Holiday Home Safety - Part 1
The holidays are upon us and I’m sure you are already working on decorations, parties, and travel plans. In this first installment of holiday safety, I’ll be touching on how to keep your property safe from intruders with a handful of easy to accomplish tips.
1: Get to Know Your Neighbors
This might sound like a daunting task to those introverts out there, but the people who live around you are your first line of defense when it comes to keeping your home -- and neighborhood -- safe. Everyone benefits when there are more people watching one another’s backs (and homes).
If you are feeling especially ambitious, spearhead a neighborhood watch program in your area. Not only is it a way to better get to know your neighbors, but it can reduce the overall crime in your area.
Picking up a few timers to use during the holidays (or any time you’re away) can help give the impression someone is still home:
If you’re staying home, put your exterior holiday lights on a timer. This makes it appear as if someone is home in order to manage the exterior lights, even if you're home and decide to go to bed early. It also helps save on your power bill by not leaving the lights on all night.
If you’re leaving home for a few days to be with friends and family, put several internal lights on timers as well. Have them turn on at different times in the early morning and evenings to give the impression that someone is home. Most people who get up in the mornings to prepare for work will turn lights on, so don’t neglect that time frame.
For the do-it-yourselfer, consider installing a motion detection light for the front of your house. Someone lurking around your house to check for unsecured doors and windows won’t like the fact that they are suddenly bathed in light with the prospect of being confronted by a potentially awake owner who can notify the police.
3: Alarm System
Alarms are a great deterrent for home invasions. They also reduce your homeowner's insurance. However, they only work if:
- You arm it when you are away. Having an alarm and not using one is the nearly the same as not having one. If you’ve got it, we advise getting into the habit of arming when you are the last one out of the house, even when it’s just for short trips. That way, when you are away for the longer trips, you’ll be sure to arm it.
The nice thing about the newer alarms is that they can now be armed and disarmed remotely using a phone app. So that is also something to consider if you have a tough time remembering to arm the alarm.
- The bad guys know (or think) you have one. If you don’t have a monitored alarm system, you may want to consider having one installed. Also, make sure you have the stickers and yard signs for your alarm system clearly displayed. This may be enough deterrent for a would-be burglar.
If you cannot afford one, don’t fret: purchasing either a yard sign or window stickers can give the illusion that you *do* have one. These can be purchased either second hand or online. However, make sure that you do not purchase the generic ones: burglars have caught on to these and they no longer do much to deter break-ins.
4: Lock All Your Doors and Windows
This may actually sound like a no-brainer, but were you aware that about 30% of break-ins were not forced entries? This means that someone left an entry point unsecured. Making sure all your doors and windows are locked before leaving your house for an extended period of time will prevent those home invaders looking for an easy in.
Here are a few more inexpensive ways to secure your entry points around the house:
- Use additional locking mechanisms such as simple wooden dowels in the window spaces and sliding glass doors (which are notoriously insecure, even when locked).
- Reinforce all your door jambs or install a door brace to prevent the door from being kicked in.
- If you have a door from your house to your garage, make sure to lock it as well. Many burglars have been able to force entry into the garage, then get in through an unsecured door into the house.
5: Make Arrangements For Your Mail
Whether you have a curbside box, mail slot, or centralized mailbox, if you’re gone for more than just a few days, you’ll want to have your mail stopped or have a neighbor collect it for you.
An accumulation of mail is a dead giveaway that no one is at home. Since most burglars want an empty house, this will let them know they have an open workspace and a little bit of time to go through your things to find what they want.
6: Stay Off Social Media
It may be quite tempting to tell your friends about your upcoming trip on all your social media accounts or post where you are for the holidays. We recommend that you reserve that information until after your return when you can post pictures and tag friends and family.
The reason for this is that burglars use social media too. Your announcement to everyone about your holiday travel plans lets them know that your house is going to be empty. Then they can schedule their time to come by your house when they know you’ll be away.
Stay Covered With AIP Insure
These easy to follow instructions help ensure your home and everything in it stays safe while you are away enjoying your holidays. However, should anything happen, American Insurance Partners is always there to help. If you want to make sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date, we’d be more than happy to go over your coverage with you. If you’re looking for new homeowner’s insurance, give us a call. We’d love to chat with you.
Everyone here at AIP Insure hopes you have a happy (and safe!) holiday season!