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5 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

holidayhouse‘Tis the season… the season when, in the minds of some, desperate times call for desperate measures. Home invasions are up as criminals know there’s a greater chance of a higher bounty because of newly purchased Christmas presents on the premises. Hopefully you will never experience an event that causes you to feel fearful in your own residence. Because your home is your sanctuary, it is vital that you do everything within your control to keep intruders out your house. Below are five proactive measures that you can do today to ensure your domicile remains your Home Sweet Home, throughout the holidays and beyond.

Your home is supposed to be your haven – the structure that keeps you and your family safe and protected. It’s the place you retreat to after a long day, the shelter that keeps you protected from the elements of unpredictable weather patterns and it’s the refuge where you can lock your doors and know that you and your family members can peacefully rest your head for the night.

1. Evaluate your lighting

Employing light properly is one of the most economical and effective ways of increasing safety and security around your home.  To determine if lighting around your home is adequate, evaluate your current situation while in total darkness.

  • Start by walking around the perimeter of your house at night. Before you go outside make sure all your inside and outside lights are turned off. The purpose of this stroll is to help you identify shadows and blind spots on your property that occur naturally at night.  If you have someone to accompany you on this walk-around, have that person take some notes.  Many cell phones are equipped with a feature that lets you audibly record your notes.  Be sure to look at the areas surrounding doors, first floor and basement level windows. Then look for line of travel one would take when approaching your home from the street and also assess bordering property lines.  Garage, shed or other outbuildings also warrant a review. Record your observations you see when looking toward your home as well as away from it, as if looking out from a window. From the standpoint of keeping intruders out, what areas require the most light?  Do you need to add any accent lighting?
  • Finish this lighting evaluation from the inside.  For this evaluation, upon entering your home, turn lights on as you would normally after returning at night. The goal with this is to ensure that your lights illuminate deep into the room.  You should be able to immediately tell if any of your contents have been disturbed, which could indicate a sign of an intrusion.  Avoid a situation where you walk in and flip a switch that turns on a light immediately above you, resulting in the rest of your home still in the dark. If there is an intruder inside, you’ll be at a disadvantage with this lighting setup. Rearranging your light setup may require you to hire an electrician to install a wall-switch that controls lamps located further in the room.  If you have multiple levels, have your electrician install wall switches on the upper floor that allows you to turn on lights on the levels below.

Lighting is an often overlooked element of security that can be particularly useful when investigating ‘bumps’ in the night.

2. Landscape with an eye on security Continue reading

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6 Safety Tips Before Allowing Contractors in Your Home

Chances are if you didn’t have ice dam damages to your home this winter, you know someone who did. It was an exceptionally tough winter. Now that the snow has melted, it’s time to get that roof, door, or walls fixed – for many, that means having a contractor in your home.

I definitely do not like to have anyone other than family or friends in my home. I’m rather protective of my castle and the contents which, most importantly, include my family and self who call this place home.

Yet there are times when contractors and other service personnel do need to come into your home. In extreme cases where it cannot be avoided, it is essential to be cautious how you handle a stranger in your home.

Recently it was necessary that the cable guy enter my abode to work on my internet connection. I had an appointment and he also phoned ten minutes ahead to alert me of his pending arrival. He showed up in a company van and was wearing a company uniform, so I allowed him entry into my home.

In walked a 6’7” man who immediately tried to make nice with my dog. She was not a threat to him and in fact, did not bark or approach him, so there was no need for him to attempt to befriend my guard dog.

After he completed his task, he again returned to my office, sat down at my desk and began to explain some highly technical advances that his company has made to their service. I didn’t care. I didn’t understand what he was talking about and it wasn’t relevant to anything I needed to know.

I gave him all of the “it’s time to go now” signals. Finally he walked back toward the door to put on his snow covered shoes and just when I thought he was leaving, he sat down on the floor and again tried to befriend my dog. I did not want my hound to become familiar with this stranger, nor did I want her to be able to recognize his scent, should he ever return. I wanted my canine to consider him a stranger.

I even went as far as to tell my child that we needed to go or “…we’ll be late. Get your coat on please.” When I put my coat on, the cable guy finally got off the floor and then proceeded to tell me about how he used to have ten dogs and his two favorite ones were killed by a bear. Again, didn’t ask. Don’t care. Please leave.

If you’ve ever watched any crime dramas on TV such as Criminal Minds or Without a Trace, you know that they often inquire if any service personnel have recently had access to the victim’s home, phone or computer. While that is Hollywood, even those shows use a technical adviser to ensure their story is close to what happens in real life.  It’s not the first time a person of interest is a contractor or other service provider. Continue reading

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Use Caution When Accepting Deliveries at Home

deliveryWhether you shopped online or are fortunate enough to receive gifts from out of town loved ones, now is not the time to blindly open the door to delivery couriers.

Recently a van pulled into my driveway. I was not expecting anyone. Those who know me know that I “don’t do pop-overs.”  Phone me from the driveway if you must, but don’t just show up at my door unannounced and expect me to answer it.  I work from home and I’m a single parent and 9mm or not, opening the door just isn’t something I freely do.  Call me paranoid, hermit, cautious, whatever – I just don’t do popovers.

Back to the van in my driveway.  As I am a fan of online shopping, so I’m not stranger to delivery vehicles, I wasn’t not expecting anything from a Ryder Cargo Van.

I cautiously looked out the window, okay – covertly looked, to see a man get out, not dressed in any uniform nor any identifying logos.  This was a big flag for me. Meanwhile my gal pal was on the phone and said to me, “Boy when we see a strange Ryder van pull up unexpectedly, we run for cover.”  Nice friend, thanks. I’m already trying to determine who is encroaching on my space and you need to plant that little seed in my head. Continue reading

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