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Homes | Crime prevention

How to bolster home window security

Do you feel safe in your home? If not, it's time to take matters into your own hands and upgrade your home security.

What to do with windows

Doors are easy to burglar-proof. You throw on a couple of hardened-steel locks using pencil-sized screws, and you're all set. Windows are little more complicated.

Usually, a locked window provides adequate security because breaking the glass is likely to draw attention, inside or outside the home. If the window is out of public view, or if the home is in a neighborhood where the sound of shattering glass might not be heard, the glass itself may provide little security. That's when you move to plan B — securing the opening.

Locking windows

Window locks are readily available, easy to install and inexpensive. Hardware stores or home centers are sure to have a lock for your type of window, in addition to some old-school locking devices, such as wood dowels or broom handles. But remember: A lock is no better than its weakest part or connection. You can splurge on some high-quality locks for your windows, but if they're screwed into soft or thin wood or the screws are short, the strong locks won't do much good. So, be sure the lock itself is strong and that you'll be able to make a strong connection to the window or frame.

The store staff can help you find the right locks for your window type, whether it's a single-hung (one sash goes up and down), double-hung (both sashes go up and down), slider (slides open to the side), or casement (uses a crank to open like a door). In addition, here are a couple of options: For single- and double-hung windows, you can drill a hole through the meaty part of the wood where the two sashes meet (don't go all the way through the outer sash) and insert an eye bolt to pin the sashes together. For sliders, a wood dowel in the track is a good lock.

However, sliders are designed to lift out of their tracks for replacement. That means a thug with a crow bar can do the same thing on the outside. Fix this by driving a screws straight up into the top window track, stopping when the screw heads are just above the window sash. Do this only on the "closed" side of the window frame, so you can still lift out the sash when the window is open.

Securing window openings

If you want added protection, you're ready to shop around for window security bars. Basically they're all-metal bars or gates that mount to the inside of your window frame and lock with or without a key. For any window inside living space, you want a bar system that opens easily from the inside, in case of an emergency. Be sure to keep keys stored where they're easy to reach from the inside but impossible to reach from the window opening.

Security bars typically install with hidden or tamper-resistant screws. Just make sure the screws are going into meaty wood or, preferably, the wall framing.

How to bolster home window security 07/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 4:55pm]

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