Home Security Tips: The Basics

Whether you’re home, at work or taking a long vacation, there are many things you can do to protect your home and loved ones. From common sense precautions, like checking the peephole before opening the front door, to tips you may be unaware of, these suggestions can help ensure the safety of your home:

  • Light your home. Make sure your home’s entrance points are well lit. This includes front doors, back entrances and areas with windows close to the ground. Well-lit areas are less appealing to burglars because they don’t want to be seen.
  • Don’t put expensive home items on display. Keep blinds or curtains shut in rooms with expensive electronics, jewelry or other valuable items.
  • Install 1-inch deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Consider changing all the locks when you move into a new home.
  • Keep garage doors shut – even if you’re home.
  • Make your home look occupied. Use timers attached to lamps scattered throughout the house to light the inside of your home. These timers are helpful even when you aren’t on vacation and can light up your house on nights when you come home late.
  • Find a reliable neighbor you can trust, who will keep an eye on your home while you’re out of town.
  • Sliding glass patio doors can be easy break-in points. Secure them by placing a metal bar or pipe in the middle bottom track of the door slide. Make sure the pipe is the same length as the track.
  • Always check the peephole before opening the door.
  • Never leave house keys under mats, flower pots or other easily accessible, obvious locations.
  • Never leave a note. If you have a neighbor, service repair person, etc. coming to your home, don’t leave a note on the door letting them know when you’ll be back. This is another clear sign to burglars that no one is home.
  • If you’re leaving town or won’t be home for a few days, turn down the ringer volume on the telephone. Unanswered phone calls are a clear sign that no one is home.
  • Take a look at your landscaping. Make sure trees, bushes and hedges do not give burglars an easy place to hide.
  • Put newspaper and mail delivery on hold if you’re leaving town for an extended period of time. A pile of newspapers sends the message that no one is home.
  • Take precautions and plan ahead properly so that, while you’re on vacation, you can truly relax and enjoy your time off. When you come home everything will be safe and sound – just the way you left it.

Holiday Home Security Tips

Home security concerns are amplified during the holiday season. Burglaries occur most frequently when criminals are desperate for cash and know where and how to acquire it. There are also more home fires and carbon monoxide poisonings during this time of year. Fortunately, many of these problems can be prevented by implementing a few simple precautions.

Don’t advertise what you buy

When you go shopping, discreetly dispose of bags with department store names on them, especially those from high-end stores. You should also follow this tip for holiday presents that have been opened. Don’t leave out boxes that advertise what new items your home has acquired. A box with a picture of a new gaming system or flat screen TV is a tempting offer for criminals and neighborhood kids who didn’t get what they wanted from Santa.

Freshen the batteries in detectors

Regularly update and check the batteries in your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms. Have carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of family members’ bedrooms. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer – it’s an odorless, poisonous gas that prevents oxygen in the lungs from reaching vital tissues. It can cause damage to the brain immediately, or up to several days after an apparent recovery. Ensuring these detectors are working reliably will increase the safety of your family and home.

Turn off the lights

While holiday lights are beautiful, they can’t be enjoyed while you’re sleeping. Turn off the lights on the tree, especially if it is real. Stay on top of watering your holiday tree because the dryer it gets, the more flammable it becomes. Holiday lights are only supposed to heat up to a certain level but shorts can happen, bulbs can blow and sparks can ignite. Don’t overload a socket with too many plugs. You should turn off decorative lights by unplugging them completely; this way, the circuit will be completely broken.

The holiday season is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy one another’s company. But don’t forget that safety always comes first!

Travel and Vacation Tips

Family trips and vacations are a time to relax. It’s also a time when criminals go to work. Certain areas – like those without community watch programs and neighborhoods where people don’t know each other well – can be easy targets. If your house is dark and your newspapers and mail are piling up outside, a clear message is sent: you’re gone and your home is empty. Instead of relying on someone else to make sure your home stays safe while you’re gone, follow these tips to proactively protect it before you leave.

Stop the mail

If you’ll be gone for more than a week, visit your local post office and put your mail on temporary hold. This keeps your mail safe and prevents others from knowing you’re out of town.

Stop the paper

Call your local paper carrier and ask them to stop delivery while you’re gone. Piled up newspapers are a clear sign that you are out of town. Plus, they may credit your account for the days you don’t get the paper.

Shine a light

Minimize dark spots outside your home where burglars could potentially hide. Turn on lights so that none of the windows or doorways remain in darkness. Motion-sensitive lights can also scare off unwelcome visitors.

Make it look lived in

Use timers or a security system with remote monitoring to light the inside of your home. This equipment is great even if you aren’t on vacation and can light up your house on nights when you come home late.

Inform the service

If you have a home alarm service, let them know when you’re going out of town. If a house sitter or friend is coming by to check on things, tell the alarm company that only one person has the right to be in your house while you’re away. This “safe” list will come in handy in case your friend accidentally sets off the alarm. Plus, letting your home monitoring company know that you’re out of town alerts them that if your alarm goes off and you can’t be reached, they should alert the authorities right away.

Don’t leave a key for burglars

Never hide a key anywhere outside of your home. Anyone watching your home will notice a pattern if the nanny, housekeeper or kids always go to the poolroom, shed or lift a planter before they open the front door.

Keep it to yourself

When you’re loading the car with luggage to leave for vacation, try not to let the whole neighborhood see you doing it. If possible, load your car inside the garage. You don’t need to advertise that you are going away. You should also refrain from making social media statuses or tweets about your absence. Oversharing on social media could make it easy for a follower to take advantage of your empty home.