Greetings everyone, I hope all is well with you and your families. This week I will cover some simple things you can do to make your home more secure, not only for the holidays, but also for year-round home security. I know that some readers celebrate the upcoming holidays and others do not. This are helpful tips nonetheless.
Holiday tree tips
• If you are someone who enjoys a live tree, here are a couple things to keep in mind if you purchase a pre-cut tree from a retailer. Look for a tree that, when shaken, loses only a few needles. Most trees are grown out of state so they can be up to a week old before you purchase them.
• Cut one inch off the bottom so you have fresh plant tissue to absorb water.
• Use a stand that can hold at least one liter of water. Your tree will need water daily.
• Limit the amount of heat your tree receives. Keep it away from your forced air heating vents or wall heaters.
• Artificial trees are not fireproof, but are often fire resistant. Inspect these trees yearly for loose items that can pose a choking hazard to a child or pet.
• Consider buying a live, plantable tree. There are potted trees you can plant outdoors in the spring.
• Invest in LED holiday lights. They cost more but they last much longer and do not get hot.
• If you use traditional lights, replace them each year. They are not designed for long-term use.
Tips to safeguard your home from theft
• Keep your holiday items inside, away from public view from the street.
• Never announce the purchase of a high-ticket item on social media.
• If you plan to be away from home, do not announce this on social media.
• “Hide-a-key” devices are one thing cat burglars look for, so avoid them.
• Use wood dowels as an extra layer of security to keep windows secure. Measure your window frames top to bottom or side to side depending on how they open. All of our local retailers can cut the dowels to size.
• Install deadbolts for all exterior doors, and if possible, use solid doors instead of hollow core doors. Deadbolts can range in price from $15.99 up to $600.00. If you can, have your lock custom-keyed, which costs about $30.00 per lock. This will prevent bump keys, a tool burglars use to gain entry, from working.
• Reinforce your door jambs with a steel jamb kit. These provide a steel barrier that is almost impossible to break open. They cost about $30.00 at major online retailers. Measure your jamb to ensure a proper fit, as they come in various widths.
• Arrange for packages to be shipped to your P.O. Box. If this is not possible, use a trusted friend or your workplace for UPS and FedEx delivery. Note that federal law requires that the USPS verify your identity when picking up packages. If they are not doing so, ask why not.
• Never leave notes on the front door stating that you are gone.
• Invite a friend to park at your house, this will give the illusion that someone is home while you are away, even if just for the day.
• Break up boxes from high value items. A big screen TV box next to your trash is a big giveaway to what’s inside your house.
• Photo-document your home for insurance purposes. Use an engraver to mark tools and other items that can be easily pawned. Make up a secret code only you know as your engraving mark or use your cattle brand.
• A small safe for small keepsakes and jewelry can be purchased online for under $100.00. These can be bolted to a closet floor.
• All these do-it-yourself items can be installed on your own in less than two hours total. If done by a professional, keep this time estimate in mind so you don’t get overcharged. If they provide the supplies, ask for a detailed bid to include parts and labor. A five percent markup is standard. Any more than this amount should be challenged. Remember the golden rule: If a contractor wants your gold, they have to play by your rules.
General Safety Tips
• Know where your breaker box is and have your box labeled.
• Know where your water shut-off is and how to operate it.
• Know how to shut off your propane and or natural gas line valve at your home.
• Have a first aid kit and take a first aid course.
• Develop your own “I am OK” text code words for use in natural disasters. Use one word to indicate “OK,” one for “Home,” one for “I need help.” Each family member can use the same code since each one has a separate cell phone number.