Don’t Leave Your Home Unattended Without Taking These 7 Precautions
It’s summer and many people are getting away for some much earned r&r, but you don’t want that well deserved rest to be tarnished by worry over what’s going on at home. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your home safe and give you peace of mind whether you’re traveling far away or sticking around for a summer staycation. Here’s a list of some of our favorite tricks of the trade in home security. We’ve also put together a handy checklist that you can take with you.
Before you decide on home security methods, determine what safety mean to you? Home safety is a broad topic. While we are interested in package theft, we know that is just a part of keeping your home safe, and a good home security plan needs to take into account what a safe home means to you and what steps you need to take to get there. Any good home security checklist really needs to begin with this question. Is theft a major concern for you? What about natural disasters? Or maybe your home itself poses some potential dangers. If you’re concerned about home safety, then it’s worth making a list of your concerns across the whole field of home security.
- Contact Your Watchful Neighbors: Let your neighbors know you’ll be away, for how long and how they might reach you while you’re away. Having a friendly community in your neighborhood not only makes for a happier environment, but it also provides a social security net that is one of the most effective barriers to burglary, package theft, and other general mischief. We’ve written before about the security that neighbors can provide, and digital platforms can make it even easier to stay connected while you’re away. Neighbors are an important component of a security web because they develop a sense of what’s normal and what’s not, and if they’re primed to do so, they can often report suspicious activity before any would-be thief trips your security system. Besides keeping an eye on things, neighbors can help make your house look occupied. What neighborhood kid wouldn’t want to make a few extra bucks keeping your lawn mowed and collecting your mail while you’re away? This leads us straight into our second trick.
- Make Your Home Look Occupied: Nothing asks for a break in like unattended stuff. According to the US Department of State, making your home look occupied acts as a serious deterrent for the would-be criminal. Like most of us, people looking to commit burglary and theft calculate the risk and reward of their actions, and generally if the risk of getting caught outweighs the potential reward of stolen stuff, that person will move along to the next house or the next neighborhood. The more you can do to make your house look lived in and watched, the better your security situation will be. This might mean hiring a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn and collect your mail, or it might mean having a house sitter live there for the duration of your trip.
- Stop your mail and packages when you’re away. Not only do unattended packages make your home look unwatched, but they also present an opportunity for a porch pirate. Stopping mail and packages requires little more than contacting your post office or the major package delivery companies. Here’s a link to do just that!
- Lock it down: Keeping good locks on your windows and doors is important to prevent burglary. Here’s a great report from ABC News about tricks that burglars use to break in. Locking doors and windows includes the garage door and windows that are covered with screens. After all, it only takes a moment to remove a screen. Beyond locking your house, gates protecting walkways and alleys can help keep burglars away. Alley-gates are part of a technique called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which is basically considering how built spaces can prevent crime. Recent study by Roger Colins demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach. While gates and locks can be bypassed, they act as a great deterrent. Most burglars and others who would break in will likely pass over these obstacles and choose a less well protected house. As you install locks, consider investing in high security locks because standard locks often provide a false sense of security.
- Secure Your Home with Smart IOT & Gadgets: We’ve written at length about how gadgets can help secure your home. Security cameras and other connected devices, and using these devices can help make your home more secure. Having your home security system connected to the IOT, you’re able to monitor things when you’re away from your smart phone. If you do implement a lot of these connected gadgets, make sure you pay attention for updates. Hacking is a risk, but the companies that produce these devices have a vested interest in keeping them patched, so it’s on us to make sure those patches get applied to our devices.
- Install and Update Emergency Equipment: Keeping your home safe doesn’t just mean keeping it safe from burglars, but also being prepared for emergencies. Now, we’re not saying you should go full survivalist, but having some security equipment around is useful. Smoke alarms, for instance, cut the rate of death in house fires by 50%. It’s also a good plan to invest in fire extinguishers, as they are able to stop a fire early about 80% of the time. Your home is also safer if you keep a first aid kit on hand. Not only keeping it on hand, but know how to use it. Most branches of the Red Cross offer First Aid/CPR/First Responder certifications for about $100. This is no substitute for professional rescue services, but in the case of CPR, the sooner it can get started, the better.
- Have a Plan: Finally, having a plan for various crises is important. This might mean knowing how to contact family members or where to meet in the case of a fire. It might also include what neighbors to call if you’re going to be gone. In the case of most things that threaten home security, a bit of forethought goes a long way. Having a plan means being prepared and can include a lot of different things.
When you look at what security means to you, you can consider what steps you can take in advance to keep your home security. This could be as simple as keeping fresh batteries in smoke detectors and locks on doors and windows and knowing who will watch your home when you’re gone. It could be as complex as preparedness plans. In any case, it’s always better to plan in advance so that when a crisis does occur–a break-in or a fire or package theft–you already know what to do. And in some cases, a bit of preparation like using the Package Guard or setting up a security system can deter would-be burglars before they strike.