Keep Your Home Safe during the Holidays

When living in Metro Vancouver, keeping your home safe can be a major concern. It’s important to keep you, your family, and your home protected, especially during the holiday season. If you’re spending the holidays in Whistler for a week, visiting your parents over the weekend, hosting parties and dinners, or having out-of-town guests staying with you, follow these simple guidelines to give yourself peace of mind and keep everyone safe during the holidays.

Upgrade Locks

If you haven’t done it for some time or if it has never been done before, this winter is a good time to check the locks on entry doors and windows to see if they are in good shape and working properly.

Is it time to upgrade the hardware? Any type of lock on entry doors or the windows, especially ones on the ground floor, should be replaced if they are worn or beyond repair.

Always make sure your doors are locked, of course when you leave the house, but also when you’re at home – when you’re busy doing laundry in the basement or cleaning the upstairs bedrooms, you might not hear an intruder.

Get into the habit of locking windows after you close them – if there are children in the house (resident or visiting), it will provide an additional level of home security. Never leave windows open when you leave the house, even ones on the second floor.

Smoke Alarms, CO2 Detectors, and Fire Extinguishers

Municipalities in Metro Vancouver require at least one hard-wired or battery operated smoke alarm in every dwelling. Check the unit to see if batteries have been installed: if they have, check to see they are working; if not ensure they are installed correctly.

Any carbon monoxide detector in your home should be checked annually – if you’ve inspected it earlier in the year it doesn’t hurt to check it again before the holidays.

If you have a fire extinguisher, inspect it to ensure the expiry date is valid and it is in working order.

Turn off Appliances when You Leave the House

Don’t leave a pot of soup simmering on the stove or the washing machine/dryer running. When you won’t be around to monitor the kitchen or laundry room, err on the side of caution and turn off appliances that generate heat such irons, toaster ovens, and portable space heaters before leaving the house.

In Case of an Emergency

Take that saying to heart, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” In case of a fire or some other type of emergency, have an evacuation plan in place. When you have to leave the house in a hurry it’s important for everyone to know what to do.

Make a list of all emergency phone numbers and ensure it’s accessible to everyone should the power go out. It might seem like a no-brainier – the only number you’ll need is 911. But if you have to vacate your home in a hurry, you should know how to contact your family doctor, other family members, neighbours, teachers, and anyone else who will be able to help.

Put the Lights on Inside and Out

Whether you’ll be away from your home during the holidays or just out for the evening, use timers to turn lights on and off in different parts of the house to make it appear as though someone is home

Install outdoor lighting on either side of or above entry doors. Line a pathway or driveway with lights to make it easier and safer for guests and visitors.

Select outdoor lighting that is bright – burglars and intruders tend to avoid well-lit places.

Hand out Spare Keys Sparingly

Each member of your immediate family should have a key to the house. However, think carefully about who will have access to your home.

If someone will be house sitting or going inside to water the plants give them a key, but get it back once you have returned home from your vacation.

When people stay over, give a spare key to one specific person, preferably an adult.

Never leave a spare key under the mat or in a planter.