'Tis the season of office parties, holiday performances, and sh opping until you drop. It's also the season for porch thieves and others who take advantage of this time of gift giving. Your first step toward protecting what matters most to you? At home and while you're out and about, keep your personal safety and home security top of mind.
Protect Your Holiday Purchases and Treasured Gifts
Reduce worry and enjoy peace of mind, knowing your home is safe from break ins. Follow these home security tips for making your home more secure during the holidays and year round:
Be aware of porch thieves. Unfortunately, porch piracy has been big news this year. Keep this in mind when shopping online or expecting gifts from faraway friends and family. If possible, have packages delivered to your office or require a signature for high-dollar items.
Avoid displaying gifts where they can easily be seen through windows.
Be careful when disposing of product packaging, so that you aren't "advertising" recent, big ticket purchases, such as TVs, etc.
Secure objects that might allow access to your home, such as ladders or trashcans that could be used to break glass, enter a window or scale a fence.
Illuminate entries, with motion or automated lights.
Use your home automation system to turn lights on/off remotely or set a schedule so that your home is never dark or it appears that no one is home.
Secure all windows, including those on your second floor, and install deadbolt locks on exterior entrances.
Use or install peepholes and ask to see identification from service and delivery people. (Find more ways to stay safe when someone comes to the door.)
Give the ongoing gift of safety, security, and peace of mind to family members, especially elderly parents who live alone. Wireless, monitored security systems, with alerts you set and video monitoring, have become extremely affordable the past few years and are quick and easy to have installed.
Parking Lot Safety and Mall Security Tips
Some safety steps are common sense, but it's easy to lose track and become too relaxed in the hustle, bustle and joy of the season. Keep your holiday shopping fun and worry free with these suggestions and review them with family members before heading to the mall or neighborhood shops.
Always lock your vehicle. Always.
Park in well-lit areas close to your destination. Avoid shopping alone, but it you do, watch for safe groups to walk out with or ask security for an escort to your car. Carry your keys in your hand to use as a weapon if necessary and avoid being distracted by talking on your cell phone or digging for your keys while walking.
Be aware of your surroundings and don't carry so many packages or bags that you can't see or react if needed.
When you enter your car, lock the doors first, fasten your seat belt next, and then get going, without lingering too long.
Avoid leaving purchases in plain site within your vehicle. If you must store them and go back into the store, be sure to move your vehicle to a new spot in case someone is watching.
When in doubt, leave valuables or bank cards you won't be using safely at home. Also know that the trunk of your car is not always the best place to leave a purse if you don't want to carry it. If someone can get into your vehicle, they can access the trunk. Keep copies of your cards in a file at home for easy reporting if they are stolen.
Also store any electronic equipment or valuables out of sight, including any power cables or mounts that may offer a clue that a device is hidden in your car.
Pick restrooms in well-lit and well-trafficked areas of the mall. Always accompany children and the elderly to the restroom.
Always know where the closest exit is located in case of fire or another emergency.
Attract attention by talking loudly or yelling if you are approached by a stranger. Then, return to the store and alert an employee.
If you witness a crime and can get a license plate number, enter the number into your cell phone and hit send. This will store the number in your call log, which you can then share with authorities.
It seems obvious, but avoid leaving a purse in a shopping cart and stepping away. It's best to keep your purse on you and zipped or closed so that others can't have easy access if you are distracted. Or, secure the strap to your cart and keep it in front of you at all times.
Check your local police and sheriff department's website or Consumer Reports for more tips and consider forming a Neighborhood Watch program.
Protect Your Home from Breaks Ins, Carbon Monoxide, Fire, or Water Damage
Your home security service or smart home automation system, backed by an alarm monitoring center, also can protect your home, family, and valuables from other dangers. If you're unsure of how to make the most of your security system, ask your alarm provider for additional training. Our top tips for making your alarm system work harder for you and protect your property:
Consider a monitored smoke sensor to alert you and if there is smoke or fire in your home 24/7. Your alarm monitoring center can contact emergency personnel whether you are home or not or if you are unable to call for help.
Monitored carbon monoxide detectors also ensure emergency assistance is on the way if levels of this dangerous gas become high in your home.
Wireless cameras with video monitoring can help deter and catch any would-be criminals. Live streaming video also provides added peace of mind, allowing you to check in on family members or pets when you're away – from your smartphone, laptop, tablet or Apple Watch.
Take advantage of your wireless security system and remotely control access to your home, locking or unlocking doors, and turning lights on or off so your home appears occupied.
Keep an eye on your front door to see who's visiting or when packages arrive, using your home security cameras.
Use interactive security services, such as our Alert 360 option, to receive warning when water is present or temperatures change drastically.
Being aware of potential dangers and criminal activity can be the first step in protecting your home, family and valuables year round. Follow these tips to ensure your family, home and valuables are safe and secure this holiday season.