Safe as Houses: Windows…Are Yours Secure?


Conventional wisdom tells us that most burglaries are crimes of opportunity; don’t provide any opportunities and you’ll be vastly improving your odds. With most crooks being relatively unsophisticated, the favored ways to get inside your home are the same ones you use – external doors and windows.

Assuming you’ve secured your doors and their locks, it’s time to check out the windows in your home. Windows are usually a weak link when it comes to residential security; they can be pried out of the frame, lifted from their tracks, have the panes removed or just be broken. But, the good news is there are numerous ways to improve their security.


Questions to Ask

You should apply that old adage, “think like a burglar” when trying to better security in and around your home. There are numerous ways to increase the security of windows but in order to know what needs to be done, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How security effective is the window design?
  • What weak points could be used to open the window?
  • Can it be reached from the ground, garage, porch, roof, tree, fire escape, ledge or balcony, etc.?
  • Is the glass shatter resistant?
  • What is the condition of the sash and frame?
  • Are the  locks working and are they currently locked?
  • Are the windows clearly visible from the yard, pavement or street or are they covered by bushes or privacy screens.


Locks, Latches and Pins

The simplest and most nontechnical solution is that any window not used as a fire exit, can be nailed, screwed or otherwise fixed closed or have bars or grill work added to it. Fixed picture windows, vision panels and skylights can’t be opened, providing good security. Breaking windows like these, takes too much time and causes a lot of noise, two things most thieves try to avoid.

Any windows that need to open in case of fire have to be secured with other methods. For example horizontal or vertical sliding windows can be protected with a removable nail or metal pin. Key-less latches can be secured by putting a removable pin in a hole drilled through the latch. Otherwise, existing latches can be replaced with a keyed latch set and the same goes for awning and casement windows.

Semi-sashed or sashless windows can be jammed closed with a piece of wood fitted neatly into the bottom track. This will obstruct sliding and a small screw in the top track will stop the window from being lifted.

Basement windows can also be secured by using grill-work, guards and bar mechanisms but there should always be one that can be opened for possible escape in case of fire. For the same reason, all basement windows in bedroom areas should work and be able to be opened from inside.


Reinforced Glass

There are several ways to reinforce glass windows with secure materials. Tempered glass, is much stronger than traditional glass and consequently more difficult to break. Laminated glass, also known as safety glass, is another good option for your home’s windows. Shatter resistant film makes glass extremely hard to break. Glass can also be replaced with high impact acrylic that can survive attack without breaking unless extreme force is used.


Window Alarms

There are several types of window alarms on the market today. From a simple sensor that sounds an alarm when a window is opened or broken to a more complicated system that remotely monitors your windows and alerts you when motion is detected or if a window is left open at night.

All these precautions can help but nothing can beat a home alarm system that can safeguard all your windows and provides the added benefit of not only warning you of a prowler, but sending an automatic call for help to your alarm company or the local police.

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