With all of the decorations, shopping, parties, and fun coming up with the holiday season, it’s important to be safe while also having fun. The best thing SafeWise can suggest for home safety during the holidays, as well as the rest of the year, is to have a monitored security system. But there are several other things you can do in addition to that to help keep your home and family safe. Here are five tips to help you do just that.
1. Keep your travel plans offline.
If you are planning to travel during the holiday season, be sure to keep your travel plans off your social media networks. Never post where you are going, when you are leaving, or when you will be back. This is prime information for a thief because he will know when your house will be empty. Even if you have the highest level of security on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, posting this personal information is never recommended.
2. Notify a neighbor.
If you are planning to go out of town during the holiday season, be sure to notify a trusted neighbor. Ask the neighbor to keep an eye on your house and report any suspicious activity. You’ll also want this neighbor to keep your walks cleared of snow and to pick up your mail and newspapers while you are away. Make sure your house looks like somebody is home to deter a burglar. Home automation is a great way to do this. Add a motion sensor light or use smart plugs and smart lightbulbs that let you control lights, TVs, and more from anywhere.
You probably want to keep gifts out of sight from children, but you also want to make sure gifts are hidden from a potential burglar as well. Putting pretty wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree looks nice, but it’s also an open invitation for a burglar. Try to keep your Christmas tree, with gifts underneath, away from windows or other places with a view. When you aren’t home, it’s easy to break through a window and grab all of your gifts.
And don’t forget to take care of gifts you haven’t received yet. Thieves like to strike when there’s an Amazon Prime delivery or other package left unguarded on the porch. Consider adding a doorbell cam or other outdoor security camera to help deter porch pirates. Another smart move is to give delivery people special instructions about where to leave packages. If you’re expecting lots of deliveries, consider renting out a package locker (Amazon Prime members have access for free) or investing in a secure drop box to keep on your porch.
4. Watch your Christmas lights.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the deadliest month for electrical fires. Before you string lights on the house or the tree, be sure to inspect the strands to make sure there aren’t any frayed cords or cracked lamps. Replace any broken lamps and throw away strands with frayed cords. This will help prevent any accidental fires. You’ll want to buy cords that have been tested by an independent laboratory, like the Underwriters Laboratory. Be sure to check the packaging to see that the manufacturer’s name and information are clearly marked.
Also, be sure to turn any holiday lights off when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed. Try using an outdoor timer or smart outlet to switch lights on and off. And it’s a good idea to review how to use a fire extinguisher and make sure yours is accessible and unexpired.
Heating-equipment, like furnaces and fireplaces, cause many deaths every year in the United States. In fact, in 2008, the U.S. Fire Administration reported approximately 2,650 people were killed by house fires. Take the time to have a professional inspect your furnace, clean out air ducts, and sweep the chimney before you need to heat your home.
This is also a great time to check the batteries on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Test these life-saving devices and check expiration dates. If needed, give yourself an early gift by upgrading to a smart smoke detector that can send you text or email alerts whenever it senses danger.
The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, as long as you stay safe during them. Be sure to take the precautions you need in order to fully enjoy the season.
Andréa is passionate about community advocacy. Before joining our team, she studied journalism at the University of Oregon and worked at local newspapers like Salt Lake City Weekly and the Ogden Standard-Examiner. As an Outreach Strategist, she helps SafeWise reach new communities nationwide with data-driven safety campaigns and educational resources. Learn more