Home Security Checklist Challenge

Home security is a fairly robust term, encompassing your household’s entire spectrum of security hardware and personal security practices. The former includes everything from doors and locks to alarm systems and lighting while the latter addresses practices such as ensuring entries are locked, alarms are activated, windows are closed, and so forth. When you bring it all together you will have peace of mind, which is why it’s important to take a home security checklist challenge.

Home security checklist challenges have been around for a long time but as the world we live in changes so do the demands for greater safeguards. Today, Park Insurance is here with an updated checklist to protect your home, its occupants, and possessions for the impending threats of modern times.

Ultimate 16-Step Home Security Checklist to Keep Your Household Safe Into 2020 and Beyond

1. Do Your doors all have deadbolts?

You should have deadbolts installed on all of your exterior facing doors, and they must be of the upmost quality. Many experts will point to the deadbolt throw (bolt portion of the lock) as being the most important component, but Consumer Reports states that the strike plate (metal ring that holds the throw in a doorjamb) is typically the greatest design flaw in deadbolts. View Consumer Reports’ 2019 list of the five best (and five worst) deadbolt locks before heading to your nearest home retailer.

2. HAVE You REINFORCED ALL ACCESSIBLE WINDOWS?

Many homeowners reinforce the windows within a literal arm’s length of doors, given that if broken an intruder can reach for the interior door lock. While you should certainly prioritize these entryways, any and all accessible windows should be reinforced, including those that can be reached from a ladder. This includes basement, main floor, and second level windows, as applicable. A combination of security shutters and/or polycarbonate panels will do the job.

In addition, install hinged wedge locks, folding locks, or keyed sash locks on common double-hung window sashes (those that move up and down). For casement windows (awning style) consider installing a chain lock (the same type used on doors) to limit the distance the window will open if the operator cranking system is compromised.

3. HAVE YOU REINFORCED SLIDING DOORS?

Sliding doors also need to be secured, but most homeowners assume the manufacturer’s lock will suffice. It doesn’t.

For one, the space at the top of the door’s sliding track can be lifted out of position, which allows an intruder to slide the door open without employing the track. To prevent this, insert woodscrews in the upper track of the sliding doors (while in the closed position), as this will prevent burglars from lifting the door up and over. In addition, use a security bar to keep the door from sliding after a lock has been compromised. If you can’t find a custom-fit security bar a sturdy sawed-off broom handle or hockey stick will do just fine.

4. can outsiders see everything inside your home?

Stores that sell expensive products remove them from their window displays during closing hours to prevent theft. Consider your house in the same way. If people on the outside (criminals included) have a wide open view of what’s within, including electronics and other valuables, they are more likely to attempt a break-in. If they can see whether or not someone is home, the risk of a break-in (when vacant) increases further. Step outside after reading this and have a look. If your home is an open-book, take action. Use shutters, curtains, plants (interior and exterior) and other furnishings to obstruct the outward-in view.

5. HAVE YOU SECURED THE GARAGE DOOR?

If attached to your home where there is an interior entrance you need to treat your garage as you would any other room in the house with an exterior entry. Deadbolt the entrance door and have your garage door (where your car enters/exits) and locking system inspected to ensure that it will hold up to brute force. In addition, don’t store valuables (aside from your vehicle) in the garage, and keep power tools in the basement because if the garage is compromised intruders can use these tools to gain entry into the residence.

6. Do You HAVE A TIMER SYSTEM SET FOR LIGHTS?

Most modern homes have timer-based lighting systems. Make sure you use them when away at night and when away on vacation. If you don’t have one, install one as this is a very effective means to keeping intruders away from a vacated home.

7. HAVE YOU INSTALLED An up to date SECURITY SYSTEM?

Beyond lighting, every modern home should have a security system that leverages hardware installations and web-connected software to monitor and maintain the sanctity of the abode. Ideally you would have cameras visible at the exterior points of entry, but if the investment is too big at least consider opting for a new monitored alarm system. And don’t forget to place the manufacturer / security-subscription stickers on all sides of your home, as even these are effective deterrents against common criminals.

8. Do You HAVE SOMEONE TO MAINTAIN THE LANDSCAPE WHEN AWAY?

You know to mow and water the lawn and trim hedges in the days leading up to a trip, but when you’re gone for an extended period of time you need backup. Connect to a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member and call in a favor. By having them maintain your landscape while away you will give the appearance that someone is home.

9. Do You HAVE SOMEONE TO STOP BY WHEN AWAY?

If you can, have your trusted “landscaper” also pick up the mail from the mailbox or front porch so that it doesn’t pile up and give away the fact that you have not been home for quite some time. By having someone with a key stop by and do this duty you also show activity in and around the house, which is yet another deterrent to break-ins and property damage.

10. DO YOU INSTITUTE SOCIAL MEDIA BLACKOUT WHEN AWAY?

Back in the day a home security checklist challenge would ask you to avoid leaving outbound messages on your answering machine to indicate that you are on vacation or at work. Here is 2019-20, it’s social media that often gives household vacancies away. When taking a weekend or longer trip, don’t let the information slip on your social networks, no matter how much you want to boast. Make sure everyone in your home follows our 5-step guide to maintaining social media activity when on vacation.

11. HAVE YOU JOINED A block WATCH?

In some communities it’s called a Neighborhood Watch, while here in BC it’s known as Block Watch, but the concept is all the same:

“The main objective of the Block Watch Society of BC is to partner with communities to build safer neighborhoods by encouraging residents to take a proactive approach to crime prevention and safety. Through education on target hardening, property marking and reporting suspicious activity Block Watch provides a means for the community to take responsibility for its own safety by reducing the opportunity for crime.” 

Find out if there is a Block Watch initiative in your community and join, or start one if needed. Learn more about how to get involved.

12. do you have your own wi-fi router?

We’ve addressed the age-old “brick and mortar” stuff above, but as we head for 2020 you need to take stock of the cyber security of your home. This all begins with the Wi-Fi router. A more secure smart home starts with your router as it’s the foundation of what connects all of your web-connected devices and makes them operable. At the same time, it’s the gateway for cybercriminals.

Whether you get your router from your internet provider or independent source, review the privacy policy to see if the provider stores your data and/or provides it to a third party. Also check that security updates are enabled so that you don’t have to monitor for updates and perform them manually. In addition, rename your router so that it does not give away your address.

13. Do You Have Encrypted WiFi?

Go to your router settings and Wi-Fi network access to activate a strong encryption method such as WPA2 and change your password (using a combination of letters and characters) every three to six months for good measure. This will help keep your network and communications secure. In addition, you can keep your Wi-Fi account private while still allowing access to visiting friends, relatives, and clients (for home businesses) by setting up a separate guest network. Just make sure this network does not tie into your IoT (internet of things) devices. More on this below.

14. HAVE You INSTALLED SECURITY SOFTWARE ON YOUR IOT DEVICES?

While having a more secure router and Wi-Fi network will help protect the IoT you use in your home, you will want to make sure that these devices (lighting and security systems, appliances, home entertainment systems, voice assistants, etc.) have the latest manufacturer security software installed, and that the software automatically updates when new security patches are introduced to combat new strains of malicious code. If you have all of your devices installed by a service provider (i.e. BestBuy, etc.) get in touch with them to inquire about what we’ve stated here. Or, if you put together your own piecemeal solution, check with each IoT product’s manufacturer to ensure the same. When connecting IoT to your mobile apps, be sure set the app to automatically update on your mobile devices as well.

15. have You taken an inventory of your possessions?

Data shows that approximately 65% of you will answer “no” to this question. This is very unfortunate, because without an updated inventory, you may find it more challenging to recoup all your losses after a break-in. Start taking an inventory of your possessions today, and feel free to reference our guide to the top home inventory apps to make it as seamless as possible.

16. HAVE You UPDATED YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS?

The last question in the challenge is the most important of all because despite all of your home security measures there remains a reasonable chance that over the years, your British Columbia home will be broken into. Take a local Greater Vancouver community for example, where at press, there is a 65% increase (over the 5-year average) in burglaries. In fact, BC shares the unfortunate honor (with Saskatchewan) in having the highest average burglary rates among all Canadian provinces. While you must absolutely check all of the boxes for the 15-points above, take this last one to heart by updating your homeowners insurance (or tenants insurance) right away. In addition, don’t let 6 months go by without a follow-up policy review because your circumstances or riders may have changed.

Contact Park Insurance to schedule a consultation with an independent broker today. Only then will you truly complete the ultimate home security checklist challenge.