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The holiday season is upon us and people are out and about getting ready for the festivities. Holiday parties are on practically everyone’s list either as hosts or guests. However, this time of year is also a peak crime season. Taking advantage of home security alarm and monitoring while routinely locking doors can prevent most crimes of opportunity during the holidays.
Most crimes are ones of opportunity. They are committed by thieves wanting to illegally gain from others with the least amount of risk to themselves. Holiday parties usually have guests filling up driveways and parking on streets. More than one home in the neighborhood may have a holiday party the same evening. It gets dark earlier providing cover of night for criminal activity, and people sometimes forget to lock their doors and keep their valuables out of sight.
This is equally true for homes and automobiles. People routinely leave valuable items such as cell phones and GPS units in plain sight in vehicles while forgetting to lock doors. Some partygoers may be asked to leave keys in their cars in case the vehicles need to be moved. During a party, guests coming and going leave home doors unlocked. This allows open access for thieves to quickly steal valuables seen through windows.
Whereas breaking a window of a home or vehicle to grab valuables may bring unwanted attention, an unlocked door is like an open invitation to thieves. Since most criminals are opportunists looking for an easy score, deny them the privilege by keeping doors locked and never leave keys in a vehicle. The holidays are also a peak season for vehicle theft.
Holiday Party Security Protocols
Tell guests to lock their car doors. Tell them that the doors of the home are also to remain locked. Advise them to stick to using one entrance to go in and out, and have someone monitor that door. Use the home security monitoring system on chime alert so that a sound is triggered at the alarm panel each time a door or window is opened. Investigate a chime when it is not caused by the designated entry and exit door being opened.
Security alarm and monitoring systems that include surveillance cameras at front doors are great for identifying who is there before opening doors. Home invaders take advantage of situations where guests are coming and going. Parties where known guests are permitted to bring friends unknown to the homeowner are a greater risk.
Be sure to check every door and window before retiring to bed to make sure that none have been accidentally or even intentionally left unlocked. There has been more than one party where a guest has set up the home for a later burglary attempt days after the party ends.
Advertise Home Security Measures
Since most burglars and home invaders are looking for targets that are going to provide the least resistance, prominently display yard signs and decals that announce that the home is protected with an active home security and monitoring system. Though it is tempting to show off the Christmas tree through the open curtains of the living room window facing the street, opt to keep the curtains drawn to deny prying eyes a look at the goodies inside the home.
Be certain that every bulb in the motion detector lights is functional. Check the point of view of any surveillance cameras. Trim back any hedges or other vegetation that block a clear view. Have the angle of view adjusted for any cameras where views may have been altered due to windy weather. Proper planning for home security leads criminals to bypass the protected home for an easier target elsewhere.
Once a vital source of lighting in centuries past, candles today are a beautiful part of holiday celebrations, but their use does present an increase in fire danger in the average home. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that emergency fire crews respond to thousands of home structure fires each year because of accidental fires started by candles. These fires result in hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage and significant loss of life, as well as hundreds of injuries.
Danger in the Bedroom
At least a third of all candle fires start in the bedroom, and these fires cause a significant percentage of the injuries, casualties, and damage associated with candle fires. Most candle manufacturers recommend that candles shouldn’t be burned any more than about four hours at a time. Falling asleep with a nearby candle may allow a candle to burn for many more hours and increase the potential for fire danger.
Removing Sources of Flammable Materials
The United States Fire Administration suggests that over half of all the fires started by candles occur because a flammable item was placed too close to the candle. There are many flammable materials in the average home, such as mattresses and bedding, which are often too close to a candle that burns on a bedside table and catches fire while an unfortunate victim sleeps.
Candles should never be placed close to anything that may burn, like curtains, bedding, or holiday decorations. Placing a candle on a clean surface that is well away from flowing and flammable materials like curtains is essential for reducing the chance that an uncontrolled candle fire might start. Highly flammable materials can create a swift fire that barely gives the home security monitoring alarms a chance to notify home occupants that a fire has started.
Never Leave Candles Alone
Using preventative measures is a much safer way to use candles than leaving it up to the smoke detectors and the security alarm monitoring service. By the time the smoke detector starts its siren, the family might have less than a minute to exit the home, and if there are children or elderly residents in the house, successful evacuation could be almost impossible.
The National Candle Association (NCA) suggests that someone should be in the room when a candle burns. If everyone must leave the room, the NCA recommends that all candles are extinguished and never left alone to burn. Even if a candle is placed well away from flammable sources, fire is an unpredictable element and may not behave as expected.
Reinforce Security Measures
With the increased use of fireplaces and candles in the winter holiday season, homeowners should check the home security monitoring devices regularly. The NFPA data suggests that around two-thirds of the home fires that caused a death occurred in structures with no working smoke alarms or smoke detectors on the premises.
Installation of these devices is a vital method for reducing the chance that a candle fire might begin and make it impossible for a family to escape. After a smoke detector starts ringing, an occupant has only a few minutes to evacuate before issues of smoke inhalation and fire make escape impossible. A security alarm monitoring company can easily install detectors in every vital spot in the home to keep the family safe from an accidental candle fire.
Tens of millions of Americans travel during the holiday season, and that means an incredible number of vacant houses over the November and December holidays. Homeowners and apartment dwellers need to take active steps to reduce the likelihood of burglary or theft during an absence with smart practices and residential security systems.
Travel and Empty Homes
The Automobile Association of America (AAA) suggests that over 43 million people will drive, fly, or travel at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving holidays. Many more families are also expected to travel during December and into January as the country celebrates the arrival of 2014. Empty homes and increased purchasing activity for the holidays create a significant lure for thieves and require residential security systems to work overtime.
Creating an Illusion and Theft Deterrent
For families that plan to be away for the holidays, there are some easy ways to reduce the potential for theft, and most of these methods cost very little or are even free. Ensuring that an empty home is less attractive for burglars starts with making it appear as though the home isn’t actually empty. This might mean installing timers on the lights. Today’s timers can also be hooked up to items like the television or the radio that should improve the illusion that someone is at home.
It’s also essential that the home looks no different from the way it does when the family is at home. Closing all the shades and blinds isn’t a good idea unless that’s something a homeowner does regularly. A thief will often observe a home before attempting a burglary, and any change in behavior, such as several days of closed drapes, may indicate that no one is home.
Additional protection is available from a home security alarm system that includes glass break detectors that will notify a homeowner or the security monitoring company of unauthorized entry.
Keep Maintenance Schedules Intact
An overgrown lawn and a pile of unread newspapers sitting at the door are one of the most visible signs that there is no one at home. For any absence that may last longer than a few days, make sure that the mail and newspapers are put on hold. Most homes won’t require lawn maintenance during the winter; however, for anyone who lives in a warmer climate, ensure lawn care schedules remain active during the family’s absence.
Don’t Broadcast the Absence
The internet and social media have made it easier for families and friends to remain connected despite large distances, but it’s also made it a lot easier for thieves to figure out when a family might be gone from their home. Never broadcast the absence to everyone through Twitter or Facebook and only let close friends or family know about the travel before it begins. In addition, never post pictures during the vacation. Wait until the vacation or holiday visit is over to share those holiday adventures with friends.
The best defense against holiday burglaries is attention paid to a variety of home security rules and devices. Ensure the home security alarm system is active by testing it before departure and make sure that items like surveillance cameras and locks are in working condition. As an added layer of protection, let close friends and family know about the absence so that they might keep an eye on the residence.