Is it just me, or do we spend more time worrying about the safety of our computers these days than the safety of our own homes? You’ve got firewalls and virus protection for your CPU, but have you changed your door locks since you moved into your house? Do you have ladders, tools, and other things lying around your yard that a burglar could use to break a window and access your home? Do you have an alarm system you never arm? Windows you leave open? Doors left unlocked? When was the last time you walked around your house and, thinking like a burglar, considered just how easy it would be to break in? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Let’s take a look at some smart security tips that can help make your home safer for you and your family. And guess what? Most of them are easier to implement than the security software loaded on your computer. First off, remember that in general burglars will avoid occupied houses. That doesn’t mean your family is always safe when they’re home, however. There always exceptions to the rule, and you shouldn’t assume that nothing can ever happen just because someone is there. If a burglar breaks in while you’re not there, your belongings are at risk. If a burglar breaks in when your family is home, your family is at risk as well. Now that I’ve got you thinking, let’s look at some measures you can follow in order to minimize the risk of being targeted.Keys: Don’t hand out keys to friends, even if they’re trustworthy. Make sure you know the location of all your house keys all the time. Never use hide-a-keys or leave the key under the doormat, above the door, in a flowerpot, or anywhere outside the house. You may think you’re being clever, but guess what? Burglars know all the tricks.

It’s their job to (however despicable).

Also, it’s a good idea to keep your car keys and house keys on a different ring if you ever use valet parking or leave your keys with parking lot attendants or even at a repair garage.Don’t let strangers in the house: Adults have no problem telling this rule to their kids, but they don’t realize it should apply to them too! Home security means being cautious. Even before you open the front door to accept a package, you should ask for photo identification. This goes for anyone you don’t recognize. Don’t assume someone is «legit» just because they are wearing a uniform or driving some company’s truck (these things can be stolen). If somebody comes to your door and asks to make a phone call, offer to make it for them, but don’t let them some inside. If someone looks like they’re injured, call 911, but don’t open the door. When you walk away to make that call, lock the door behind you; you don’t want to leave the door unlocked and unmanned. A chain on the door helps insure people can’t force their way in while you’re home.Locks: Keep your doors and windows locked, even if you’re at home. Get your children into this habit, too.

It’s too easy to forget an open window when you leave the house, and that provides an easy way in for burglars. Don’t assume a second story window is out of reach for a thief. They’re good at finding ways in.Don’t be predictable: If you always leave home at the same time every day and return at the same time, thieves can easily memorize your routine to take advantage of the times you’re not at home. Work is work, and you probably can’t change those hours, but if you always go to a class or the grocery store at the same time, try to make yourself less predictable. You can also consider automatic timers for your lights and electronics, to make it seem when someone is home, even when they’re not.Valuables shouldn’t be on display: I know you want to show off your hard-won plasma TV, but if somebody can look in your window and see your wallet, credit cards, purse, jewelry, or fancy electronics in open sight, they’re going to be tempted. A computer or television placed in front of a ground-floor window may make an easy target. Likewise, electronics placed across from a window are easily visible, too. In a similar vein, don’t leave your garage doors open for the world to see all the cool stuff you have in storage. Lightweight items could be snatched away quickly and easily.Be mindful of your trash: Just bought a new entertainment system? There’s no need to tell the world about it. A bunch of empty boxes out by the curb is an open invitation to would-be burglars. Instead of putting boxes out in plain sight, cut them down, and stuff them in trash bags. Also be wary of identity theft. Never put personal identification information in your trash until it’s been shredded.Be alert: Try to be aware of your surroundings on a day-to-day basis, even in your own neighborhood. This doesn’t mean walking around like a crazy paranoid person; just get in the habit of watching for suspicious activity.

Paying attention to the simple things can make you and your family much less of a target. Burglar alarms and home security systems are great investments, but common sense prevention is the best way to stay safe.Further resources:Home SecurityHome Security News