The holiday season holds the promise of decorations, shopping, parties, and fun. Whether you at your favorite restaurant or shop across town, or visiting friends or family across the country, home safety is important. There are things you can do to help keep your home and family safe. Here are 12 tips to help you do just that.
1. Consider a home security system.
If you’ve ever considered buying a home security system, now’s the perfect time to invest in one. There are systems for all budgets, many with cameras that stream to an app on your smartphone so you can keep an eye on things while you’re gone, not to mention 24-monitoring services for everything from smoke, to carbon monoxide, to tripped light sensors.
2. Keep travel details offline.
As tempting as it is to boast about travel plans, doing so online could alert burglars. Even with privacy settings turned on, you never know what information could be viewed or passed on from an acquaintance.
3. Put timers on lights.
Set both inside and outside lights on timers to mimic you being home.
4. Turn the ringer down on any landline phones.
If you still have a landline phone installed in your home, turn the ringer volume down so those walking by your house don’t hear repeated rings go unanswered.
5. Stop mail and newspaper delivery.
Even if you’ll only be gone for a few days, it’s smart to stop all mail deliveries or have a trusted neighbor collect your mail. Piles of papers and full mailboxes are telltale signs you’re away from home.
6. Lock doors and windows.
Before leaving home, double check all entry points are locked and secure, including sliding glass doors, second-story windows, and any pet entrances.
7. Don’t leave a hidden key outside.
If a burglar suspects you’re out of town, they’ll take their time looking in all the usual (and unusual) places for an extra key. Don’t leave one out for them to find!
8. Unplug unnecessary electronics.
This will save you money and save you from a potential fire if a power surge occurs while you’re gone.
9. Notify a neighbor.
If you are planning to go out of town during the holiday season, be sure to notify a trusted neighbor. Ask the neighbor to keep an eye on your house and report any suspicious activity. You’ll also want this neighbor to keep your walks cleared of snow and to pick up your mail and newspapers while you are away. Make sure your house looks like somebody is home to deter a burglar.
10. Hide Christmas gifts and packages.
You probably want to keep gifts out of sight from children, but you also want to make sure gifts are hidden from a potential burglar as well. Putting pretty wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree looks nice, but it’s also an open invitation for a burglar. Try to keep your Christmas tree, with gifts underneath, away from windows or other places with a view. When you aren’t home, it’s easy to break through a window and grab all of your gifts.
11. Take care of gifts you haven’t received yet.
Thieves like to strike when there’s a delivery or other package left unguarded on the porch. Consider adding a doorbell cam or other outdoor security camera to help deter porch pirates. Another smart move is to give delivery people special instructions about where to leave packages.
12. Watch your Christmas lights.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the deadliest month for electrical fires. Before you string lights on the house or the tree, be sure to inspect the strands to make sure there aren’t any frayed cords or cracked lamps. Replace any broken lamps and throw away strands with frayed cords. This will help prevent any accidental fires. Also, be sure to turn any holiday lights off when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed. Try using an outdoor timer or smart outlet to switch lights on and off (see #3). And it’s a good idea to review how to use a fire extinguisher and make sure yours is accessible and unexpired.
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