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Effective home security tips for all South Africans in 2018

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
House Fyfe Modern houses by Swart & Associates Architects Modern
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The crime statistics of South Africa are enough to ensure sleepless nights for most of us, yet it’s not only our country that’s privy to break-ins, theft and other more horrendous crimes. And the first mistake you can make is implementing a mindset of “It only happens to other people”.

Fortunately, South African architects are no strangers to designing houses that effectively combine visual aesthetics with architectural touches to help keep homeowners safe and secure. 

And with the right attitude (“I need to keep myself and my family safe”) and these home security tips for doors, windows, yards and other areas, you and your family stand a much better chance of remaining burglar-free!

1. Home security tips: Choose the right alarm system

Fortunately, there are numerous alarm systems available.  

Sensors or beams in your home will trigger the alarm if any movement inside the house is sensed. These can be placed in certain areas of the home that you want protected. Additionally, you can set up your system in such a way that you can choose which sensors to activate and when, for example, having sensors on in your bedroom while you’re out, yet not while you’re sleeping.

Pet-friendly beams are also available, which are designed to either register the movement as being from something smaller than a human, or are positioned in such a way that they scan above the average height of a dog/cat.

Exterior beams are even more important in alerting you to potential intruders. By placing these in front of your doors and windows, you will be notified of any unwanted guests outside your home. 

Entry point sensors are vital to any alarm system. These are usually magnets or sensors placed on your windows and doors that will set off the alarm if they’re pulled apart. A bit of flexibility is allowed with these sensors, allowing you to open a window slightly to get some fresh air in, yet still stay protected.

2. Home security tips: Set up burglar bars

Considering how easy it is to break through the average window, these pose as one of the first points of entry intruders will try. This is exactly why so many different styles and types of bars are available to help secure your windows.

Fixed exterior bars, or Spanish burglar bars, can become a style feature on your windows, with the curved lines or decorative features still going a long way in protecting you. 

And there are many different ways of disguising interior burglar bars. Paint them to match either your window frame or the walls around them, providing you with extra security without giving your home that ‘prison’ look. 

Retractable burglar bars are ideal for uninterrupted views. It’s also recommended to have at least one retractable set in a bedroom, or on the side of the home where everyone sleeps.

3. Home security tips: Security gates

Modern Farmhouse - Silverlakes Nature Reserve Modern houses by Karel Keuler Architects Modern
Karel Keuler Architects

Modern Farmhouse—Silverlakes Nature Reserve

Karel Keuler Architects

It’s common sense that an extra line of defence on a home’s doors saves lives. A security gate is another physical barrier that an intruder needs to break through and often works as a deterrent to thieves looking for an easy target.

It’s advisable to consider the two-lock system: a gate with both a deadbolt and a spring-loaded lock. This option is a lot stronger than a spring-loaded lock and will be a lot more work to pick or break through. However, the spring-loaded lock allows you to slam the gate behind you and have it lock automatically in an emergency situation.

4. Home security tips: Physical security for your home

Studies show that it takes about three minutes for residents to be overpowered by robbers. Multiple security layers help keep them out, but physical barriers are your last line of defence. They are placed there permanently and don’t rely on you to remember to switch them on.

Trellidor franchises are among the most popular options in South Africa. They do a full-on security risk assessment of one’s property to find its weak points and advise on suitable barriers to fit a budget.  

If you can’t afford to secure all windows and doors of your home, choose the most vulnerable ones (like the ones leading to the bedrooms). Or combine a selection of barriers in different price ranges. Price generally indicates strength, so protect easily accessible openings with the strongest barriers, and the rest with less highly engineered versions.

And always remember to keep your security barriers locked at all times.

5. General home security tips to remember

  1. Test your alarm at least once a month and request the services of a technician immediately if your alarm is faulty. And remember to inform your security provider that you are putting your system into the Test mode. 
  2. Try to reduce foliage and bushes in the vicinity of your driveway, as these act as good hiding places for possible criminals. 
  3. Opt for automatic gates, as these allow you to stay in your vehicle while accessing your premises.  
  4. Create a safe area in your home by fitting a wrought-iron gate or an expanding grille gate into which you can retreat in an emergency. 
  5. Add an emergency number to the speed-dial function on your phone. 
  6. Choose a security company that immediately investigates your home upon the alarm going off, and who doesn’t first phone you to ask if everything is in order. 

The more you know, the better! See these 8 steps to keeping burglars out of your home.

What other home security tips can you share with us?
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