Curtains are open wide to show off the twinkling tree and the presents underneath it. Deliveries are left on the front porch when someone’s not there to accept the packages. Not to be a holiday killjoy, but the reality is that burglaries and home invasions spike at this time of year. It can also be the season for electrical and cooking fires. Use this quick guideline to keep your home safe during the holidays and throughout the year.
Locked Windows and Doors
Of course, you’ll remember to lock the doors behind you when you leave the house, whether it’s for a trip to the grocery store or a visit to family on Vancouver Island. Give your windows the same scrutiny – lock the windows, especially ones on the first floor and those on the upper floors of the house that can be accessed by a tree.
You’re busy baking cookies with the kids or getting the guest room ready for visitors. Get into the habit of locking the windows and doors even when you’re home.
Pathways and Stairs
It only takes a second to slip and fall on a small patch of ice. Keep pathways and stairs free of ice and snow. Don’t forget the driveways. Use salt as a deicer as opposed to kitty litter – salt melts ice and provides better traction.
Track everything that you’ve ordered online so that you can be home or schedule someone to be there on the day the delivery is expected. When no one can be home, give special instructions for the delivery person to avoid leaving items by the front door. Ask a neighbour to receive packages for you or have them delivered to your work address.
Be Power Smart
Be power smart both inside your home and out: it will help cut down on your power usage and prevent disasters such as an electrical fire or a home invasion from occurring.
- Use power strips and extension cords wisely
- Limit the number of items plugged into each power bar
- Don’t overload outdoor sockets
- Any extension cords, whether used indoors or outdoors, should be securely fastened to avoid becoming a tripping hazard
- Do not use appliances, strings of lights, etc. if the cord is frayed
- Replace burnt-out bulbs
- Ensure Christmas lights are working properly
- Put lights on timers – it will save you from having to remember to turn them off; if you’re away from home for the holidays, it will help burglars think there’s someone home
Alarms and Fire Extinguishers
Any alarms such as smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide detectors should be maintained annually. But it won’t hurt to inspect them before the holidays just to make sure they are fully functional.
The same goes for any fire extinguishers in your home. Check the expiry date to see if it’s current.
Don’t have any fire extinguishers? Every home should have at least one in or near the kitchen since most house fires typically start there. A general rule of thumb is one fire extinguisher per floor; for example, if your house has two stories and a finished basement, you would purchase three extinguishers for your home.
General Security Measures
Whether you’re staying home for the holidays or you will be away from the house, use these security measures to prevent burglars from entering your home.
- If you have a security system ensure it’s in perfect working order.
- Don’t put spare keys underneath the welcome mat or a planter – instead leave keys with a friend, neighbour or family member
- If your Christmas tree is visible from the street, keep the curtains closed or place presents under the tree just before the big day
- When planning to be out of town for three or more days, arrange to have someone check the mailbox for junk mail, clear off the front steps, or even park their car in the driveway to give your home that lived-in look
- Post vacation news and pictures after the fact – don’t announce holiday plans on social media
- Before getting rid of boxes and putting them into recycling bins, especially ones for big-ticket items, make sure that all address labels have been removed