It’s a good thing if you feel safe in your neighborhood. It shows that you trust your neighbors and that you have faith in the safety of your family. However, many of us grow so comfortable that we overlook simple security measures that will only improve the safety of your property and your family. Each year in the U.S. there are millions of property crimes carried out. Burglary accounts for a large amount of these crimes. People often say that if a burglar wants to gain entry to your home they’ll find a way and determine not to take security measures seriously. If you’re of the “it couldn’t happen to me” mentality, read no further. But if you want to learn some basic tools and practices that will keep you and your family safer, read on.
Be the burglar
Not literally. But pretend to be. Go through the exterior of your house and think like a burglar. Check your windows. Especially the low-hanging ones. Are all of your locks secured? Do you make it a point to lock them nightly? Test your locks. Not all locks are created equal. Doorknob locks are often easily picked or forced open. Deadbolts are harder. However, none of these things matter if the integrity of your door is compromised. French doors, for example, are particularly easy to force open. If you’re worried about your locks, consult a locksmith that can help you choose better options. Look inside your home from the sidewalk. Are there valuables within view from the street? Do you have a tendency to leave your garage door open, exposing expensive items like lawnmowers, grills, or even motorcycles? Burglars don’t just target homes. Don’t end your search with the house. Many items are stolen from sheds, backyards, and even off of porches, which happened to me as a child when a bicycle was taken from our porch in the night.
Tighten up security
The number of small steps we can take to improve security and mitigate risk of burglary is boundless. Here are some security tips that should be on every checklist for home safety:
- Use a security mailbox and don’t leave mail with personal information exposed in front of your home
- Install a fireproof safe in your home. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Keep your important documents in the safe, and better yet, keep them backed up in a secure file on the cloud like Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Use motion light detectors. When calibrated correctly they won’t go off for every car or cat that happens by and they’re a great theft deterrent.
- Tell your neighbors if you’re going out of town, and have someone take in your mail/newspapers for you. Keep a kitchen light on and a car parked in the driveway if possible.
- Don’t leave spare keys under the rug or anywhere obvious. Also, keep tabs on all of the keys to your home. Know who has a copy and check up on the spare keys on occasion.
Vacationing is a time to relax and enjoy time with your loved ones, friends or even yourself. Avoid the stresses of trying to remember whether or not you did everything you needed to do before you leave by being proactive. Leave the house to board the plane to paradise…or your in-laws for the holidays worry-free.Here is a list of things to do before you go away to make sure your house is all set while you’re gone:
- Ask for a Friend: If you are going to be gone for longer than a few days, it’s probably wise to ask a friend, neighbor or family member to stop by and check on your house. They can grab the mail and newspaper, water plants, and make sure the house is still standing. Consider paying someone to stay at your home full-time to take care of your pets. Generally, it will be cheaper than boarding them and you won’t be displacing them while you’re away.
- Do NOT post on social media: Social media is a staple for many to share their life, but it’s best not to post on social media that you will be heading off to the Caribbean for a week— unless you have someone staying at your house full-time. This gives burglars the perfect opportunity to break into your home.
- Remove spare keys: It’s best to give the person watching your home the spare key and have them hold onto it and remove additional spares key. There are rarely any creative spots to hide spare keys and leaving it under your welcome mat is asking for someone unwanted to enter your home.
- Timer lights: Invest in a timer for your lights. If your lights turn on periodically, it will look like someone is at home. It will also save you money compared to if you were to leave your lights on constantly while away.
- Unplug appliances/electronics: Unplug anything that will not be used while you are on vacation. This includes toasters, computers, printers, television, etc. Even though they are not on they could still be using up energy.
- Close windows/lock doors: Remembering to close your windows and lock your doors sounds like it would be easy, but it’s probably not the first thing on your mind when going on vacation. Set a reminder on your phone to check all of your windows, making sure they are locked if low to the ground, and locking the doors that you are not exiting from.
- Use a safe: If you have a safe or locked drawer, it’s very wise to place important things into it while you’re gone. Important paperwork, jewelry, and emergency money that you leave around the house are all items that you should be putting a safe place, such as a safe or locked drawer.
Some other things to do before leaving for a vacation are to contact your credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling, turn off water if traveling for a significant amount of time (but be careful of freezing pipes), and to, of course, remember your wallet and I.D. Ensure you have a worry-free vacation follow the steps below and have fun!