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Simple steps for home security

Dec. 31, 2013

The new year is a good time to start new things. Eat less, exercise more, work harder, volunteer. It's a good time, too, to make sure your house and family are safe.

The Wauwatosa Police Department has a handful of tips to keep intruders away. These tips were provided by Community Service Officer Don Semega at a neighborhood meeting.

Installing lighting and door and window locks are simple first steps.


The department advises homeowners to leave exterior lighting on around the home during the night. Or, as an alternative, use low-level motion detectors that turn lights on when needed. In a rating of lamp efficiencies, LED lights last longest — up to 40,000 hours — while using from 20 to 60 watts, and are deemed the most efficient.

Halogen lamps, by contrast, last for 1,500 hours, using as much as 500 watts, and are rated the least efficient.

Sodium lamps and compact flourescents both last about 10,000 hours, using wattage similar to the LED lights and, while they beat halogen lamps for efficiency, do not approach the efficiency of an LED, according to information provided by the department.

Window locks

Windows should be locked when the house is empty, or the residents are sleeping, the department advises. Window sash locks that require a key are an effective choice.

The department also recommends "pinning" double hung and sliding windows, to prevent them from opening more than 4 inches. To pin a window, drill through both the upper and lower frames in both the closed position and with the window open to a maximum of 4 inches on both corners of the window. Using a rod or other pinning device, you can lock the window closed, or in the open position.

Another commonsense suggestion is to refrain from laying valuables out in the open, on tables or counters near the windows.

For basement windows, the department suggests installing a horizontal metal bar bolted to the inside wall on either side of the glass.

Doors and sliding doors

Doors should be hinged on the inside. Outside hinges should be replaced with security hinges that prevent the removal of the pins.

Deadbolts that lock the doors should have a 1-inch "throw," and have beveled housing to prevent twisting. Regarding the strike plate, which the deadbolt enters, a homeowner should consider purchasing a plate that requires four screws for mounting, not just two, and the screws should be 3 inches long

For homes with sliding glass doors, an owner should consider a bar, called a "Charley bar," that can prevent the door from opening. A piece of wood, such as a piece of wooden railing or a thick broomstick, cut to fit in the lower channel, can also be useful.

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