In my post Five Free Things You can Do Now to be More Prepared, one of the recommended steps was to evaluate the safety of your home or apartment. If the doors and windows don’t seem too secure to you, now is the time to reinforce them.
Apartment dwellers have the additional challenge of not being able to make major alterations to their structure. Some apartments allow the residents to obtain their own monitored alarm system, while others do not. If you are considering an alarm system, read a previous guest post on Tips to Avoid Fraudulent Home Security Deals. Most leases will not allow you to replace the entire door with a heavier one, as this will alter the uniform appearance of the units. But there are a few things that may be doable. (Warning: Before making these alterations, read your lease and determine what you can and can’t do. If there is any doubt, check with your landlord-you don’t want to be stuck with a hefty fine or charged against your security deposit for making unauthorized changes.)
1. Secure the door’s strike plate with longer screws. What is the strike plate? The strike plate is the metal part covering the hole in the door frame where the dead bolt enters. Before proceeding, remove one screw and measure its size. The commonly used screws are usually only one inch long . You can reinforce the strike plate by replacing the one inch screws with 3 1/2 inch screws. This will secure the strike plate against the frame. This will not make it completely “kick-proof” but will make it less likely to fall apart with one kick.
2. Install a dead bolt lock. If your lease allows it, replace a flimsy dead bolt with a grade one or grade two deadbolt. It should extend at lease one inch into the door jamb, which is the vertical section of the door frame.
3. Door and window alarms. These are inexpensive door alarm sets that attach to the door frame. When you are inside, you set the alarm. If the door is breached, it makes a loud obnoxious noise. I actually use these and they make a lot of noise when triggered.
4. Door Stop Alarm If you prefer not to attach anything to the door frame, then try the door stop alarm. Just insert under the closed door, and it will stop a door from being opened. If anyone tries to open the door, the alarm will sound. This will work better in a bare floor, with no carpet.
5. Secure your Sliding Glass Door. A low-tech, easy and inexpensive way to make your sliding glass door more secure is to place a heavy stick or rod in the bottom tracks of the sliding door. You can have a different size rod for when the door is completely closed or if you wanted to leave it a crack open. As long as the stick is in the track, the sliding door will not open. There are also key locks available for the top and bottom of sliding door, but again, your lease may or may not allow it. I have used this method myself and it does work.
6. Security film on windows. Glass windows can be covered with security film that reinforces the glass. Another type of privacy film can be used on doors that have glass trim or designs, or side lights that are not covered up. This is more for privacy to keep passersby from looking into your house.
7. Leave objects on the window sill that will sound off when moved. Another low tech method is to leave bells or fine china on the window sill that will sound off if anyone tries to enter through the window.