Wednesday, 29 December 2010

[Others.053] Is your upstairs window easily accessbile from outside?

The Story
One of the neighbours knocked on our door the other day. No, it's not the very unfriendly one who keep throwing fallen twigs and branches over the fence just because the tree is on our side of the fence, it's one of the better ones and thank God most of them are like that in the neighbourhood...

They told us someone broke into their house on a windy Friday night. The couple were watching tele in the family room downstairs (from around 9 pm to 1 am) and their 2 school age kids were sleeping upstairs in their own room. The intruder somehow climbed up the roof of family room from the backyard undetected, removed the fly screen from the guest bedroom window, forced the "closed and locked" sliding window open, sneaked into the main bedroom, took some valuable stuffs, and left the house probably also using the same path. And they didn't even notice it until the husband found the fly screen on the floor in the backyard next morning.

We all thought it would be a disaster if the intruder enter either of the kids' room and accidentally woke up the kid - hope they would be smart enough not to scream or make any noise - this would be a very important thing to teach/remind your kids...

Why bother?
You might think most new houses have alarm installed and this shouldn't be a major issue. Don't forget that for situations like my neighbour's, the alarm isn't even on yet. Also, we all know that most alarms can be configured to only monitor downstairs while family members were sleeping in bedrooms upstairs, if intruder entered the house through upstairs windows, it's basically useless...

A few things I can think of...
Please note that I am NOT an expert on home security, you should always consult your builder or some security specialist for professional advice. This post is just to share some of my thoughts...

If you are still in design and planning phase, a reminder for you to think and check whether any of your upstairs windows can be easily accessed from outside (normally through roof of rooms downstairs), would suggest to change it if possible.

If you are way over that phase, a few things below might help too, please be patient and read on :-)

If you are using awning window, it should be safer as I think it's much more difficult to enter from outside for awning window (just guessing as I don't have awning windows, please correct me if you think this is incorrect). For sliding windows, there are quite a few options:

1) install window locks, google for "window locks" and you should be able to get lots of information.

One of the simplest ones are locks like below, personally I don't quite like it as I have seen windows been scratched and the paint came off due to this lock.



2) some builders provide extra options of windows with built-in locks, for example, something similar to this one I mentioned before. It looks much better and should be more secure... and more expensive....

3) just get a small wood/steel stick, cut to suitable size and use it to block the sliding window from opening, as shown below. Sorry for my awful drawing skill, but I think you should get the idea.


I have seen quite a few families using the 3rd simple and cheap "stick" trick, however, after a few simple experiments, I think it's not 100% perfect. Most of the sliding windows have one panel fixed, while the other movable one, is designed to allow you to easily remove it by lifting it up. So if you have a suction pad, or by using your hand to push the movable panel up slowly, you can still sort of force it to open from outside (note: assuming window lock already been damaged)


My suggestion will be as shown below, install one or two little screws at the top of your windows (marked with red cross), this will stop the windows from been easily pushed upwards as before. The catch is, when it comes to window cleaning time, you have to remove those screws before you can remove the panel for proper cleaning.
Please note that this requires driving a screw into your window panel and special skills might be required. If not done properly, this could break your window glass or void your warranty. So please don't try it yourself unless you are confident with your skill. Always get help from professionals if possible.


What if the intruder just break the glass?
Well... Normally that would make quite a bit of noise and hopefully no one would do that. The next option would be to install some sort of bars. Make sure you choose a good looking one, otherwise it would look like a jail. I found a few photos from the net as below...




Oh, almost forgot, one other option, get a german shepherd or properly trained dog. Sometimes they are more efficient than any alarm system. Just make sure it has been properly trained to only accept food from family member...

Hope you find this information helpful, if you have any other ideas, please let me know...

Hope everyone have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year break!

Cheers!

3 comments:

Annie@A View On Design said...

I;ve been saying to my DH for ages that we have to do more security than just key lock. But I spose a key lock would have stopped them taking flyscreen off, then opening door. Still, I need to do a better audit tomorrow! good post!

bashworth said...

Hi Some great pictures here.

I use the stick approach. To stop someone lifting the window you can put a couple of screws into the top frame facing down, and partially sticking down so that they stop the sliding window lifting up. You only have to take these out if you need to take the window out.

Small Log Homes said...

I like the different methods for sealing windows, such as the clamps. These seem like the best option. I didn't at all like adding grills to the windows. While the idea may seem full proof in terms of burglary, it can be really hazardous during a fire!