Home Safety Tips for Those Leaving for the Holidays
When in Manila during the November 1 holidays, expect many houses to be empty because everyone’s gone to visit their loved ones who have passed away. The other night, I heard a psychologist tell Kara David that people brave the crowds in cemeteries because they’re scared of the spirits of their loved ones visiting them (mabuti nang ikaw ang pumunta sa kanila kasya sila ang pumunta sayo) but I believe there’s something else, more sinister, that we should be afraid of: real people who can break into our houses.
Because almost everyone is out for the whole day–others for several days, even weeks–our sanctuaries are at risk of getting invaded by robbers, so we must ensure our property’s safety.
Here are some home safety tips to ensure your place is still in one piece after the holidays:
Unleash the kraken–or dogs, if you don’t have one.
Good for you if you have a kraken; you can be away for weeks and even leave the doors open and no one’s going to think about breaking in. But we’re out of luck because Perseus killed it, so you’d have to settle for your canine friends.
Dogs can discourage robbers. The bigger dogs that you have, the better. They may not be as scary-looking as the Greek sea monster, but they can bark like crazy and bite painfully. Before you leave home, let them out of the cage so they can run around the perimeter.
Make sure that all appliances are unplugged and gas tanks sealed shut.
Even experts on home safety tips will tell you to do these things to prevent fires. You can never be too sure so spend a few more minutes to double check.
Leave at least one light on.
Having at least one light on will make outsiders think someone’s home. A totally dark house is easily preyed on because intruders are concealed by darkness. No one will see them coming.
Don’t be worried about racking up higher electrical bills, in case you’re out for several days. You’ve got more to lose if you leave your house totally dark.
Don’t let anyone know you’re out for days.
The one mistake many people make is to let strangers know their house is unguarded for days without even realizing it. I’m sure we’ve all done this at least once: by updating our Facebook statuses.
It’s very likely that you’ve told Facebook friends that you’re going on vacation this November 1 and that you’re excited to finally see your relatives or how it’s the only time you can visit the beach, etc. And because crooks are also online, it’s very easy to pick a house to break into.
You’ve basically just given them consent to rob your house. So next time, be discreet. Be very discreet.
Tell at least one trusted neighbor that you’re going to be away.
Good neighbors are truly great blessings not only because they share delicious ulams on days that you can’t cook or run out of budget, but also because they can watch your house when you’re away.
And if you really trust them, leave a key to your gate with them, so they can feed your dogs. But only if you really, really trust them.
Bring a laptop or a 3G-enabled iPad.
For those who have the means to do so, a closed circuit television monitoring system (CCTV) can eliminate all worries, so bring a laptop or an iPad (along with a portable Internet connection) with you to regularly monitor what’s going on in your property.
Intruders can be dissuaded from entering a house that has security cameras.
Don’t leave branded clothes in the hamper.
Clothes left out to dry can be stolen, so bring everything inside. But if you think about it, having clothes lined up in your yard can give outsiders the impression that someone is home. This is an option. Just make sure that your branded clothes are brought in before you leave.
Ensure that all windows are locked and curtains drawn.
Sometimes, families that are in a hurry to leave miss a window, which intruders can use to enter the house. It doesn’t hurt to spend a few more minutes going around the house, checking for unlocked windows. These are the most common and simplest home safety tips.
In case you’re already on the move and you felt you may have left one open, go back. It pays to be sure. Trust your gut.
Even if it turns out to be wrong, it’s still important to heed the call. You’ve far more to lose than being laughed at because you sounded ridiculous. This has happened to me a lot and in 5 situations where I felt I forgot to lock something and went back, I was right 2 times.
Having curtains drawn will also prevent anyone from looking in. That way, no one will see your stuff like flat TV or expensive computers. Don’t give them a reason to want to break in.
Keep all keys with you and don’t leave one under the mat or flower pot.
By now, anyone with half a brain can figure out that people leave keys in these obvious places. We’ve seen enough movies that showed that. There’s no need to leave a spare key for robbers.
Don’t leave parcel deliveries at the front door; ask a neighbor to get them.
Delivered packages left on your front door is like a bat signal for crooks. They’ll know that no one’s home. Again, talk to your most trusted neighbor and ask them to retrieve any packages delivered to your home.
As much as possible, have one person stay at home.
If you have household help who’s not leaving for the province or a relative who just wants to stay at home, ask them to guard your house. Having one person look after the house is always good. It’s even better if you have a son like Kevin McCallister from “Home Alone”. At least you know he can take care of thieves.
Here are some more home safety tips if you’re leaving someone behind:
- Leave at least two mobile numbers where they can contact you and give them extra cellphone load.
- Constantly check in with them.
- Leave contact numbers of the barangay hall, nearest police station, and the fire station.
- Orient them about home safety tips like not letting anyone in or giving info to someone who called, etc.
- Give them liberty to relax and feel at home, probably get to watch some horror flicks so they won’t get so bored they’d decide to just leave.
We shouldn’t worry a lot when we leave home to pay our dead loved ones a visit. This should be a time for paying respects and relaxation and if you’ve done a good job in implementing all these home safety tips, then there’s nothing to stress about.