When it comes to home security and keeping your family safe, it’s important to consider all entry points into your house. One of the easiest entry points that many people don’t consider is through your basement windows.
If you live in an apartment or live is an area that has a warm climate all year long, you might not have a basement. If you’re like the rest of us though, you have a sizable chunk of space available beneath the main floor of your house.
Having a basement opens up a lot of options. In the two houses that I’ve owned, and in the house that I grew up in as a child, we’ve had full-size basements. I’ve always used this extra space for storage, and in our last house, we finished off about two thirds of it as an entertainment area, more or less.
Basements serve a multitude of purposes. For starters, they offer plenty of extra storage. They also give you options for expanding your living space, whether it’s for your family or for guests. Lastly, they typically house your furnace, water heater, electrical panel, and possibly your washer and dryer.
While having a basement may sound great, it also opens up a security vulnerability to your home. Most basements at least have small windows, many have large egress windows, and some even have sliding doors, in the case of walk-out basements.
All of these entry points need to be considered when evaluating the security of your home. Since basements are often neglected, burglars know to check these areas to see if you’ve made it easy for them to break in.
In this article, I’m going to share some simple steps that you can take today to secure your basement windows and doors. Not all of these options make sense in every situation, so pick and choose the ones that make the most sense in your specific situation.
How to Protect Your Basement Windows from Burglars
1 – Put a Security Sticker on Your Window
Some of the best deterrent also happen to be the easiest and cheapest. This one is no exception. Simply putting a security system sticker on your window works well as a deterrent, even if you don’t own a security system.
When burglars canvas neighborhoods, they look for the easiest targets. After all, if you’re taking such a risk to break into a house, why would you make it hard on yourself?
By putting a security sticker in your window, you’re letting burglars know that you might possibly have a security system installed, and if nothing else, you’re letting them know that you have a better security awareness than most.
As far as where to put the sticker, that’s debatable. Most people put one on their front window or door and maybe another on the back side of their house. If you really want to make it obvious that you have a system, you can put one on every door and window, including the basement doors and windows.
2 – Make Sure You Have Good Outdoor Lighting
One of the absolute best deterrents for potential burglars is good lighting around your home. Again, if you’re a burglar and you’re canvassing a neighborhood, are you going to target the house with good lighting or the one with all of the lights off?
Good outdoor lighting is only as effective as its placement. Make sure that all major entry points (front door, basement slider, etc.) are brightly lit. Ideally, you’ll have at least some light shining in front of all of your windows, including the basement windows, as well.
Consider installing standard outdoor lighting around your entry points, then put motion-sensor flood lights covering your windows. That way, your main entry points are always lit, but if someone gets near your windows at night, your motion lights will kick in and light up the entire area.
This technique saves on your electric bill and allows you to minimize the light around your house while you’re sleeping.
3 – Leave a Light on Inside
While we’re on the subject of lights, outdoor lighting isn’t the only source of lighting that can be used as a deterrent. Leaving lights on inside works as well.
By leaving lights on (anywhere in your house), you’re giving the impression that someone is home and awake. If you’d rather not have your house brightly lit while you’re sleeping, consider strategically placing some smaller light sources near a few doors and windows. This can give the illusion that the entire area is lit, without actually lighting the entire area.
To give the impression that you’re home when you’re away on vacation, consider installing a smart timer with a random setting to automatically turn your lights on and off at reasonable times.
With a smart timer, you simply plug it into an outlet, then plug a lamp (or any electronic device) into the smart timer and configure it to enable or disable the power at scheduled, or even random, times. This is a great way to make your house look lived in while you’re away.
4 – Use Break-Resistant Glass or Polycarbonate Sheets
Another option, although a bit pricier, is to replace your glass windows with break-resistant or shatter-proof glass. Break-resistant glass is less prone to shattering and is more difficult to break, which means a potential intruder will be more likely to move on when they encounter it.
Check out this video demonstrating various types of security glass:
Along the same lines, you can replace your glass windows with polycarbonate sheets. Polycarbonate sheets are also resistant to breaking and provide more strength and durability than standard glass, making it a good option to improve the security of your basement windows.
5 – Keep Your Curtains Closed or Install a Window Film
Burglars take a huge risk when they break into a house. Most will only do so if they have a general idea of what’s waiting for them inside.
One of the easiest ways to keep someone from getting a little too curious and looking in your windows is to keep your windows covered.
This can be as simple as keeping your blinds or curtains closed. A nice option for basement windows, since we typically don’t need to be able to see out of them, is to apply a window film. A window film provides privacy by providing anything from a frosted look to a complete blackout of your windows.
Some window films provide a secondary feature which helps to hold glass in place in case something, like a baseball, hits your windows.
Another way to obstruct the view into your basement is with the use of window well covers, which I’ll cover next.
6 – Install Window Well Covers
When people install window well covers, most of them probably don’t consider it a security measure. After all, window well covers offer many benefits, aside from added security.
For one, they help to keep small animals from falling into the window well. Also, they redirect rain and snow to the areas around a well. Lastly, they promote energy efficiency by basically providing another layer of insulation to your windows.
While the typical window well won’t prevent a burglar from breaking into your home, they do help as a deterrent. By adding a window well, you’re adding another barrier to overcome for the criminal to enter, because they first have to remove the window well.
Also, window wells make it more difficult to see into your basement from outside. Burglars prefer to know that something valuable is waiting for them on the other side of a window before taking the risk of breaking in.
7 – Make Sure Your Windows and Doors are Locked
This one is the most obvious on the list, but also the most crucial. Most (but not all) people know enough to lock their doors while they’re sleeping or away, but it’s not uncommon for people to leave their windows unlocked, even when they’re closed.
While we all know that a locked door or window isn’t going to stop a determined burglar from getting into a house, it does work well as a deterrent, as it makes the task more difficult for them.
Again, unless a burglar has his eyes set specifically on your home, he’s going to pick the easiest target in your general area. Doing the small things, like latching your windows and locking your doors, may be enough to drive the intruder on to a different house.
8 – Install a Security Camera (Even If It’s Not Connected)
In a perfect world, all of us could afford to install a nice set of security cameras around our house to deter potential burglars and capture footage if one happens to step foot on your property.
Since we don’t live in a perfect world, this isn’t an option for many of us. Fortunately, the threat of a surveillance system is often enough to deter potential intruders.
While surveillance systems will run anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars, you can buy an individual security camera without the DVR and cabling for a fraction of the cost.
A few well-placed cameras, even ones that aren’t connected to anything, may be enough to convince a potential burglar to look elsewhere.
9 – Leave Some Electronics Running
The same principles that work for protecting your home in general work for protecting your basement. By leaving some lights on, along with some noise-producing electronics, you can create the illusion that someone is home and awake.
Potential electronics to leave running include a radio, television, or even a smart speaker, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
We have a few Amazon Echo Dots at home, and we love them. For security, you can configure them to stream music or replay conversations on a schedule. This is a great way to produce some convincing audio in your home while you’re away at work or gone for a vacation.
10 – Manage the Plant Life Near Your Entry Points
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of outdoor lighting. While good outdoor lighting is crucial, it can only do so much if you have large shrubs planted in front of your windows.
Large plants in front of your doors and windows provide ideal cover for potential intruders. Since basement windows are so low to the ground, it’s easier to obstruct them with plants.
Make sure that all potential entry points into your home, including your basement windows, are free of plant life that can easily provide cover for burglars.
11 – Obstruct the Entry Points (Both Inside and Outside)
While it’s important that you keep large plant life away from your basement windows, you can still put smaller plants around them that actually help as a deterrent.
Well-placed smaller plants, especially ones with thorns, can make it more difficult for intruders to reach the basement windows. This is a great way to add some nice landscaping around your house, while adding another deterrent for potential criminals.
Now that you have the outside of the house covered, spend some time inside to make sure you’re making entry into your basement as difficult (or at least inconvenient) as possible.
Keep large furniture away from windows, like tables and chairs, which can be used by criminals to get in and out of your basement with ease. Remember, the goal is to make your basement, and your house in general, a less-appealing target to potential intruders.
12 – Secure Sliding Doors
Sliding doors are known for having weak locking mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be secured.
A simple way to secure a sliding door is to place a rod in the track of the sliding door. You can use just about anything, even a 2’ x 4’, but for a nicer appearance simply pick up a large, wooden, dowel rod at a local hardware store. Simply paint it to match the color of your door.
Alternatively, you can find rods made specifically for sliding doors online, but expect to pay more for them.
13 – Install Security Bars
This one’s a bit more drastic, but depending on the area that you live in and how safe you feel in your own home, installing security bars in or around your windows might be worth it in your specific situation.
Window security bars come in various styles and can easily be found online. Some are made to be permanently attached, while others can be opened, but only from the inside. Some can be installed on the basement side of the window, which helps the appearance from the outside as well.
It’s pretty common to put metal grates over the opening of an egress window. If you get one that is lockable and can only be opened from the inside, you can protect your egress windows in a similar fashion to using security bars on your smaller windows.
While security bars might not be the most pleasant thing to look at, if you really want to beef up your basement security, or you simply don’t spend enough time in your basement to be concerned about the appearance, they’re worth considering. Security bars are definitely one of the better deterrents when it comes to home security.
14 – Install a Security System with Motion Detection
Earlier, I mentioned that a security system sticker in the window can work well as a deterrent. If your budget allows it though, getting an actual security system is ideal.
Depending on the type of system you go with, someone breaking into your house may simply trigger an alarm or even alert local authorities.
Keep in mind that not all security systems are created equally. Some systems work by using door contacts that are triggered when a door is opened. This type of system won’t set off an alarm if someone breaks in through your basement windows.
Another type of system uses motion detection, which detects motion in designated areas. This type of system is ideal for monitoring multiple entry points, without relying on door or window contacts, which can be costly.
Basements tend to be an afterthought for most people when it comes to security, which is why burglars often check the entry points to a basement for vulnerabilities.
Don’t make things easy for potential criminals. If you take proper precautions, they will see your house as a difficult target and move on to the next.
By implementing some of the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to improving the overall security of your home.