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Home Security Systems: How to Protect Your Home

Protecting one's home has been a preoccupation of homeowners for centuries; only the means of implementation have changed. Gone are the moats and ramparts replete with archers of yesteryear; the home security systems of today tend to be electronic in a rapid response scenario.
Still, the fact that the 911 emergency number has become as ubiquitous as running water has gotten many homeowners complacent regarding the security of their home and families. Given the spread of cell phones, even the old burglar ploy of stealthily cutting the phone wires holds little threat.

And you can't count on the police for round-the-clock protection. Don't get me wrong; local police do a spectacular job of patrolling and keeping the bad guys in the shadows, but they can give us a false sense of security.

Why? Because they can't be present to prevent all crimes. The fact of the matter is that the police are often the first responders after the fact. It's up to the homeowner to keep the bad guys out. 

Protect Yourself

Let's start with the most basic: locks. All exterior doors should have keyed passage locks as well as deadbolts. Chains are for the most part worthless. If you want to see who's on the other side of the door after the knock comes, install a peephole.

In fact, if you have children, install one at their eye level as well. It's a simple installation; all you need is an electric drill with a bit, and a screwdriver to assemble the barrel. All windows and sliding doors should have sturdy locks as well.

Lighting is the next item on the list. Remember when the "club" for locking car steering wheels burst onto the scene? They only slowed car thieves for a few minutes. So why did they work so well? Because a crook works the odds. He would rather move on down the parking lot until he finds one that's easier and quicker to steal.

Lighting works like that. Burglars attack under the cover of darkness where they can hide. Take away their cloak. Motion-detecting spotlights are particularly effective because they present the surprise factor.

Use Home Alarm Services

These services are a must-have. First, the alarm company will provide you with a sign to plant in your flower bed that's visible to the bad guys. This is the club concept once again: Burglar, pass by. Here is a sampling of some of the more prominent services.

  • Brinks Home Security -  According to Brinks' own site, they are rated a Consumers Digest best buy. Their prices start at $49 and the premium will run you $155. One of Brinks' conveniences is a one button turn-on, rather than requiring a sequence of button presses.

  • ADT Security Services – ADT is another service that one is likely to encounter in most areas of the country. One of the nice things ADT offers is a key chain that lets the homeowner arm and disarm the system anywhere in the home, not just at the panel. Their prices begin at $35.99 for basic service. The top package runs $44.99/month and features the proprietary Cellguard, which is a digital cellular back-up technology which connects your home panel to the command center.

  • GE Security is another provider of home security systems that offers an array of products for homes, businesses, construction sites, and multi-unit dwellings. It has many of the same features as the other offerings here.

  • Guardian Protection Services – Guardian is a subsidiary of Armstrong and its pitch is that it integrates burglary protection, fire protection, and personal emergency protection, rather than offering them separately (although they will). Their prices vary regionally.

  • Monitronics – Monitronics is smaller than the big boys mentioned above but they are growing rapidly. Although smaller, are they credible? You would thinks so; they were selected to provide security alarm systems for the G8 Conference, as they point out on their site. Prices vary regionally.

The upshot of all this is that the responsibility for home security lies on the shoulder of you, the homeowner. No police force in the country will be watching your doorstep 24/7. Luckily, technology has moved in to fill that void.

Kelly Smith is a former software engineer at NASA and a professional handyman who is now a full-time writer.

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