The holiday season is upon us, which means shopping, cooking, cleaning for guests, and if you’re lucky, a fair amount of celebratory cheer that manages to sneak its way past all the stress and anxiety that coincides with a home full of your extended family. There’s nothing wrong with letting the Christmas or Hanukkah spirit seep through your tough guy or gal façade, but it might help to brush up a bit on your home security during this long month of celebrations and turkey-supplemented complacency.
The holiday season is supposed to remind us about the good in the world, for which there is, of course, plenty. It still pays to be cautious when it comes to protecting your loved ones from calamity, whether caused by accident, by nature, or the ill will of others. With that in mind, here are four brief tips to help make sure you make it to the new year without appearing on the front page of your local paper.
Be careful about leaving boxes by the road.
Once you’re finished unwrapping all the gifts you and your loved ones have exchanged, you’ll probably be left with a big pile of boxes covered in pictures of all the neat new gadgets and toys you’ve packed your house with. Piling these boxes up with your outgoing trash or recycling on the side of the road is a lot like leaving a gear list tacked to your door detailing all the pricey goods a home invader can expect to find inside.
Depending on how trash pickup works in your town, some viable options may be to cut the cardboard boxes up and bag them, fold them so the plain brown paper is facing outward, or if you live in the sticks like I do – some of those boxes can make for some pretty good kindling for an outdoor fire. You probably want to avoid burning plastic coated cardboard in your indoor fireplaces, however.
Water your Christmas tree.
If you’re holiday season includes a big, festive, real tree, you should be aware of what a significant fire hazard pine trees become once they’re good and dry. Watering your Christmas tree will not only help it retain its needles for longer (making cleanup a bit less rigorous), it will also keep you on the right side of the demonstration above.
It’s also a good idea (as it is any time of year) to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and ensure your fire extinguisher hasn’t expired. You can never be too careful when it comes to fire safety, especially if you might have more than one generation of your family under the same roof.
Make sure your firearms are safely locked up.
Many of SOFREP’s readers are proud and responsible gun owners, but no matter how responsible you may be, we’re all guilty of occasionally falling into a habit instead of maintaining active awareness. For the most part, I use a condition 3 or 4 rule for the firearms inside my house (meaning most are completely unloaded and on safe, barring some home protection firearms that may have a magazine inserted without a round in the chamber). While most of my firearms remains safely locked up in my office safe, I do keep a few downstairs where they’re easier to access in an emergency – but with family members coming through, some with children and some with no experience handling firearms – it’s important that you ensure your firearm storage solutions are appropriate for your guests.
Make sure all firearms are safely out of the reach of children, and if you are going to keep any readily accessible in your general living spaces, ensure the adults in the house know where they are and the condition they’re kept in. It’s never a good idea to let your aunt stumble across a condition one Glock when she’s just trying to find another blanket for the baby.
Keep tabs on your keys.
With shopping to do and family members coming and going, you may be tempted to just leave a key under the mat and tell your mom to let herself in. We’ve all made these kinds of allowances when it comes to home security – after all, nothing’s worse than finding yourself locked out of your own home. The thing is, leaving a key under the mat, or beneath a decorative rock, on the top of the door frame, etc, are all common places to check even if you’re not a visiting relative.
There are some great home security options out there to remotely lock and unlock your doors, as well as security systems that can provide access through a code, but if you’re on a budget or just lack the interest and tech savvy required to employ these options, nothing beats the good old-fashioned way. Keep your keys on you, coordinate arrivals so you can let family members in, and if you give spare keys to family or friends, make sure they give them back to you. That’s not out of concern that they may use the key for devious purposes – but because they likely won’t put the spare key on a keychain and, in the havoc of the holidays, may misplace it without realizing. Get accountability for your keys when the holiday shenanigans are over, so you can be sure no keys were lost.
And of course, have a happy, and safe, holiday season!
Image courtesy of the Associated Press