With Thanksgiving under our belts (in a literal sense!), the holiday season is in full swing. Travel, busy party schedules, and shopping can leave homes unoccupied: this is the perfect time to make sure your property is secure, and to give yourself some well-deserved peace of mind while you are away from home – even if you’re just at the mall. Since we know that crime does spike over the holidays, it’s essential for every homeowner to take a few simple precautionary steps. This top ten home security checklist only takes a few minutes to review, and it’s definitely worth your time.
- Doors 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. The door from the garage into the house also deserves a good lock – preferably a deadbolt. Here’s a link to a great post on where intruders break in.
- Windows. Check all your window locks – especially on windows that are easily accessible from the ground. Unlocked 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. And don’t forget your basement – window bars are good, and a good alarm system protects the basement even better.
- 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.
- 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 lights on timers in your home, set to go on at different times.
- 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 them to report suspicious behavior – to a would-be burglar, a patrolling squad car is a very powerful message to “Move on!”
- 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. And remember to think twice about posting your whereabouts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Sharing too much information on social media presents its own risk.
- 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! For those considering home security systems: burglars do cut phone lines, so always choose safer cellular monitoring.
- Fire, Low Temperature, and Water. Today’s home alarm systems can monitor all types of environmental conditions. Fire monitoring is a good place to start: when you’re away, those “noisemaker” alarms won’t do much good. Some systems can even alert you by text or email for events like low temperature, to help you avoid frozen pipes – or alert you if water does accumulate in your basement.
- Alarm Company Signs. Here are a couple of scary stats: (1) the FBI reports that there is a burglary in the US every 15 seconds, and (2) without a monitored alarm systems you are three times more likely to experience a break-in as your neighbor with a system – and that deterrence starts with yard or fence signage and window decals. Make it clear you’re protected, and reduce the risk by encouraging that perp to find another target.
- 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 engaged.
These are ten recommendations that we like – but you may have others, and we encourage you to share them here. What makes you feel more secure at home?
For some people it’s a dog: for others it could be bars on the windows. The approach can be very personal. FrontPoint does offer a universal solution, with home security that is safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable than other systems – and while protecting our homes and families has never been more important, it’s never been this easy.