As we discussed in our Vacation Security To-Do List, every season brings its own unique security concerns. Summer means long days, warm weather, and houses left vacant during family vacations. The fall, meanwhile, means arriving home after sunset, and trees that transition from colorful to bare. It also brings the return of sweater weather, and Halloween preparations and pranks. With these seasonal changes also arrive new and unique security issues that must be addressed as well.
We work with our customers every year to incorporate seasonal factors into their home security plans. In this post, we share our most important autumn security tips. We will start with some exterior security ideas for the perimeter of your home. From there, we will examine how to thwart internal seasonal dangers as well. People often associate fall with shorter days and longer, cooler nights. Let’s look at a security tip directly related to one of autumn’s most distinctive features.
Install Additional Lighting
With autumn comes the dreaded drive home from work in the dark. In out post on Security for New Homeowners, we discussed the importance of a well-lit yard. Burglars prefer to work unnoticed while looking for a way into their victims’ homes. Autumn’s additional hours of darkness makes this easier than in the summer. Install enough lighting to see your entire home’s exterior from the road and neighbors’ yards, if possible. This can help eliminate the “hiding places” that burglars try to find to commit their crimes. Motion-activated lighting can also help you achieve this without using as much energy.
Additionally, consider adding smart lighting to your home to prevent returning to a dark house. This allows you to turn your lights on remotely before returning home. Monitoring your home security system with an interactive cellular dialer, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, provides even more flexibility with your smart lighting options. You can set up schedules for your lights, or even have them activated by your location (our post on Using Geo Services has more information about that feature). In addition to shorter days, let’s look at another one of fall’s signature features and how it affects autumn security.
Pay Attention to New Exterior Security Threats
The bare trees that we mentioned at the beginning of this post bring their own security concerns with them. For one, they could allow people to look into your home where they couldn’t over the summer. Allowing passersby to see valuables from the street can create a temptation for potential thieves. Pay attention to how disappearing foliage create new opportunities for snooping. Additionally, bare trees can actually help a burglar enter your home. Trim any branches that may help burglars access windows or other entry points to your home. Trees will be much easier to climb without their leaves, so this danger increases in the fall. Therefore, we urge customers to increase autumn security by recognizing and addressing how the fall season can create easier entrance into your home. Now let’s examine a seasonal threat to your home security related to the spookiest day of the year.
Monitor Your Home for Halloween Hijinks
We’ve had many customers ask for help with exterior home security around this time of year. This is largely due to the unofficial holiday at the end of October. Halloween brings candy, costumes and decorations, and fun theme parties every year. Unfortunately, it also brings its share of pranks that occasionally cross the line from “practical” to “damaging.” A residential camera system can help alleviate these dangers. For one, cameras can capture and help you solve events such as eggings, smashed pumpkins, and other common Halloween headaches. Above and beyond that, cameras act as a crime deterrent in and of themselves. Neighborhood hooligans looking for a target may well move on if they feel watched. The ability to look over your home and ward off potential pranksters altogether make adding cameras an effective way to improve autumn security.
Take Fire Prevention and Precaution Measures
As the weather cools down, homeowners begin using their heaters again to fight the cold. This brings its own set of safety concerns as homeowners switch their focus from air conditioning to heat. In this section, we’ll look at improving autumn security through the lens of beefing up fire security. We will examine ways to prevent fires first and foremost. From there, we’ll look at some valuable tips for lessening the damage caused by a fire. Since we prefer being proactive to reactive, let’s start with ways to keep fires from starting in the first place.
Fire Prevention Tips
The National Fire Protection Association (or NFPA) points out that fires started by heaters often occur because homeowners fail to clean heating equipment, especially chimneys. The beginning of fall makes a great time to take care of this task. Cleaning heaters, furnaces, and chimneys now will help keep you safe all season.
Because of the increase in people using heating appliances around this time of year, it’s only appropriate that the NFPA has designated the week of October 7-13 as National Fire Prevention week. The NFPA also found that space heaters accounted for nearly half of all heater-related fires between 2011-2015. Therefore we recommend turning space heaters off before going to bed at night. Additionally, clear anything flammable (clothing, bedding, furniture, etc.) away from heaters. Failing to do this led to OVER half of heater-related fires during the 2011-2015 time frame. While we urge taking as many prevention steps as possible, we also preach preparation as well. Let’s look at some important tips for minimizing a fire’s danger.
Preparing for the Worst
As we pointed out in last week’s post on Improving Fire Safety for Your Family, you should focus on both fire prevention and preparation. Purchasing and installing fire extinguishers can help keep a fire under control. If you have a family, plan an emergency meeting place. Map out escape routes and practice fire drills to ensure that everyone knows how to escape quickly from every area of the house. Installing smoke alarms inside and outside of every bedroom can also greatly reduce the risk of becoming a fire casualty. Finally, testing your alarms and changing the batteries ensures that you don’t install these devices for nothing. According to the NFPA, dead batteries account for nearly one out of four smoke alarm failures (24%). In addition to influencing heater use, fall weather brings the potential to create environmental emergencies. Let’s take a look at some ways you can minimize this threat.
Prepare for Fall Weather with Environmental Sensors
In this part of the country, we know autumn for bridging warm, humid summers and cold, brittle winters. Colder temperatures and autumn rains (and upcoming snow, but we won’t talk about that yet) can bring with them weather-related home emergencies. These can prove costly if not discovered and acted upon immediately. In our Emergency Preparation Tips for Alarm Customers, we shared the importance of installing environmental sensors to alleviate this risk. Freeze sensors can alert you to temperatures that fall far below normal. This could point to an issue with your heater. Flood sensors alert you to the presence of water, and many homeowners install these sensors in their basement to catch flooding or broken pipes.
Taking this tip one step further, many of our alarm customers install smart thermostats. These thermostats allow homeowners to control their home temperature remotely at all times. They also provide real-time temperature alerts if the temperature falls above or below a specified temperature range. Additionally, irregularities in environmental appliances will trigger an alert as well (pictured). This allows you to ensure that your home stays comfortable while keeping your energy bills as low as possible. For these reasons, smart thermostats make a popular addition to our customers’ environmental security measures.
Creating a Complete Plan for Autumn Security
We hope this post has given you some specific ideas to help you feel more secure this autumn. Perhaps you feel like you have the right measures in place, but would like to tweak a few things to feel completely confident. Or perhaps you need to start your autumn security plan from scratch. Either way, please do not hesitate to contact us. We provide free home site surveys during any season of the year. While at your home, we will address any areas of concern and make our own suggestions as well. Together, we can create a home security plan that leaves you and your family ready to face any security threats the season may bring.