows and doors wide open, or are we targeting ourselves?

From smart home alarm systems to properly securing windows and doors, or even using strategic landscaping, Victoria Harrison, editor of home renovation and design platform Houzz, shares some helpful tips for keeping your home safe…

1. Make the most of your technology

Consumer technology is smarter than ever, and Harrison says there are several solutions available to help you deter burglars — and keep an eye on your home from a distance.

From security cameras and outdoor lighting to alarms and detectors, one of the most purchased technology upgrades, technology is well worth investing in.

“Technology is an obvious starting point when it comes to securing your home – and thanks to innovations in home security systems, consumers now have access to wireless and modular options at more affordable prices,” notes Harrison.

She says doorbell cameras are proving to be a popular choice, bought by one in 10 homeowners who are doing a renovation, so you can see who is approaching your home, wherever you are in the world. Smart systems that allow you to turn lights on and off from afar are also a good idea.

2. The Right Landscaping Can Be a Secret Weapon

“Burglars are running for cover, and your landscape can sometimes unintentionally provide this,” she warns.

“Large hedges and bushes around entry points provide criminals with an opportunity to break in.”

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To avoid this, Harrison suggests trimming all hedges to three feet or less, removing possible hiding places and increasing visibility to neighbors and pedestrians, which can help detect suspicious activity.

“Garden designers also recommend using gravel around windows, as the loud grinding can be enough of a deterrent to would-be burglars.” She continues. “Planting low, sharp and thorny shrubs can also help.”

3. Install emergency lighting

Harrison says it’s the top security purchase among renovation owners — and for good reason.

Available in a variety of styles to match your home’s aesthetic, she says motion-activated lights can deter would-be intruders and also help alert passersby to suspicious activity. In addition, they are relatively cost-effective and quick to install.

4. Secure your windows

Harrison notes: “Windows are a popular entry point for burglars, so it pays to secure them. Most windows have some kind of latch that can be easily opened if someone is willing to break the glass and reach in, so make sure all windows are equipped with a robust closing mechanism.

You may also want to think about your window treatments. She says many homeowners choose to close curtains or blinds to discourage potential burglars from looking in — but this can be a giveaway once the house is empty.

“Instead, designers recommend using sheer curtains in light linen – this helps block the view and also looks great all year round.”

5. Install a fence

Another entry point to consider is the garden, Harrison suggests. Especially if you go back to paths or access roads, which can provide potential burglars with a less-overlooked route in.

“It’s worth noting that without planning permission, any fence next to a road should be no more than three feet high,” Harrison says. With all other fencing, that is a maximum of two meters.”

“Landscape designers recommend opting for wood fencing with solid boarding, as it provides no foothold for intruders,” she adds.

And to further deter would-be burglars, she says topping with lightweight trellis and growing thorny plants, such as a thorny but pretty climbing rose.

6. The stronger the door, the better

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Most break-ins happen through a front or back door, so it may be worth considering upgrading an old door for a more secure option, Harrison advises.

“When you replace a door, you have to watch out for a door that has a multi-point lock, sturdy hinges and a high-quality cylinder,” she notes.

“Cylinders can often be weak points, so professionals recommend paying attention to the star rating system: three-star locks are the most robust option.

“And don’t forget to do a thorough checkup before you go,” she says. “To make sure all doors are safely secured and locked!”

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