All about the Home: Safety, Maintenance and Security
Whether you're buying a new home, are responsible for maintenance and upkeep on your existing home, or concerned about safety and security - if you live in a house or an apartment, you've likely experienced some of the work and worry that comes with it.
In this month's chapter of "Live Proactively" we're all about the home. Enjoy the tips below to help make your home a safer place for kids, pets, and grown-ups, too!
SafeKids - My Safe Home
This is a great interactive tool that helps you identify potential hazards in you home and provides easy tips to fix them. Go through it room by room, or view the tool by risk (and remedy) and learn how to treat minor household injuries.
BrightNest is where Pinterest meets DIY. From maintenance to home buyer tips, security advice to environmentally friendly ways to clean your dishwasher, BrightNest offers it all! A partner of Angie's List, this site is a great resource for all homeowners.
Start a Neighborhood Watch Group
Supported by the National Sheriff's Association, this website provides helpful information from thinking about a Neighborhood Watch Program, to registering and implementing it, to abundant tips and resources.
1. Lock It Up
Did you know that almost 50% of burglaries happen through unlocked doors and windows? Many thieves find easy entry into homes through unlocked doors and windows. Always close and lock up your home when you leave -- and don't forget the door leading from the garage to your house, even if your garage door is shut! Electric garage doors can be easy to open for crooks, and an unlocked door can give them direct access to your home.
2. It's OK to Fool a Burglar
Burglars don't like attention-drawing noise. And what creates attention-drawing noise? An alarm system!
Of course, the installation of an alarm system will increase the security of your home exponentially when it's properly installed, maintained and monitored by an expert.
However, the noise isn't the only thing that might deter a burglar. Even a simple window sticker or yard sign advertising a security company can be a great way to make a burglar pass a particular house and move on to one that doesn't feature a security ad.
3. Know your Neighbor
A trusted and friendly neighborhood community is a true blessing. Studies show that neighbors who know one another are more likely to watch out for each other and to notice if something 'fishy' is going on.
Neighborhood Watch Communities have been around since the 1960's. Ask your local Police Department to help you set one up, or click here for more information.
4. Trim Shrubs and Maintain Landscaping
Maintain trees and bushes around your home to eliminate hiding places, view blockage and long shadows. Burglars feel more comfortable when they are out of view, and well-trimmed greenery leaves much less room to hide than overgrown bushes.
Walk your yard with a 'burglar's mind:' Check view lines to and from neighbor's homes or where passers-by can see your property, look for places to crawl in or under, and watch where shadows fall. Take steps to make your property as uncomfortable for a burglar as possible.
5. Let There Be Light!
Well-lit porches and doors are a no-brainer - not only do they keep you safe when you return home in the dark, but they also allow neighbors to see what's going on. Motion lights are a great way to draw attention. Don't leave lights on permanently -- it's just as effective as no light at all. You want your home to look lived-in, not staged.
Set inside lights on a timer and turn them on at random if possible. Indoor lights often get turned on and off at different times when homeowners are present. Mimic real life even when you are gone. You want your home to look lived-in, not staged.
6. Be Crime-Smart
Don't let potential burglars in on your routines. Burglars don't want to encounter homeowners, they simply want to steal their stuff. Thieves operate with several factors in mind:
1. They do their homework.
Observing their victim's routines, comings and goings is a huge part of a burglars 'work.' Burglaries are most common during the daytime. Why? Because most people are at work or school, and are unlikely to return home soon -- a perfect timeframe to be in and out with loot. Take steps to camouflage whether you are home or gone by taking these precautionary steps:
a) Always park your car in the garage and close the garage door. An empty driveway won't be a guarantee for an empty house.
b) Set indoor lights on a timer and consider playing a TV or radio.
c) If you have a land line, turn the phone's volume to prevent endless ringing from giving away your absence.
2. They aim to be swift and want to carry light.
If they want to be swift, you can protect yourself by slowing them down. See #1: Lock doors and windows. Lock smaller valuables in bigger cases that take too long to crack on site and are too cumbersome to haul off.
3. They know where to look
Most people keep their valuables in the bedroom. A jewelry box is usually destination number one for a robber, followed closely by the master bathroom's medicine cabinet. (Drugs, anyone?) That's why we recommend: Don't store all your valuables or even medication in the same spot! Keep them safe in different places throughout the house, and hide them in unusual places where a burglar won't think to look. Burglary works because thieves can reliably and successfully work on autopilot by 'hitting' the classic target hiding spots in a home, and leaving with loot.
7. Don't Put Your Stuff on Display
Mountain Bikes? Scooters? Kayaks and golf gear? Pick it up and store it inside your garage or basement, don't leave it outside to tempt less-than-well-meaning passersby. The more you show, the more you let crooks in to what they can expect if they come 'visit' your house.
8. Don't Talk About Leaving
Planning a vacation? Don't announce it. Whether it's on Social Media or in a harmless conversation with your neighbor that's being overheard - keep your travel plans to yourself. Don't underestimate the "referral grapevine" among burglars. They give each other tips, just like you would help your co-worker with a computer problem. While you're gone, take measures to prepare your home for your absence, and hire a house-sitter or entrust a neighbor or friend to check on your home while you're gone. Stop the mail and newspaper and have someone take care of your garbage cans for you.
9. Install A Security System
Yes, even though it's OK to fool a burglar into thinking that you have a security system, it's even better to actually have one installed! Home alarm systems come in various price ranges, so be sure to consult with a professional to get quotes on installation and (more importantly) monitoring and maintenance.
The Chicago Tribune offers some helpful tips on selecting a home security system.
10. Have Adequate Insurance Protection
Even if we take all the necessary precautions, theft is a peril that can happen to even the most proactive and careful of homeowners. That's why it's so important to protect your personal property. Especially high-value items such as jewelry, art, collectibles or specialty gear tend to require specific coverage that is not included in a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy.
Call your local Protection Team at McClain Insurance Services today for an insurance review. We're here to help!