Now that the end-of-year holiday season is in full swing, many of us are traveling to see family and friends. This can often mean leaving our home unattended while we’re away. We like to think nothing can ever go wrong while we’re away, but this is a perfect time for thieves to take advantage of our absence. So it’s worth reviewing these tips to keep your home safe from burglars, and make sure your home is ready – or schedule a new year to-do for item #3.

Ready for your pre-travel safety checkup? Then here we go!

Are you traveling over the holidays? Is your home safe to be empty while you're gone? Read these tips to keep your home safe from burglars!

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Tips To Keep Your Home Safe From Burglars

1) Keep Everything Fixed

This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ll say it anyway: start by making sure that everything in your home is fixed. If you’ve got a broken window or an exterior door lock that’s broken, you might as well have up a sign saying “Hey, come rob us!”

Likewise, if your garage door is overdue for fixing, you need to put garage door repairs at the top of your to-do list. This is both to keep you safe from burglars, and to make sure you’re ready for winter storms. Disconnecting the motor from an electric garage door is tricky enough when a winter storm knocks out the power. The last thing you’ll want to worry about in a storm is having your car trapped (or your home accessible to thieves) because your garage door needs a tune-up.

2) Don’t Leave Your Windows Open

Another no-brainer, and less of a concern in the winter, but still. You’d be surprised how often we hear on our neighborhood listserv during the summer months about a rash of burglaries, due in part to people leaving their windows wide open.

So don’t be tempted to have extension cords running out your windows to power outside lights. And even though you’re less likely to have your windows open in the winter, you still need to make sure that they’re locked whenever they are closed. Leaving your windows closed but unlocked is another open invitation for someone to enter without your permission.

A great hack to help with both these situations is getting the automatic latches that prevent your windows from opening more than two inches. These will stop both a would-be burglar, and a curious child who likes to climb. Newer windows come with these preinstalled on the top sash. This is what they look like on our newest replacement window:

Are you traveling over the holidays? Is your home safe to be empty while you're gone? Read these tips to keep your home safe from burglars!

As you can see, they’re easy to disable if you want to open the window all the way. But otherwise, they will keep both your little ones AND your home safe. Bottom line, make sure your windows are kept shut most of the time. Even if it means you can’t run that extension cord outside to power your light displays. (See if your house has an outdoor electrical outlet you can use. If not, look into installing one.)

3) Consider Getting An Alarm System

Finally, if you live in an area with frequent break-ins, or just want some extra peace of mind, it’s worth investigating a home security system. When I was growing up, we had a rash of burglaries in our neighborhood every few years. So shortly before my father died, he got an alarm system installed to help protect my widowed mama once she was alone.

Home security systems come in a wide range of price points. Many have monthly subscriptions that go toward 24/7 monitoring of your home and a call center set up to alert you of any issues. When making your choice, keep in mind that this is definitely one area where you get what you pay for.

When you’re weighing your options, do your homework. Check reviews on the different companies operating in your area. If your neighbors have security-system signs in their yard, ask them who services their alarm system, and what they think of their provider. It’s important to make sure you’ve done your research before you settle on a company to deliver this alarm system for your home.

And while the alarm system in and of itself will do plenty to protect your home (such as automatically notifying police and/or the fire department if its sensors detect a problem, there’s another plus. Would-be burglars are more likely to pass by homes with security-system signs in their yard, figuring it’s not worth the risk and hassle.

Your turn:

What steps have you taken to ensure your home’s security year-round? What special precautions do you take right before going on an extended trip? Please share them with us in the comments!

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 Are you traveling over the holidays? Is your home safe to be empty while you're gone? Read these tips to keep your home safe from burglars!

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