The holiday season is upon us. Nationally, crime spikes over the holidays as it is dark earlier, homes fill with gifts, and activities take us away from our homes more often. Please make sure to secure your property and protect yourself and your family while you are away from home. Below are precautionary steps to follow:
- Watch Out for Social Media: Be very careful about what you post. Do not share travel plans or schedule, as you never know who is reading this. Pass this tip onto your children. Also, beware of identity theft as well; protect your personal information online, over the telephone, or when out in public.
- Doors, Windows, and Locks: Be sure your doors are locked, including the door from the garage into the house, as many burglaries occur through an unlocked door or window.
- Light It Up: Thieves do not want to be seen. Exterior lights on all sides of your home (especially motion activated) are a great deterrent to intruders. Use automatic timers to control lights in your home.
- Know Your Neighbors: Neighbors watching out for neighbors is the best crime deterrent imaginable! Encourage your neighbors to report suspicious behavior.
- Mail, papers, and deliveries: When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up mail and newspapers. Cancel or re-direct to a safe location all deliveries.
- Close Those Curtains! Holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
- Remember Hide Lock Take: Hide your things, Lock your Car and Take your Keys. This is as important at home as well as when you are away.
- Never Drink and Drive! Eat before consuming alcoholic beverages, remember only time will eliminate alcohol from the body, know your safe limit, and always have a designated driver.
- Know your surroundings! Always be aware of surroundings and ask for an escort or go to a public or well-lit place, and dial 9-1-1, if you feel suspicious of anyone.
- Children: Never allow children to return to the vehicle alone and they should never be left unattended in a vehicle. Teach your children their full name, address and/or telephone number should they get lost or separated from you.
Have a Safe and Wonderful Holiday Season!
1) Think Like a Burglar. Look objectively at your home and try to find a way in. Ladder left outside? Put it away. Shrubs to hide behind, or trees to climb that give access to upstairs? Vents? Dog doors? Get creative – and sneaky! Since burglars are increasingly cutting phone lines, you’re in great shape with safer cellular monitoring.
2) Watch Out for Social Media. Be very careful about what you post – you never know who is reading your travel plans or your party schedule, and criminals have become very savvy about using Facebook and other social media to chart your whereabouts. Pass this tip onto your children. And beware identity theft as well: this is a favorite time of year for fake charities to part you from your money, and from your SSN, credit card numbers, etc.
3) Doors, Windows, and Locks. The front or back door is the most common point of entry by a burglar. Be sure your doors are locked: as many as 40% of burglaries occur through an unlocked door or window. Remember to use that deadbolt to back up the primary lock. Unlocked ground floor windows are a frequent point of entry, especially at the back and sides of the house. For home security owners, one glassbreak sensor can cover many windows in an area. The door from the garage into the house also deserves a good lock – preferably a deadbolt.
This also applies to your vehicles. Unlocked vehicles, with valuables left inside, invite thieves.
4) Keys and Keychains. Chances are your hidden key is not so hard to find: have your friends guess –you’ll likely need to be a bit more creative. And don’t put an address on your keys. A keychain without an address is useless to a burglar, but with your address it’s a personalized invitation to your home. Some folks even recommend removing your home address from your vehicle GPS, in case your car is stolen: use a nearby address instead.
5) Light It Up. The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen. Exterior lights (especially the ones that are activated by motion) are a great deterrent to intruders, who focus on the rear and sides of your home – which is why alarm company professionals focus on those areas when designing a good system. And use interactive services to control the lights in your home, set to go on at different or even random times.
6) Know Your Neighbors. It really helps if we are looking out for each other. Are any of your neighbors staying home – and could they keep an eye on your home? Perhaps they’ll even park a car in your driveway. Encourage neighbors to report suspicious behavior – to a would-be burglar, a patrolling squad car is a very powerful message to “Move on!”
7) Papers, Mail, etc. Nothing is more inviting to a bad guy than the “We’re away!” message. And speaking of neighbors, they appreciate it if your house looks loved and lived-in. Cancel deliveries or task a friend to keep things ship-shape. You can repay the favor and do the same for a neighbor when they leave town!
8) Close Those Curtains! Make it harder to see the expensive presents that are accumulating under the tree. And once the computers and fancy electronics come out of their boxes, think hard about when you put those boxes outside: they are a clear advertisement for burglars casing the neighborhood.
9) Arm your Alarm System. Just as with your door and window locks, even the best alarm system is no help unless it’s used. Believe it or not, almost half the people with alarm systems do not arm them on a regular basis. When you are completely out of the home, remember to arm the system in the “Away” mode – that way, all your sensors are engage.
10) Never Drink and Drive! Be aware that many people on the roads this season may very well be intoxicated.
Remember these lessons about alcohol:
• Alcohol is the same, no matter what form it takes. A 12 oz. can of beer has roughly the same amount of alcohol as a 6 oz. glass of wine and a 1.5 oz. shot of whiskey.
• Alcohol takes time to metabolize out of your system. Drinking coffee won’t speed up that time one bit.
• Be aware that drinking on an empty stomach will allow the alcohol to enter your bloodstream much faster.
• Know what you are drinking. If you don’t know exactly what is contained in that holiday punch, you could be consuming much more alcohol than you imagined.
Keep your holidays safe and festive. Don’t allow a poor choice to ruin the holidays for you.
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