Home Safety Tips for Summer Vacation (Part 2)
Especially during the warm summer months, it is common that windows will be left open and unlocked. An open window visible from the road or a nearby pathway can make your home a target, particularly if it is on the ground floor. Upper floor windows can also attract activity if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies. Since windows have latches instead of locks, secondary blocking devices should be used to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows. If you need ventilation, keep the opening to six inches and make sure that the dowel can’t be reached from the outside. Anti-lift devices are a good idea for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally.
Look out for your neighbors
Get to know the neighbors on either side of you and the three directly across the street; invite them into your home and establish trust. Ask your neighbors to watch for unusual activity around your house while you are away and do small tasks to help keep up the appearance that you are home. Neighbors can report suspicious activity to the police and help to continue regular household activities such as mowing the lawn and picking up the mail. They may also park in your driveway to give the appearance that someone is home. A trusted neighbor should be given a key to your home to avoid leaving a key under the mat or above a ledge. Do the same for your neighbors.
A dark home several nights in a row indicates you are away. Set light timers near front and back windows to match your usual light usage while you are away; it is not a bad idea to use light timers on a daily basis. When you set a light routine your neighbors may become accustomed to your pattern which means that they could become suspicious when the light usage is different than normal. You can also use light timers to turn radios and televisions off and on.
Exterior lighting can be a deterrent to a burglar trying to break into your home. Install lights that are bright enough to see 100-feet. Important areas to light are the front and back doors, the garage door, and along the pathways and the perimeter of your home. Do not leave your outdoor lights on all day as it is an indication that you are away. Security lights with infra-red or heat sensors are a good safety tool and can be used instead of regular porch or other outdoor lights.
Alarm systems are an effective tool in preventing home break-ins if they are used properly. The more homes with an alarm system in a neighborhood the bigger the deterrent because burglars know that they increase the chances that they will be caught. The deterrent comes from placing the alarm company lawn sign in your yard and from the alarm decals on the windows.
- Never write your alarm pass code on or near the alarm keypad
- Ensure your alarm is properly installed and maintained
- Purchase an alarm that will also monitor for fire
- Purchase an alarm with a loud horn or bell but that resets after two minutes
Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date and instruct your neighbor on how to respond to an alarm bell.
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