The ISG home security audit that follows is designed to identify security risks and provide individuals with basic personal security recommendations that can be used to protect them and their homes. This audit was created as the answer to a request from our Patreon community for an actionable, detailed list of checks for their home security. Please give it a look. The article differs from most in that it's designed to be printed and used as a 'walk through' tool with which you can assess points of weakness or vulnerability in your home security.
- Does the mailbox/gate call box/front of home identify the residents? This is an easy one. Don't make it easy for someone to find which place is yours. Extra consideration is needed with call boxes at apartment complexes or gated communities, make sure it does not display your house number or the phone number it will ring. If there is no way around the box displaying the number it is calling, use a google voice number or other means of call forwarding.
- Do you have perimeter lighting? This is a big one. It is important that if you have a yard it is illuminated at night fully without shadows. Not only does light create a "wall", but it makes it easy for you to survey the exterior without having to use a light that identifies where you're at.
Remember: If there's more light outside than in, you can't see in. If there's more light inside than out, you can't see out.
Install motion detector lights for interior and exterior protection. Outside motion detector lights can be installed to automatically turn on interior lights, giving the impression someone has entered a room, at the same time the outside lights turn on. Do not use constant on lights outdoors unless above an entryway, this just looks like you left your lights on and will not notify yourself or neighbors when motion is detected in the yard.
- Does the home have an attached garage? Whenever possible, park vehicles in the garage. Always enter the vehicle from inside the garage. Always keep the garage doors closed and locked when not in use. In order to limit your exposure outside the vehicle during the hours of darkness, install an automatic garage door opener and make sure all family members know how to operate the garage door manually in the event of an emergency. Ensure that the door from the garage into the main house itself is a solid core door with a deadbolt locking device. If there is a vehicle parked outside, make sure the area is well-lighted. If at all possible, have a remote starter installed in all vehicles, especially if they are parked outside. This device will allow you to start your vehicle from a safe distance. If you want to have even more security. Have a monitor in the garage displaying what a external camera sees outside of the garage. This way when you are in or out of your car you can see what awaits you. Also, ALWAYS BACK YOUR VEHICLE IN.
- Do all perimeter doors provide protection from intruders? This is a huge one. All perimeter doors should be solid core wood or steel with a deadbolt lock, in addition to any other locking device.The door should have a peep hole or security camera system installed to view any visitors prior to granting access to the home. No glass should be on the door that can be broken to gain entry. It is important that a three-inch strike plate for screws be installed in all entry doors. Be sure to secure sliding glass doors with pins to prevent both horizontal and vertical movement, especially when the home is left vacant for an extended period of time. Sliding glass doors should be hung so that the sliding door is mounted on the inside. The door should be reinforced with a “jimmy-proof” bar to prevent forced entry. Sliding glass doors are the weakest link in most homes... either forgo them and get french doors or light them up and put alarm sensors on them. Re-key or replace locks if keys are lost or stolen or if you move into a previously occupied residence. Make sure that you follow strict key control with keys used to access the home. DO NOT LEAVE KEYS OUTSIDE UNDER ROCKS OR HIDDEN.
- Do you have trees and shrubs that are overgrown to the point where they block easy view from within? Trim or remove trees that may provide access to upper floor windows or balconies, and make sure trees or shrubs do not block a clear view of entries and windows from the street. When selecting shrubbery or plants for this try and find things with thorns.
- Does the home have outbuildings (detached garage, pool house,storage buildings) located on the property? If so, Include all outbuildings into the main security system. Install quality commercial locks on the buildings.
- Are your locks adequate? See our article on Non Destructive Bypass and think like you are breaking in. Make your job as hard as possible. ONLY use quality commercial locks. No Kwikset, schlage, masterlock, etc etc. High security locks will defeat almost all pick attempts and drilling. There are lock suggestions inside that article linked above. Another security upgrade for your home is to make sure the deadbolts that are on doors with glass do not have a knob but instead require a key on both sides.
- Are your windows or sliding glass doors locked? Windows are one of the easiest ways into a home for a burglar. Not only are they frequently forgotten and left unlocked, they're easy to break in order to gain access to the home. A significant number of break-ins occur through windows. Make sure yours don't make the thief's life easy.
- Do all windows have adequate window coverings? Windows should be equipped with internal blinds,curtains, drapes, or shutters to prevent someone from seeing inside. Tint is great for daytime but becomes useless at night. Seek curtains or blinds that can be closed in the evening.
- Does the home have louver-type windows? Louvre windows should be replaced with solid windows made with tempered or shatterproof material.
- Can the interior of the home be accessed through windows or other openings from the second floor or roof? All second floor windows and roof skylights must be secured to prevent access by intruders who could use drainpipes and other means to access the roof or upper floors.
- Is the exterior door leading from the basement to the upper floor made of solid core and equipped with a deadbolt lock? As with other exterior doors in the home, it is important that the basement door be of solid core wood or steel construction and equipped with a quality deadbolt lock to prevent entry by intruders.
- Do you have smoke/heat detectors installed throughout the home? Smoke alarms and heat detectors should be installed throughout the home. They should be hard-wired into the home's electrical system with a battery backup in the event of a power failure. In addition, install and maintain all-purpose fire extinguishers throughout the home, especially in the kitchen. Establish and periodically test fire evacuation procedures for all family members.
- Does the home have an anti-intrusion alarm system? Consider installing an anti-intrusion alarm system in the home that is tied into the local police department or a certified central alarm monitoring organization. Instruct family members on the operation of the system. Consider installing a local enunciation system or siren. The advantage of a siren is to alert neighbors to notify authorities, should the direct-connect alarm lines be compromised. As an added security measure, alarm systems can be customized to provide monitoring for fire, medical alert, and closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance of home exterior.
- Do you have designated Areas? Especially for people with kids, having designated areas where you can hold up and notify police while defending your family is important. Sleeping arrangements where you're on the same floorpan help. Being able to hold an area and challenge any trespassers is crucial in making good decisions under pressure. As we discuss often, have a method of positively identifying and challenging a person who's entered your home.
If your attitude is "if you come into MY house, you're dead", this is the wrong page for you. Mainly because we don't want your home to become a prison cell for the next 5-15 years because you committed an act of voluntary manslaughter. Walk your house and identify choke points, such as hallways and stairwells. Plan for how you'll get to your children if you have them and be ready with a plan to identify and challenge someone if they do enter. These things happen fast, so rehearse.
Using Technology to Increase Security Efficiency
There are many options out there to help you secure your home, automate procedures, and keep an eye on things. However there are a few things to be mindful of when bringing technology into the fold. CCTV systems are incredible for not only catching criminals but also deterring them. Here's a few things to avoid.
- Do not mount cameras under 12 feet. Keep them out of reach of a basketball player or a short dude with a stick. Make sure they are rated for the environment they are in and not near anything someone can climb to access them.
- Avoid wireless cameras systems. Not only are they not reliable they also pose a risk by being used against you. Your wifi camera is only as strong as your network and wifi is not secure, and nor is your cameras and can provide back door to your network.
- China is not your friend. Avoid the cheap camera systems at all costs. They do not work even remotely reliably and you will be replacing them within a few years. Also, you cant make a face out past 10 feet in the daytime usually.
If life has taught us anything, it's that most scores come from someone running their mouth about what they've got. Especially if it's something that a thief has an interest in or knows has a high dollar value on the black market. This means electronics, guns, cash and precious metals, and jewelry. It also means drugs, so watch what company you keep. Keep a habit: Don't talk about any of your wealth, ever.
- Online Persona: Do you post about your guns, money, cars, or gadgets on social media? If so, know that you're broadcasting that you have stuff worth stealing. Set your profiles to private. Be an information receiver, not an information giver.
- Do you keep personal information off the internet? This is a tough one these days, but in as much as possible, don't take pictures with your home in the background. Don't let your address slip. Don't tag your location or give specifics about the town you live in.
- Family: This is a big one that most of us don't really have to worry about just now. However, in certain countries (Latin American countries, in particular) kidnapping the children of people seen as wealthy is a major score for syndicated criminals. Don't post pictures of your children publicly. Don't talk about them on social media or other online venues. Don't even complain about your wife, which you shouldn't do anyway. Consider how changes in society might make you vulnerable if a massive economic collapse were to set on; would you want this information available to anyone with a WiFi connection?
There are a few other things that are immediately actionable. As a part of your home security checklist, also consider the following:
- A fire protection plan: Do you have extinguishers rated for structure and kitchen fires accessible on each floor of your home? Do you have a plan for getting out of the home? If you have children, do they know how to escape if there's a fire? How about if there is bad weather; do you have a plan for that?
- A load-out plan for your vehicles: If you don't have one already, consider a clip board with a checklist to hang near whatever your 'get going' vehicle is. On it, have responsibilities for each member of your family and the items they should be grabbing and loading. A great way to practice this is going out camping and involving your family in the loading of your vehicle. After a few attempts, you'll know how to pack so that the vehicle resembles our "lines of equipment"; the easiest to access items are the ones most needed in Type I emergencies on the roads, while items to help you address the Type II (such as local wildfires or flooding) can stay in the vehicle. Please remember that rivers at flood stage are not to be messed with. If you don't know the depth and speed, don't mess with it.
- Keep Vehicles Ready: Don't let your vehicle get below a half of a tank of fuel. Have some spare fuel available. Keep your rig in good running order and mechanically as close to 100% as you can in an entropic universe. Keep spare spark plugs (or glow plugs), belts, oil filters and oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and consumable parts on hand. Have a maintenance schedule and keep it up. Your vehicle is part of your castle.
- A plan for home invasions: Set up safe points and positions from which you have all the advantages as a defender. Consider placing flood lights that can conceal your location and blind invaders in the interior of your home in select locations. Have a plan to contact police - but remember not to discuss the specifics of what happened with them. Remember that issues of over penetration of from your firearms can be largely addressed by establishing these points. Try and ensure your "hold up" spots create fields of fire that won't cause collateral damage.
Take some time to walk around your home tonight and see where you are at in regards to security. You might be surprised. Print out this article and treat it like a checklist, how did you do?