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5 Steps to Stay Safe and Secure this Holiday Season

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The holidays are upon us, and with them come so many things that we look forward to all year. Listening to holiday music while gazing at Christmas lights, spending time with friends and family, and eating seasonal goodies create some of our best memories. However, some people look forward to this time of year with more cynical intent. Burglaries and home break-ins spike during the holidays, for some very simple reasons. For one, families that partake in gift-giving have more goodies in their homes than usual at this time of year. Additionally, holiday travels leave many homes vacant for long periods of time. These factors make holiday security a priority for our customers.

In this post, we’ll share some of our most valuable tips for increasing holiday security for you and your family. We’ll start by examining how you can make your home a less attractive target for burglars. Taking common-sense steps can greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim this holiday season. We’ll also discuss plans for addressing dangers arising from holiday decorating and holiday travel. Homeowners often overlook these dangers while dealing with the many obligations the season brings. Let’s start with one of our most basic and effective tips for deterring crime during the holidays.

Install a Home Security System

The weeks leading up to Christmas mark one of the most popular times of year for break-ins. With Black Friday just behind us, we have officially entered holiday shopping season. This means homes full of electronics, jewelry, and other gifts that burglars would love to get their hands on. Installing a home security system can help guard against this danger in a couple different ways. For one, having your burglar alarm monitored assures that a break-in leads to a police response. You can read up on monitoring options in our post about Security System Monitoring. Knowing that the authorities will show up if needed adds both holiday security and peace of mind.

Additionally, the presence of a security system alone can deter burglars from even attempting a break-in. Advertising your alarm system with a yard sign and stickers often prompts burglars to choose a new target. Our owner, George Condon, always points out that the biggest deterrents are the yard sign and stickers, and that the security system is only there in case anyone’s still bold enough to try to get into the house. All criminals take steps to avoid detection. For many burglars, the first step is simply avoiding homes that have security systems protecting them.

An Alarm.com doorbell camera image is captured on a phone.

Adding a doorbell camera, such as this popular model from Alarm.com, can help you track gift deliveries and prevent packages from being stolen.

Take Steps to Protect Your Packages

Breaking in to homes is not the only means that burglars take to grab your intended holiday gifts. Many criminals may not have the courage to break into your home. However, stealing packages off your doorstep before you even see them presents a much less difficult proposition. You have a couple options for addressing this threat. Installing a home surveillance system can help you catch package-grabbing thieves. For tips on how to make your camera system as effective as possible, check out or post on Smart Home Surveillance System Design.

If you do not wish to install a complete camera system, you can still watch over the main entrance of your home with a doorbell camera. One of the most popular smart home devices, doorbell cameras record video upon detecting motion.

Monitoring your security system with an interactive cellular dialer, such as our powered by Alarm.com, adds even more functionality to these cameras. For example, you can you receive live video clips on your phone if anyone approaches your porch, and then activate your security system with your phone if you do not like the situation. If a trusted guest approaches the door, you can disarm your security system with your phone so they can enter safely. Combining your doorbell camera and security system’s features therefore adds plenty of overall holiday security to your home. Surprisingly, it is not just before gifts are given that you should watch these packages closely. Let’s take a look at how to increase holiday security by hiding your gift packages after swapping presents.

Dispose of Gift Boxes Carefully

After gift-giving is completed, many families dispose of wrapping paper and packaging as quickly as possible. Boxes that held appliances, video game consoles, and other entertainment-related gifts end up on the side of the road. Most burglars only have a small idea about what they might find when breaking into a house. However, leaving gift packages out in the open can act as a commercial for your new, expensive items. We recommend taking steps to prevent this from happening to you. For example, taking your post-holiday collection of holiday-related boxes and packaging directly to the dump will prevent “window-shopping” thieves from targeting your home. At this point, we’ve looked at several steps you can take to protect gifts in your home. Let’s also examine some basic tips for keeping your home safe during your holiday travels.

A "snowman" made out of sand on a beach with a santa hat.

If you plan on traveling to a warmer locale this holiday season, make sure to follow our tips to keeping your empty home safe.

Take Basic Precautions if You Travel

In our post on Thanksgiving Security, we discussed how to travel for that holiday as safely and securely as possible. As we get closer to Christmas, these precautions remain paramount. Following our first step and installing a home security system will tremendously alleviate the danger of a break-in during your travels. However, you can take some simple steps to make your home a less attractive target whether or not you install home security. Consider asking the post office to hold your mail, as an overflowing mailbox usually points to an empty house.

Asking neighbors to check on your home periodically prevents your home from remaining suspiciously unoccupied for days at a time. If you receive packages from sources other than the USPS, your house sitters can also bring them inside ASAP. Consider hiring someone to plow your driveway if it snows during vacation as well. A snow-filled driveway after a storm points to absent homeowners. Finally, keep your travel plans to you and your friends until returning. We’ve discussed keeping photos and vacation details off of social media in previous posts. The holidays provide criminals with increasing opportunities to find something valuable in your home. Couple that with increased chances for finding empty homes, and the danger of a burglary increases tremendously. Regardless of your specific holiday plans, you’ll likely put up your favorite holiday decorations this year. Let’s discuss some tips to help you decorate wisely and safely.

A house and fecne decorated with Christmas lights.

Making sure that you choose the proper holiday lights and installation methods can help keep you and your home safe this holiday season.

Decorate Wisely

Looking at and creating holiday decorations remains one of the longest-standing holiday traditions. However, many people decorate purely with looks in mind, without considering safety and security. Holiday decorations often involve lights and other electronics. Whether decorating indoors or outdoors, double-check your lights’ cords for damage. Additionally, any extension cords that you use outdoors should have an outdoor rating. Manufacturers also label outdoor lights specifically for outside installation. Whether installing indoors or out, your holiday lights should also be listed by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (or “UL”) or a similar laboratory for safety.

Finally, take precautions with the most famous of all holiday decorations: your tree. If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it far away from any heating sources. On the flipside, any artificial trees you decorate should have a “fire resistant” label on them. Additionally, find a smart place to place your tree. Many people put their tree by a picture window, providing a nice view for passersby. Unfortunately, this can also give onlookers a good view of presents piling up under the tree. Just as with leaving gift packaging on the curb, this allows thieves to “window shop” before attempting a break-in.

Creating a Complete Plan for Holiday Security

We hope that this post has given you some ideas for improving your own holiday security this year. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of the season often leads homeowners to overlook safety concerns. If you have any questions about the information in this post, please do not hesitate to contact us. We provide free site surveys for homeowners to address these issues and more. We’ll be happy to stop by to address any concerns that you may have. Additionally, we can also make recommendations on our own. Together we can create a plan to make you feel holly, jolly, and safe this holiday season.