A man's home is his castle, as the saying goes, and it's vital that homeowners go to great lengths to protect it. Though we can't all build a moat around our property, we can at the very least ensure that it is secure; keeping intruders at bay and our family safe. Welcome to our practical guide to window safety.
One of the most common points of entry - and sometimes a feature that is forgotten about in terms of security - is the humble window. Hidden around the back of a property, perhaps left open by absent-minded homeowners, it can be easy to gain access without forcing entry. Plus, in terms of safety, the window can be a parent's worst nightmare.
To that end, here's our guide to improving window safety:
Good news! The Office for National Statistics' Crime Survey for England and Wales shows the number of household thefts decreased by 25 per cent in 2013, compared with the previous year - though this does still represent 217,486 domestic burglaries. As one of the most common points of entry, it's vital that windows are fitted with efficient, working locks and that you are the only homeowners with the keys. As such, it might be pertinent to replace the locks that were installed originally or that simply don't work anymore. No matter whether it's a sash, old-style double-glazed or a casement window, there is a lock to both fit and improve the look of your windows.
As homes grow older and endure the effects of weathering, they can shift. Many people find that doors no longer close quite like they used to and the same can happen with windows. Frames can rot or may not sit flush with the pane. This offers thieves an easy opportunity to break in - there are several instances of burglaries that have occurred as thieves removed an entire window. Assess your windows and consider whether this might be the right time to replace them. By doing so, you can not only enhance the security of your home but could also enjoy improved insulation.
For rooms that are perhaps extremely vulnerable, excessively overlooked or homes left empty, temporary window bars are an easy solution. Locked into place from the inside, the bars provide increased security, usually operating from a single locking system. They act as an obvious deterrent and can be formulated to fit any size windows. This may seem like quite a severe option and one that isn't commonly seen in domestic settings, but they are perfectly suitable for homes and once they are no longer needed, they can be safely removed.
Window 'safety' extends beyond unauthorised entry to a property; it also encompasses the well-being of inhabitants - specifically young children. Curious little hands are surprisingly adept at working out how to open things they shouldn't - like windows. Window restrictor hooks are therefore a good investment. They work with existing fittings and can limit how far a window can be opened, allowing in sufficient fresh air without creating any dangerous temptations. The window cannot be easily opened by inquisitive toddlers. Restrictors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with models suitable for different types of window.
Following on from the point above, parents should be careful about what they choose to dress their windows. Curtains are far preferable to blinds as they do not require the long, looping cord that blinds need to operate. Sadly, there have been a few stories reported in the news lately about children getting tangled up - in some cases, fatally. If you do have blinds, ensure that the cord is securely tucked away and cannot be pulled down.
The ultimate key to enhanced window safety is practising some common sense - remember to check whether or not you've shut the windows before going out. Remove the keys from the locks and keep them safe. Don't display any valuables within sight that might catch the eye of a passing opportunist. Watch your little one if they are in a room where you've opened a window.
The majority of these points are not ground-breaking, but they will help you improve the security of your home and ensure improved safety for your loved ones.
Author: George Mitchell