How Safe Are You At Home? Part 2
November 6, 2012
Originally published May 18th
Now we come to the 2nd part of keeping yourself safe at home. Last time, we talked about doors, locks, and the like. This time, I’ll discuss the other way that criminals can enter your home. Windows.
A lot of the same things that we talked about with doors is equally true with windows. Although, windows serve a different purpose than a door does and I like windows. They are wonderful to sit by and watch the snow all, a thunderstorm, or the birds playing in the bird bath.
But while, they are not a primary way to enter and exit your home, they do make it vulnerable to a criminal. Therefore, you have to take precautions with them to ensure that they aren’t an inviting target to one of those ner’do’wells.
As with the doors, you have to check the window panes themselves. Do you have any of them that are cracked or don’t fit properly in the frame? These are things that you need to focus on, to start with, no matter your income level. You can usually go to one of the social service agencies i.e. Salvation Army or the state to get assistance in fixing them.
As windows get older, with all of us, they begin to sag and pull apart. You may have gaps in the individual frames and the panes of glass in the window. These can be fixed cheaply enough by some caulking or replacing the window, which is preferable of course.
If your window panes/frames are shrinking it’s because of several conditions with where you live. In northern climes, you get cooling and then heating of the glass, even in winter time. Over time, this heating and cooling – sometimes rapidly – can cause the shrinking. If you live in the desert, then the extreme heat of Arizona in summer can do it also, although it doesn’t cool that much at night.
If you simply tape or caulk the gaps, then you may be helping your electric bill, but you’re not providing a deterrent to a criminal. Typically, the older the window, the thinner the pane of glass, and a thin pane doesn’t make that much noise when breaking. And you have gaps and secure them with tape then they have an easier way to get in without breaking the glass. And even if you caulk it, then it is a simple matter to place a knife in the caulk and begin cutting/pushing it out.
Look at the overall window frame as well. Is it cracked and the window itself not fitting properly any longer? Again, in many older homes this can create a problem, mainly in your electric bill but in security as well. Just as in the case of your doors, if the frame is cracked, worn, or fitting loosely, then it won’t be much of an issue to get into your home to do whatever it is they want to do.
While the modern trend is to have windows that are sealed shut or sliding windows, I don’t like them like that. Yes, they can save your electric bill, in the case of the windows that are sealed. And sliding windows are good for those that are weaker and younger children to open to listen to the birds or grab a hand full of snow as it falls silently.
But if you are older and have sealed windows, then how do you get out of the house if there is a fire or other emergency? You may be too weak to pick up a chair and throw it through the window to break it so you can get out. And with a sliding one, how can you place a fan in the window to get air flow if the window allows a 3 or 4 foot opening above the fan?
I prefer to have double hung windows on a sash as in many older homes. Or the modern equivalent of a window that raises vertically and pulls out to be cleaned by tilting.
Can you effectively secure the window with locks even if it is open? Of course you can, it just takes a bit of research to figure out the best way to do it. The easiest way to do it is with an old fashioned twist lock, like on those older windows you’re replacing. As long as you can’t put a knife blade through the 2 parts of the window to ‘jimmy’ it, you’ll be okay.
If you go to your hardware store (see I’m an old fashioned guy – hardware store?) they can show you a multitude of locks for your windows. From the type that utilize a side locking mechanism to a myriad of others. Just don’t take the cheapest one you can find.
And never forget the broom stick or dowel rod to place above the window to prevent it from being as raised as far as you want it. Cut it to size and it makes a great lock for any window – even a sliding window. If you buy a dowel rod, ensure that it is thick enough to prevent someone from
pressuring it to snap when they raise the window.