Keep Your Home Safe Over The Festive Season!

by Sheree Becker on December 18, 2012

Keep Your Home Safe Over The Festive Season!

11 Top Tips To Make Sure Your Home Is Secure.

Keep Your Home Safe This Christmas.

Its holiday season! Whether that means – time to visit the family and / or time go on that summer Christmas break don’t let the rush and excitement of the holiday season make you careless in protecting your home over the Christmas period.

A house, unit or apartment left empty while you are away are traveling is a tempting target for criminals. We don’t want to scare you — or leave you fearing for your treasured belongings while enjoying the break this year, but it’s imperative that you take certain key steps to keep your home safe and sound while you are not there. Basic preventative measures (which take only minutes to complete) can work wonders to help you avoid power surges, broken pipes, home invasions and more.

1. Ask a Friend to Help out.
A simple, albeit crucial, way to gain peace of mind while traveling is to ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. First, bribe your friend with some freshly baked cookies or cupcakes. Next, ask him or her to drive by your home once every day or so and check on the place. Give this person a key so that he or she can bring your mail in, feed your cat, water your plants, rake your leaves, etc. If you don’t use a garage, you may also want to give this person a key to your car — you never know when your vehicle may need to be moved. He or she should also have your contact information and a copy of your itinerary in case of emergencies. Do you have more than one person visiting your house while you’re away? If so, tell them about each other! Make sure one of them bring the rubbish bins in and out on bin day.

2. Don’t Tip Off Criminals on the World Wide Web.
In a world where it seems everyone has to tell everyone else about their business on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to stop and think: Who exactly is reading this stuff? Sometimes we share personal information without fully realizing that there may be hundreds of complete strangers receiving our daily messages. Would you announce to a crowd of people you don’t know that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks this December? If not, then you should think twice about posting your detailed vacation plans on Twitter or Facebook — especially if that information is visible to other users other than your friends and family (and it probably is). Be careful what you say on your answering machine or voice mail too. Callers don’t need to know that you’re not home — they just need to know that you can’t come to the phone right now.

3. Let the Police know!
Always notify the police if you’re going on vacation. No need to let the cops know about a weekend getaway, but do call them if you’re leaving town for longer than a week. It’s possible the police may go out of their way to drive by your house while on patrol, especially if you live in a small town. If you have a security alarm, leave a house key and the code with someone you trust, and provide the police and alarm company with their name and phone number. You may also want to contact your local neighbourhood watch program if there’s one in your area, these programs are very helpful.

4. Curtains Closed – or Open? That is the Question!
This one is always up for debate! Before you leave for vacation, you may decide to close your curtains to prevent people from peering inside your home to see whether you’re there. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help, the Police, your neighbours or maybe your friends from seeing inside your house. So what’s your best bet? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore – especially if your curtains are left closed for two weeks when normally they wouldn’t. Move expensive items, like jewellery or cash and anything else of value, out of plain sight if they’re visible from the window.

5. The Lights Are on But No One’s Home, DOH!
Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. Your electricity bill will end up more costly than your mortgage the way prices are today, plus leaving the lights on is not exactly “green” behaviour now is it?. Plus, house lights blazing throughout the night might look a bit odd, no? Instead, purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping. Timers are relatively cheap these days and can be sourced from lots of retailers.

6. STOP Your Mail.
Either place a “stop” order on mail and newspapers or arrange to have a friend or neighbour pick up your mail while you’re away. Otherwise, a week’s worth of letters piled on your front step could signal to criminals that this particular homeowner is out of town. It’s easy to put your mail on hold; that’s why there’s no excuse not to do this. A ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on the letterbox will keep all the advertising material at bay as well.

7. Lock up Everything.
Naturally it’s important to have the entry points to your home secured appropriately. But it’s just as important to double check and make sure all those entry points are actually closed and the locks fastened. It’s often a rush of last minute organisation when you are leaving on a trip and one idea is to lock everything up the night prior to departure, particularly if you are leaving early in the morning. This will make your departure easier and ensure that you don’t accidentally leave your home unsecured and vulnerable.

8. Pull the Plug.
Unplug your television, computer, toaster, microwave and all other appliances to protect them from power surges. Do this to save power as well. According to the Consumer Energy Centre, many appliances use power even when they’re turned off. SWITCH THEM ALL OFF! (Although a timer on the radio would be useful for some noise.)

9. Remove Your Spare Key
That plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that they will check your porch for a spare key. So reach under the mat, into the mailbox, above the door frame or into the flower pot and remove your spare key before you leave on your vacation.

10. Avoid the dark.
Thieves like to go about their work unobserved. Having exterior lights activated by motion sensors can light up the dark areas around your home at night. Being in the spotlight may just deter criminals from targeting your property.

11. Keep a detailed inventory.
You should also ensure that if your property is stolen it is easily identifiable. It is useful to keep a detailed inventory of all your valuable property in a safe place. This may involve photographing, marking or engraving the items. It is important to note that only an item with a hard surface may be engraved or marked. Engraving or marking your item should be done with a traceable number such as your driver licence number or a special code that only you know. The act of doing so may prevent others from identifying your property as theirs.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Safe and Happy New Year from all of us here!