DIY Home Security: 100 Essential Tips, Tools, and Resources

Whether you live in a tiny apartment or a huge mansion, your house deserves to be protected. Even if you don’t have a lot of expensive gadgets lying around, you and your family, as well as your important papers and even online activity are vulnerable to hackers, burglars and other dangers. To make sure your family, your property and all of your belongings remain unharmed, be your own security professional with this ultimate list of 100 security tips and tools.

Cameras

Monitor trespassers and any suspicious activity going on around your property with these stealth video cameras.

  1. Night vision cameras: Night vision cameras will allow you to clearly monitor any trespassers or unwanted visitors around your property.
  2. Real-Time Security DVR: With a system like this one, you’ll be able to watch what your camera picks up on a TV monitor inside your home in real time.
  3. Car video camera: An experienced burglar might be checking your house for cameras, but they might not know about the one in your car.
  4. Baby monitor: Video and audio baby monitors can also serve as more cost effective home security solutions.
  5. Pan, tilt and zoom cameras: See more of your yard and around the corners of your house with pan, tilt and zoom cameras.
  6. Smoke detector camera: This smoke detector is a great guise for a hidden camera.
  7. Wireless camera: Make sure you’re using a wireless camera. Otherwise, you’ll give away too many clues and your camera will be useless.
  8. Video entry: If you don’t have a peep hole or can’t discreetly check to see who’s ringing the doorbell, use a video surveillance system like this one.
  9. Sprinkler Head Camera: Many yards have sprinkler systems, making it easy for a trespasser to miss this undercover camera.
  10. Dummy Security Camera: If you can’t afford a high-tech system, set up this imitation security camera to make criminals and trespassers nervous.

Lighting Solutions

These motion detectors and flood lights are great for scaring away potential burglars.

  1. Dual floodlight motion detectors: This motion detector turns on an outside light when it senses motion, which then triggers four lights inside your home to turn on as well.
  2. Floodlight Lamp: You don’t need a big security budget to set up this floodlight lamp and motion detector yourself.
  3. PIR floodlights: The British Institute of Lighting Engineers has issued this FAQ page and review of PIR (passive, infrared) floodlights.
  4. Low-voltage security lights: These lights are low-voltage and can be kept on all the time without running up your energy bill.

Monitoring and Alerts

From driveway sensors to voice alert systems and glass breaking sensors, these monitoring devices will alert you to any atypical activity going on inside or outside your home.

  1. Wireless Annunciator System: This voice alert system records your voice messages and plays them whenever it senses movement in your driveway, backyard or patio.
  2. Driveway Sensor: This sensor sends off a chime whenever someone comes up your driveway, letting you know someone’s arrived.
  3. Door Motion Sensors: This camera is also a motion detector and will let you see and hear whomever is at the door.
  4. ActiveHome Pro: This cost effective home automation system allows you to automate lights and more.
  5. Glass break sensor: This system alerts you when someone breaks your windows or kicks in a door.
  6. Infrared Motion Sensors: If you don’t have pets or a sleepwalker in your home, an infrared motion sensor can be a good solution.

Computer and Network Security

Protect your online activity, stored history and important computer data with these tips and tools.

  1. Anti-Virus: Particularly if you’re a Windows user, an anti-virus system is vital for keeping your data safe and computer running smoothly.
  2. Use a secure browser: Secure browsers like Firefox come with anti-malware and anti-phishing systems that protect your online activity.
  3. Get a spam filter: A spam filter on your e-mail can remove some of the temptation or accidental opening of the worst junk mail.
  4. Get a secure e-mail account: Make sure your e-mail provider scans attachments for viruses, and sign up for an encryption service if you need it.
  5. Use firewalls: Firewalls are vital to computer security.
  6. Password protect your wireless account: If you use wireless in your home, password protect the account so your neighbors can’t log on.
  7. Use strong passwords: Learn how to create strong passwords, and don’t use the same one for every account.
  8. Sign out: Sign out of online bank accounts and e-mail instead of just closing the window.
  9. File encryption: Encrypt your important files so that even if someone does hack onto your computer, they won’t be able to read anything.
  10. Use patches: Patches keep software programs and security systems on your computer strong and updated.
  11. Understand your risk and the warning signs: By understanding the signs of a hacker or a weak system, you’ll be able to fix things more quickly.
  12. Beware of rogue security software: Don’t download a security update just because you got an e-mail from someone who seems authoritative. Do a background check on any product before you install it.
  13. Managing Cookies Site-by-Site: Limit the amount and type of websites that store your personal information by managing cookies site-by-site.
  14. Disable hidden filename extensions: If your operating system will allow you to do so, disable hidden filename extensions for added security.
  15. Install updates: Install the automatic updates you get from your computer and anti-virus system.
  16. Back up your computer: Back up your data with USB drives, and other tools.

Out of Town Security

When you’re out of town or at work all day, your home is especially vulnerable. Follow these tips and consider arming your home with the following tools before you leave the house.

  1. USB Security Camera: A security camera like this one is operated from your computer and will send you alerts whenever it detects motion.
  2. Remote video surveillance: A monitoring system like this one will watch your property 24/7 even if you’re not there to check up on it.
  3. FakeTV: This light mimics "the effects of scene changes, fades, swells, flicks, on-screen motion" and more from a TV, making it look like someone’s at home.
  4. Mini timers: This tool turns four different lights on and off inside your home according to a preset clock.
  5. Motion Activated Driveway Light: You can opt to turn on the alarm which will sound when the motion detector also turns on the lights.
  6. Fake soiled underpants: If you still don’t feel safe leaving your valuables at home, stash your extra cash in these fake, smelly, soiled underpants in your laundry room.
  7. Instant motion activated video: This video can be installed anywhere and can capture over 8,000 frames.
  8. Web connected security systems: Access your security system remotely with tools that are web-based.
  9. Security television simulator: Here is another security tool that simulates a television.
  10. Acoustic sensors: If you aren’t leaving any pets at home while you go on vacation, use an acoustic sensor to pick up an noises that occur when you’re gone.

Everyday Tips

From talking to your kids to knowing where to keep your spare key, these tips from security professionals are a must for everyday security.

  1. Lock your doors and windows: This is one of the most obvious tips, but an unlocked door or window can leave your house more vulnerable than any other slip-up.
  2. Get an alarm: Any kind of alarm will work. Set it before you go to bed and whenever you leave the house.
  3. Talk to your kids about home security: Never let them open the door for anyone they don’t know, and ask them to help you check the doors and windows each night.
  4. Get a gate or fence: Put up a gate and a fence around your yard to protect you and your family from stray dogs and any unwanted visitors.
  5. Install mirrors: Security mirrors let you see around corners so that you won’t be surprised by someone waiting at your door or down the driveway.
  6. Get a safe: This fingerprint-activated safe will keep your most precious papers and belongings locked up even if someone does manage to break into your house.
  7. Don’t leave a spare key under the mat or in your mailbox: Everyone knows this trick by now, so a burglar will look in those places first if he or she wants to get in.
  8. Never open the door for someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting: If a worker has already scheduled an appointment, make sure he or she is wearing the appropriate uniform and has a name tag or some sort of proper identification.
  9. Get a dog: Dogs are great for home security: even if they aren’t aggressive, their presence can make burglars uneasy.
  10. Know your neighbors: If you and your neighbors talk regularly and can recognize your friends or other frequent visitors, they’ll be more likely to call the police if something seems wrong at your house.

Windows, Locks and Doors

Keep windows, locks and doors impenetrable with these tips and tools.

  1. Window Security Bars: Bars are more old fashioned but still effective. Install bars that can be unlocked in case your family needs to get out in an emergency.
  2. Magnetic detection: Magnetic detection devices pick up any breakage of an electric circuit or metallic tape when a window is broken or door is kicked in.
  3. Garage door alert: This system alerts you when your garage door is open.
  4. Change locks if your safety is compromised: If someone in your family has been mugged or lost their wallet and a key, change all of your locks.
  5. Locks, Latches and Other Deterrents: This guide has plenty of advice and even an illustrated DIY to help you select and install the proper locks and latches.

Alarms

Here you can learn about the different types of alarms your home can use, from door alarms to perimeter protection to carbon monoxide detectors.

  1. Perimeter Protection: Protect your entire yard with invisible beams that trigger an alarm when crossed.
  2. Indoor Sirens: Ask for a 30-watt siren that can be heard outside the home, even if all the doors and windows are shut.
  3. Carbon monoxide detector: Keep your family safe from the odorless poison with a carbon monoxide detector.
  4. Alarm monitoring service: Get an alarm that connects you to a monitoring service, which can call 911 for you or cancel the alarm if it went off by accident.
  5. Door alarms: These are some of the most common types of alarms, and they go off when opened.
  6. Pool alarms: Keep your kids and trespassers safe from drowning with a pool alarm or sensor.
  7. Alarm backup batteries: Always make sure your batteries are charged or new before going out of town.
  8. Voice auto dialers: These add-ons will automatically call the phone numbers of your choice whenever an alarm goes off.

Basements, Shelters and Safe Houses

Seal off your basement and consider constructing a safe room or storm shelter if you feel especially vulnerable in your home.

  1. Secure Steel Safe Room: This guide discusses the different types of safe rooms and how you can make them.
  2. Preparing a Safe Room: FEMA lists instructions and tips for building a safe room.
  3. Flood Sensor: The Flood Sensor notifies you when flood waters seep into your basement or when a water heater or washing machine starts to leak.
  4. Hidden Doors: A safe room isn’t much good if a criminal can find it easily. Learn about hidden doors here.
  5. Sliding Pocket Door: This type of door is supposed to be the "fastest possible entry time during [an] emergency."
  6. Tornado Safe Room: Here you’ll learn about stocking and building a safe room that can withstand a tornado.
  7. Safe Room or Panic Room: Learn about safe rooms and stocking panic rooms here.
  8. Building a Safe Room: This guide explains why safe rooms are a good idea.

Home Maintenance

If your home is falling apart, it won’t be hard for a burglar to break in. Keep your home in solid shape with these DIY home maintenance tips and tools.

  1. How to Evaluate Home Security Needs: Before you start, you’ll need to evaluate your home’s risk factors and security needs.
  2. Garage door: Make sure your garage door can be opened and closed quickly. Also check the locks and keep track of automatic openers.
  3. Check locks: Check your window and door locks to make sure they aren’t broken and can be opened easily in case of an emergency.
  4. Basement: Make sure any entrances into your basement are just as secure as the rest of the house, even if they’re hidden.
  5. Roof: Patch shingles and evaluate any cracks or weak spots in your roof.
  6. Repair the fence: If your fence can be knocked down easily or was damaged in a storm, your house might seem like an easy target to an intruder.

Neighbors

Make a point to know your neighbors and ask them for help when you go out of town.

  1. Ask a neighbor to pick up your newspapers when you’re out of town: A pile of newspapers on your driveway is the easiest way for a stranger to know you’re out of town.
  2. Ask neighbors to take packages inside during the day: If you’re expecting an important or expensive package to be delivered while you’re at work, ask a neighbor who’s at home during the day to pick it up for you.
  3. Save your neighbors’ phone numbers: Before you go on vacation, enter your neighbors’ phone numbers into your cell phone in case you need them to check up on your house while you’re gone.
  4. Watch out for your neighbors: The more you watch out for your neighbors’ safety and security, the more likely they’ll do the same for you.

Articles and Guides

These articles and guides can teach you even more about home security.

  1. Monitored Home Security Systems: When shopping around for a monitored home security system, review this checklist to make sure the alarm will work for all kinds of emergencies.
  2. Home Security: Fake devices might do the job inexpensively: If you want to up the security just a little at your home but can’t afford any major systems, use dummy alarms and fake tools to deter burglars.
  3. Security Alarm Systems: State Farm’s guide to security alarm systems answers questions about what your system should include and more.
  4. Apartment Security: This guide helps those who live in apartments protect themselves against burglaries.
  5. Burglary Prevention Advice: Get home security tips for your doors and locks, sliding-glass patio doors, and more.
  6. Home Security Tips: Here you’ll learn how a spring-latch lock is vulnerable against experienced burglars and other helpful tips.
  7. Home-Security Tips: The Discovery Channel’s tips cover alarms, locks, the yard, and even the garage.
  8. Tips for Cleaning and Securing Your Website: If you have your own website, learn how to take care of it and keep your information and your customers’ data secure.
  9. Should I Install a Home Security System?: Insurance.com helps homeowners decide whether or not they need to invest in a home security system.
  10. It Takes a Thief Interactive: Find all the vulnerable hot spots around the house to learn more about home security.
  11. Home Security Tips: Tips listed here include trim the hedges, make your mark, and lock up.
  12. How to Install Burglar Alarms: Read this guide to learn about alarm installation before you attempt it yourself.
  13. Benefits of Wireless Alarm Systems: Here you’ll learn why wireless alarm systems are great for saving money and time during your set up.
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