Ten ways to safeguard your home this December

Safeguarding your home is of utmost importance to most people and this is made slightly more difficult over the holidays when people tend to go away.

There are a number of ways in which you can protect your property this December, whether you are going away or not! Here they are:

10: Invest in an Alarm System

If you’re thinking about getting a burglar alarm system, join the ranks! About 250 000 electronic security systems are installed inSouth African properties each year. And it’s no wonder — a house without a security system is three times more likely to be broken into than a residence with one, according to Simon Hakim, a professor of economics at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.

There are many options to choose from so try and look for a system with a separate control panel and key pad. Those that have both of these in the same unit can be easier for an intruder to defeat before the alarm notifies a monitoring centre. Monitoring and armed-response are must-haves. See which security company has a good presence in the area where you live and in particular make sure that they have a vehicle in close proximity to your address.

9: Beef up on Security with a Dog

A pooch can certainly add another level of protection to your house, whether you want one in addition to or in lieu of a security system.

But not all dogs are equal when it comes to keeping your property and family safe. Guard dogs protect and defend property. They’re not pets. Protection dogs, on the other hand, are family dogs that watch over people rather than a physical area. German shepherds, Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers are among the best breeds for home protection, thanks to generations of breeding. They respond well to discipline and are friendly with their families, including children.

If you want a security-trained dog, make sure to buy one from a reputable trainer. And if you want a dog and security system, look into pet-friendly motion detectors that will announce intruders rather than your furry friend!

8: Install Smart Lighting, for both Indoors and Outdoors

Make it harder for robbers to break into your home at night undetected with strategic lighting. Outdoor motion detectors, flood lights and security lighting near possible points of entry, like windows and doors, can be a practical deterrent for unwanted visitors.

For an additional layer of protection, consider installing a security camera. Put up signs that indicate your home is armed with a security camera to keep potential prowlers at bay. Because your home is more likely to be broken into when you’re away, set indoor lights on a timer to make it look like you’re home.

7: Minimize Access to Your Keys

More than one lock on a door can make it more difficult for intruders to get in. Whether you have a lock set, dead bolt or security chain, it’s even more important to be mindful of who has access to your keys and home.

Instead of giving your house-sitter and dog walker all of your house keys, give them one key to the front door or the garage door opener. That way, if the key is lost or falls into the wrong hands, a burglar won’t have access to the other locks on the front door or any other doors. With a little foresight, it can be easy to minimize risk.

6: Get to Know Your Neighbours

Knowing your neighbours is a cheap form of home security. Well-acquainted neighbours are more likely to call you or the police when they see something fishy.

If they know you’re out of town, for example, and they see a furniture delivery truck parked in your driveway, hopefully they’ll call in the suspicious behaviour. Ask a neighbour to pick up any post that could clutter your doorstep or mailbox so that anyone watching the area doesn’t get tipped off that you’re out of town.

5: Strengthen your Doors

Almost two-thirds of burglaries involve forced entry, which is partly due to weak door locks and mounting hardware, according to Consumer Reports. To bolster locks, replace the strike, a metal plate mounted on the door jamb that the lock bolt slides into. For a few rand, you can significantly strengthen the flimsiest of locks.

4: Reinforce Windows

Windows pose a unique security challenge. All an intruder has to do is break a window, reach inside, and unlock it to gain access. There are some easy things you can do to fortify your windows, starting with the glass itself. Regular glass is really easy to break. Laminated windows are ideal, or a special kind of glass that’s similar to car windshields. Installing a second layer of glass helps, as well as ensuring that the panes are securely attached to the window frame. Also, make sure that door locks are positioned farther than an arm’s reach away from windows.

3: Don’t Advertise What’s Inside Your Home

You wouldn’t put candy in front of a child and say “Don’t eat this!” So, don’t keep your blinds open and lights on at night and tempt burglars who might be scouting out your suburb or area.

Window coverings should block onlookers from seeing inside your home. If you have sheer or transparent curtains, just make sure they’re paired with another kind of window treatment that protects your privacy.

Remember, you’re concealing the things in your house as well as the people. This way, it’s harder for potential intruders to learn your routine and to know exactly when your family is at home. Of course, keep high-target items like flat screen TVs and jewellery out of sight. Simple solutions like tall fencing or bushes surrounding your property can help block views of your home’s interior.

If you go on a shopping spree and need to discard of the tell-tale packaging, put them in your car and take them to the nearest dump or recycling centre. If you put all the boxes on the pavement for the municipal waste collectors, you are telling anyone staking out your neighbourhood that you have just bought a brand new device or TV, making yourself a soft-target.

2: Safeguard Potentially Hazardous Areas

Sure, there are things you can do to keep out prowlers, but it’s also important to safeguard your home from accident-prone family and friends.

One of the most hazardous spots in property in South Africa is the swimming pool.

Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental deaths in South Africa, and half of these deaths occur in swimming pools, according to the Anaesthesiology medical journal. Putting a fence around the perimeter or by putting a safety net on your pool can help keep out curious young neighbours. Boost safety by setting pool rules like no swimming alone. Also, make sure everyone in your family knows how to swim.

There are numerous potential hazards around the home like the garage and tool shed. Make sure these are closed and locked at all times when you are not around.

1: Protect Your Home against Fires

Something we are not particularly good at in South Africa. Most people believe (incorrectly) that because our houses are built so well and with strong materials that they cannot possibly go up in flames. This assumption is really wrong and if you consider that nearly 3,000 people die in residential fires every year, but there are easy things you can do to protect your home and family from runaway fires.

Purchase smoke detectors – they are relatively inexpensive  – and keep them in good working order. Test them once a month, and replace batteries annually.

There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in high-risk areas, like the kitchen and the garage. And above all, practice a fire escape plan as a family so everyone knows what to do in an emergency.

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