The holiday season is usually spent with friends and family celebrating cultural and religious traditions. However, it’s also a time that sees an uptick in criminal activities, and the combination of travel, increased package deliveries, and a preoccupied mindset can create vulnerabilities for homeowners. So, you need to keep your home safe during holidays and this post will show you how.
During the holidays, malicious actors looking for easy targets and quick thefts have more opportunities than usual, as many homeowners are out shopping and leaving obvious clues that they’ve been buying valuable items. Besides that, many homes are adorned with festive decorations, lit candles, cheerful lights, etc. There’s much going on, and it’s no surprise people forget basic holiday safety tips.
Knowing how to keep your home safe during the holidays can help avoid having a holiday ruined by an accident or robbery. This guide will explore practical and effective strategies to help enhance your home’s safety during the holidays.
Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays
Home burglaries are common during the holiday season because thieves know that people do a lot of shopping during this joyous time. They also know homeowners go on long holiday trips to get peace away from the hectic city life.
However, you don’t need to worry; you can secure your home during the holidays with the tips outlined in this guide.
- Strengthen All Entryways That Lead Into Your House
It’s important to strengthen the doors, windows, and other entryways into your home. You do this because burglars exploit weak targets in doors and windows. So, if they are inappropriately reinforced, burglars will access your home even if all entry points are locked.
Consider adding a deadbolt to the entryway doors. If you have sliding glass doors, install locks that wedge between the door and the track so it can be challenging to open from the outside.
- Never Announce Your Travel Plans Online
Many individuals travel during the holidays. While sharing photos and fun moments on social media is an excellent way to include friends and family in your adventure, those posts alert burglars that your house is empty. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post on social media while on vacation, but you should think hard about who can view your posts.
Consider the privacy settings on social media posts to avoid advertising your absence to anyone seeing your posts. It’s okay for close friends and family to see the highlights of your vacation. Still, using a group text or private chat
would be better than posting on social media.
- Relocate any Hidden Keys.
Most homeowners have a hidden key under a welcoming mat, a plant, or other decorative item on the front door. Retrieve the key and lock it in a safe place in the house. Since you won’t be at home, there’s no reason to hide the key outside. Seasoned burglars know that homeowners often hide keys, so they’ll look for an easily accessible one around your front door when they want to break in.
- Install a Home Security System
Standard home security alarms include sensors on easily accessed windows and entry doors and motion-activated sensors for outdoor spaces. These systems are a perfect deterrent for burglars and are relatively easy to use.
It would be better to install a home automation system that lets you access a security system via a smartphone or computer application. A comprehensive security system often includes outdoor cameras, automated lighting, and an alarm and monitoring system.
- Ask a Friend or Neighbor to Monitor Your Home
Ask your close friend or neighbor to monitor your home while you’re not around. Trusting this individual and knowing they’ll check in is very important. A next-door neighbor is the best option, as they are the most likely to discover unusual events. However, that’s not to say you should sacrifice convenience for trust. If you’re uncomfortable asking your neighbor to monitor your home, ask a family member or close friend.
- Ask Someone to Maintain Your Yard
Overgrown lawns and snow-covered driveways are suggestive signs of an empty home. Consider your friend’s time and provide compensation for these chores. For instance, if the neighbor you’ve requested to monitor your yard has a teenage child, consider paying their child to accomplish these tasks.
- Install Programmable Light Switches
Interior lights give an impression of an occupied home. However, leaving your lights on throughout the day while you’re away is not cost-effective. Consider having a programmable light switch to turn lights on and off at specific times of the day to save money and energy and serve as a deterrent against intruders.
Programmable light switches are a no-brainer for those leaving their valuable investment unsupervised.
- Hold Your Mail
Allowing mail to pile up near your front door is a clear sign that you’re out of town. Inform the post office that you’ll be away so they can hold your letters and packages until you return home. Most post offices offer this service for 30 days. Alternatively, you can ask your next-door neighbor to collect your mail if you don’t want to hold your mail altogether.
- Leave Window Coverings the Same
It applies to your blinds, curtains, or shutters that cover your windows. If you always leave your blinds open during the day, let them remain open when you’re not at home. Noticeable changes can alert would-be burglars that you’re away, like closing your curtains for one week when they are usually open.
- Check Your Pipes
If you stay in a cold area and leave when inclement weather is possible, ensure your pipes are well-insulated. Frozen pipes can significantly damage your home, and if no one is at home to examine them after cold weather, it can go unnoticed until you return.
Check the insulation of pipes in areas where they are more vulnerable to freezing, such as the attic and basement. Consider hiring a certified plumber to inspect your pipes if you are concerned about their insulation.
While you’re away, have a friend or neighbor check on your house and test the faucets. If no water emanates from the faucets, your pipes might be frozen. Request that they contact you right away if this occurs when you’re on vacation.
- Unplug Unnecessary Appliances
Before leaving, unplug the non-essential appliances in your home, like your coffee maker, microwave, stereo, and more. Doing so protects your home in case of a power surge or an electrical fire. It’s also an energy-efficient way to minimize your electrical usage while away.
- Turn Down the Temperature
Reducing the temperature is a wonderful strategy to save money on electricity and natural gas while on holiday. Adjust the thermostat’s temperature and lower the water heater’s temperature. Don’t turn your thermostat completely off. Instead, please set it to around 55 degrees for the winter and 80 degrees for the summer, depending on the climate in your local area.
Also, consider monitoring your heat from the comfort of your location. Installing a wireless thermostat is the most cost-effective way to monitor your heat from afar. You can monitor and program your wireless thermostat from your smartphone while away.
- Secure Your Garage Door
Intruders can easily access your home through a garage door. You can secure manual garage doors with a clamp or padlock to keep them from being opened. If you have an automatic garage door opener, turn it off to prevent anyone with a universal remote from opening it when you’re on vacation.
- Watch Your Christmas Lights
Fire hazards rise during the holiday season. Before adorning your house or tree with festive lights, inspect the strands for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed cords or cracked lamps. Replace damaged lamps and discard strands with frayed cords to avoid accidental fires.
If it’s time for new lights, choose cords that have undergone testing by an independent laboratory, like the Underwriters Laboratory. Ensure the packaging displays the manufacturer’s name and information.
- Keep a Car in the Driveway
Unless you must use your car to get to your vacation destination, leaving it in the driveway is a great way to enhance your home’s security during the holidays. The idea is to create an impression that you’re home, even when that’s not the case, so having a car parked in the driveway is the easiest way to do that.
If you must use your car to drive to your destination, ask a close friend or next-door neighbor to park their car in your driveway.
- Put Up a Decoy Security System
Though effective, security systems are relatively expensive. The average cost to install a reliable home security system is $470. However, prices can vary based on the specific equipment and services you pick for your home. However, you don’t necessarily need a security system if you create the impression that you have one in place.
By displaying decoy security signs and cameras in plain sight, you discourage trespassers from attempting to enter your home. Although we don’t recommend decoy security systems as your only method for securing your home, they help protect your valuable possessions while you’re away.
Tips for Staying Safe at Home During the Holidays
The holiday season presents an opportunity to gather at home and celebrate precious moments with friends and family. But it’s crucial to prioritize safety, no matter the holidays you cherish. Follow the tips below for safe and happy holidays:
Whether you start decorating early or wait until later, holiday decorations can help your home feel festive and get you in the spirit. Consider the following decor safety tips:
- Use caution when installing holiday lights
Holiday lights can make your home feel merry and bright. Ensure you install them and other electrical components rated for outdoor use in great condition. Stay on the ground if possible. If you must leave the ground, follow your ladder safety rules and avoid getting on a damp or snowy roof.
- Water your Christmas tree.
Although Christmas trees make our homes festive during the holidays, they can be a significant fire hazard if improperly maintained. Watering your Christmas tree to keep its needles from drying out is good, as it lowers the chances of a Christmas tree fire. It’s best to buy your tree when the holiday is close enough and water it more often.
- Beware of Festive Plants
While Christmas trees are common in many households for the holidays, they are unlikely to be the only festive greenery in your home during this joyous time. Be cautious if you have pets or kids and want to display holiday poinsettia, amaryllis, or Christmas cactus. Some of these festive plants are toxic.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, particularly during the holidays. Here are the kitchen safety tips for the holidays:
- Be careful while frying
Use caution when frying your favorite holiday dish. Grease fires can happen quickly but are unlikely to occur when you know the warning signs. Use a thermometer to monitor your oil temperature and remove the oil from the heat source when you see smoke. It’s equally important to keep a metal lid within arm’s reach in case of a fire and avoid smothering oil fires using water.
- Clean the stovetop area.
As you prepare your holiday feast, the kitchen can quickly become a bustling space. While it seems challenging, the key to safe holiday cooking is maintaining a decluttered working area, particularly around your stovetop and burners. Ensure the area is clear of things that could mistakenly fall onto the flames and catch fire, including tea towels.
- Maintaining a watchful eye
Yes, it would help to do some last-minute cleaning and greet guests, but these shouldn’t come at the cost of leaving cooking food unsupervised. If you should leave the kitchen, ask someone to go in and monitor the food. Alternatively, you can switch off the stove and immediately take things off the heat until you return.
Fireplace and Candle Safety
It would be best to exercise caution when dealing with open flames at home. Here’s what to know to stay safe:
- Begin the season with a clean fireplace
Cleaning your chimney and fireplace before you begin using it for the season is the simplest way to minimize the chances of fireplace accidents. Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, will accumulate in your chimney whenever you use the fireplace. It’s highly flammable, and by the season’s end, there can be enough to trigger a fire. You can avoid this risk by having your chimney swept at the start of each fireplace season.
Home Security Safety
Home theft and break-ins increase during the holidays. With porch pirates waiting to steal your holiday deliveries and burglars exploiting your absence, it pays to prioritize home safety during this period.
- Have a visible security system.
Discourage potential porch pirates and enhance your home safety by installing security cameras in plain sight. Most security system packs include signage, such as window stickers, which can help deter potential intruders.
Secure Large Decorations
Pets and kids are naturally curious. Pets, for example, explore new things in their surroundings by biting or jumping, making huge holiday items a major hazard. Imagine your Christmas tree toppling or a large holiday picture frame falling off. That’s a great concern if there’s a kid or pet below. It’s best to secure such decor pieces in place when decorating your house.
Choose Age-Appropriate Toys
Before you decide what to give your kids:
- Check that the items suit their age.
- Check the suggested age indicated on the outer package or sift through the safety manual included in the package.
- Examine all toys for loose parts that can be choking hazards.
- Disguise empty boxes on trash day.
After the holidays, the threat of burglary has reduced. However, a quick look around the neighborhood on the first garbage collection day after the holidays will reveal who acquired a new smart TV, a laptop, or a valued video gaming system. A quick probe into the trash can by a would-be intruder might disclose valued electronic packaging.
The best way to avoid advertising your gifts is by cutting boxes of any valuable items you received using a box cutter. Fold the remaining pieces to conceal any labels or pictures that show what was inside the box. Put the pieces in the recycle bin with other recyclables.
Conclusion: How to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays
Most of us anticipate vacations for months, which might be the only chance to enjoy a few stress-free days away from the daily pressures of work and life. But no one wants to return from a memorable vacation to find their house robbed. Knowing how to keep your home safe during the holidays is important.
You can take numerous safety measures to keep your home safe while away. These include installing a home security system, replacing older entry doors, asking a friend to monitor your home, installing programmable light switches, unplugging unnecessary appliances, keeping a car in the driveway, securing your garage door, and the rest, which I discussed earlier in this guide.