Man punching numbers into the keypad on a house alarm

Home Security Month - Switcher.ie's top tips on making your home safer

It's a good time to review security in your home.

In the UK, every October is National Home Security Month, which is a month urging consumers to keep their family, possessions and home safe by creating awareness around the importance of home security.

According to the CSO, there was a 3.3% increase in burglaries and related offences nationwide in Ireland in 2017, so home security is definitely something that Irish consumers should be thinking about too, especially as we head into the darker winter months.

It’s also important to think about home safety at this stage, when we’re using gas and solid fuel heating more in the home. Here are some top tips:

Ensure it looks like there’s someone home

According to An Garda Síochána, the majority of burglaries take place in unoccupied homes, with burglars looking out for homes with things like:

  • no lights on at night, or lights on constantly during the day;
  • blinds/curtains pulled during the day; and/or
  • a build-up of papers and/or flyers in the letter box.

In terms of lighting, using timer plugs to set timers for lamps to make sure they’re not left on unnecessarily and to ensure there’s light in the main rooms in the evenings - even when you’re not home - is a good idea. They stock them in Woodies starting at around €7.

You could also look at getting a sensor light (which turns on when someone comes into its proximity) for your front and/or back garden - Lights.ie has a huge selection to choose from.

The recommendation from the Gardaí when installing security lighting is to place it so it avoids the creation of shadows and dark areas, and to aim for a uniform light level. If you’re installing a light that you can turn on and off - rather than a sensor - you should be careful to place the light switch out of reach.

Make sure you secure the outside of your home

Again, the Gardaí say most burglars are opportunists, so it’s best to make sure all windows are closed and external doors are locked.

You should also make sure you secure any side or back entrances to your home, for example gates, and it’s really important that you don’t leave spare keys ‘hidden’ somewhere outside the property, as they could easily be found.

In terms of locks, it’s worth going for decent ones to ensure your home is secure - and you might even get a discount on your home insurance for installing security locks. If you have sturdy doors, but don’t have security locks, try contacting a locksmith - for example Locksmiths 24/7 - to see if they can upgrade the cylinders in your doors to improve the locks.

If you have older wooden doors, improving the locks may not make too much of a difference, but you could install security chains and a deadbolt inside to make them more secure.

If you decide to replace your doors, you should consider ones that meet the Irish & EU Burglar Resistant Security Standard - IS EN 1627:2011.

Install a house alarm

The Gardaí say that alarms are a back up to good physical security, so it’s worth sorting your windows and doors first. Once that’s done, installing a house alarm can be another useful deterrent - and, if someone does try to break in, the noise of the alarm will alert you.

These days, there are all sorts of ‘Smart Security’ options you can get - such as systems that can notify first responders, depending on the type of emergency or security situation, which will help in getting the right kind of intervention for a particular security threat. Locksmiths 24/7 has loads of information - and a useful infographic - on your options in relation to this.

You could also opt for a monitored alarm from the likes of Home Secure or Phone Watch. With these systems, you pay the upfront installation, followed by a monthly fee for the monitoring service, which makes them considerably more expensive than traditional alarms. However, you’ll get benefits like:

  • monitored security with emergency services dispatch 24/7, every day of the year;
  • visual confirmation of a break-in if your alarm has motion sensors with cameras installed; and
  • smoke and carbon monoxide alarm monitoring.

If you don’t need a monitored alarm, there are still loads of more traditional options - you can go for a wireless or wired alarm, which a variety of different sensors, depending on whether you want perimeter protection, motion detection, or a combination of both.

Safety inside your home

Most people who are thinking about home security tend to consider protecting the home from the outside. However, it’s important to remember to keep your home safe on the inside too.

It’s really important to make sure you have smoke alarms installed and that you test them regularly to ensure they’re working. You should also protect yourself against the dangers of Carbon Monoxide by:

  • getting all of your gas appliances serviced and checked on an annual basis;
  • fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm; and
  • making sure your home is well-ventilated.

On top of this, if you have an open fire, or a stove in your home that burns solid fuel, make sure the chimney is swept each year.

Protect your home from the dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Have a secure home? Make sure your home insurance provider knows

Lots of the home security measures mentioned here, like having security locks, an alarm and working smoke alarms, can land you a decent discount on your home insurance policy. So, if you’ve made any security improvements to your home since you took out your policy, make sure to contact your insurer and let them know.

You can read more about Home Security Month on www.homesecuritymonth.com.