Improving door security might seem like the most important step to home safety, but if your home's windows are easy to break in to, it is basically pointless. All windows on the ground and lower-ground floor, and any others that could be targeted by an intruder, should be fitted with locks and, ideally, laminated glass which won't break into removable pieces.
There are locks for all types of wooden window, most of which can easily be fitted by DIYers. Many houses in this country have sash windows which are a lovely original feature, but a risky one because they can be opened from outside by forcing up the bottom sash. Sash catches prevent this from happening, but you must fit locks as well. Sash stops allow the window to be opened slightly for ventilation (or opened fully with a key), but not enough for someone to get in (providing they're not fitted too far up), so they're a good security measure.
UPVC and metal windows should have adequate built-in security, but if you want to improve it, consult a locksmith because it's not easy to do yourself and you may end up invalidating any guarantee. If you're buying new windows, check they have the latest security features, including hinge protection, British Standards locks, and internal beading so it can't be removed from the outside.
Period leaded windows may look safe, but this is only true if you add internal metal grilles, laminated secondary glazing or polycarbonate sheeting. If you live in a listed building or on 'designated land', like a conservation area, there will be restrictions on making changes to the windows, so it's advisable to check with the local council about what you can and can't do because permission is often required.
Garden sheds and other outbuildings will always be vulnerable to a break in because they're separate from the house, and thieves know they often contain valuable items like tools and lawnmowers. If you must store valuables in the shed, mark them with your postcode and house number using a UV pen, and lock the shed with a sturdy chain and padlock or an anchor device. However, if the shed has glazed windows that could be smashed, for example, or a door bolt that could be unscrewed, it won't be secure without modifications.
Garages are also vulnerable to break in and, if they have internal access, could be an easy way into the house. While you can improve the security of garage windows and back doors with locks, grilles and laminated glass, the main door (where the car goes in) can often be ignored. Some have a key-operated handle, which can easily be replaced if it doesn't work, and there are locks available to suit other types of garage door. You can also fit doorstops in front of the main door to prevent it from being opened, or secure it from inside with a padlock. Again, security-mark any valuables stored in the garage and, if you can, chain them together or to an anchor device with a good padlock to make them harder to remove.
Product of the week
Many work lights are designed to sit on the floor but although they can be angled, it's often hard to get the light where you want it - not with the Double Tripod Site Light. It has two bright, 400W lights on a tripod, the height of which is adjustable. The lights, which last around 1,000 hours, can be independently tilted, and rotated through 360 degrees, independently or together, making it easy to cover the room with light and easy to adjust them. There's no danger of them being knocked over or off something because they're fixed to the tripod, and each light has a handle so there's no risk of burning yourself. If you're decorating this autumn/winter, these lights are a great investment.