Not just because you’ll get a better home insurance premium if you have a decent home alarm and the correct locks on doors and windows, but for the security of your valuables – and you and yours.
If like me, you find yourself solo parenting, whether full or part-time, it’s nice to know that you and the kids are as protected as you can be against unwelcome intruders.
In the evenings I work in our lounge which has french windows opening out onto a small garden. I feel far happier with the curtains drawn to keep out prying eyes and, like Mrs Hinch, have a regular ‘put the house to bed’ routine which involves double-checking everything is locked up and put away.
But I must confess that I don’t like the dark evenings, nor creeping upstairs trying not to wake the kids. That’s why a good quality home alarm system can really help your frayed nerves!
For a start, home alarms these days are so much easier to install. If your home doesn’t have an existing home alarm, you can get a wireless alarm system which needs no screws, cables or installation work.
Many alarm systems offer features such as motion detectors, surveillance cameras and door alarms and it is certainly worth considering a monitored alarm system which will transmit signals to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).
If your alarm is triggered, the ARC will contact you or a nominated key holder and if necessary take action.
You can even monitor some home alarm systems with a mobile app and you don’t always need a landline.
Some alarm systems will also operate in what is called ‘partial mode’ which protects you when you are asleep or in a specific part of the house.
This works by leaving one or several detectors active, such as the window-opening detector or the movement detector in the hallway. If an intruder tries to break in through the windows or the main door, the alarm will go off.
If you already have an alarm system in place, make sure that you keep it well maintained. As a general guideline you should:-
Anyone that has been working inside your home for any reason could have interfered with your alarm system, whether accidentally or not.
When the tradespeople leave, do a quick system test to make sure everything is functioning correctly.
Even if you know your system well, it’s only too easy to accidentally damage a connection or component. Not something you want to only discover when you’ve had a break-in!
Anything that might affect the system’s ability to communicate with the monitoring centre should be thoroughly checked.
And don’t forget to check other alarms such as smoke detectors at least once a month.
Another commonsense measure is to have a plan in place in the event of a fire or other problem. Grim though this sounds, such a plan may save lives. For example, if a fire breaks out, you have less than 5 minutes to leave your property.
Many of us have received fire safety training at work but we need to remember to teach the children what they need to do in the event of a fire – without scaring them unnecessarily and giving them nightmares!
Things like not leaving hair straighteners plugged in, loading up sockets with too many chargers and of course, not playing with matches are basic pieces of advice which should be reinforced.
For many working parents, the question of when to give your kids a front door key is an issue. You don’t want them roaming the streets unable to get in, but equally, you don’t want them wandering off leaving the door unlocked.
There’s no point having a brilliant home alarm system if the kids leave the front door unlocked or, for older kids, either forget to set the alarm or forget the key code so the alarm goes off.
We think 11 is around the right age to have a key especially when a child starts secondary school but it is important that keys are on keyrings that don’t identify the owner or their address.
Otherwise, if the keys get lost, a burglar knows straight where to go!
Home security is a topic which affects all the family and which should be discussed openly but gently with children.
A good quality home alarm system is worth investing in and there is plenty of help and advice available for you to find the best one for you.
Now that the dark winter nights are here, I find that very reassuring indeed.