Ahh, the sights, smells, and tastes of Thanksgiving! Many people count this late autumn holiday among their favorite. The festive fall decorations, large family gatherings, and gut-busting dishes set this day apart. However, Thanksgiving traditions also bring about the potential for safety and security risks. The near-constant cooking and frequent family travel make it a good idea to beef up your Thanksgiving security by taking some simple precautions. In this post, we aim to share some of our most important Thanksgiving security tips.

The hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations, combined with excessive oven and stove use, create an ideal environment for a fire to start. We always think of life security first and foremost above all else when discussing security. Therefore, we’ll start our post with some ideas to improve security against fire. We will also discuss how to address security issues that arise because of holiday traveling. Homes that are clearly empty make a popular target for burglars. We’ll give you tips to help alleviate this danger. Let’s begin with taking some steps to help detect fire, one of the most common Thanksgiving security threats.

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

On their website, the NFPA calls Thanksgiving “the peak day for home cooking fires.” This should come as no surprise, given that fact that Thanksgiving is also the peak day for home cooking. Constant food preparation provides countless opportunities for a fire to start or for carbon monoxide levels to build. This makes keeping your fire and carbon monoxide devices in working order especially important around Thanksgiving. Testing the devices that alert you to these events minimizes the danger of a potential situation getting out of hand.

Keep in mind that the “test” button on smoke alarms really only tests the sounder. To test a smoke alarm’s ability to detect smoke, hold a lit match underneath it. You can test a CO detector’s ability to detect carbon monoxide by exposing it to small amounts of CO and seeing how it reacts. This website has some methods for using incense to test a couple different types of detectors. Making sure these devices will do their jobs adds tremendous Thanksgiving security against these very common dangers.

A candle burning between pumpkins

Candles make for a popular Thanksgiving decoration. However, when left unattended they can also create an instant fire hazard.

Stay Vigilant About All Fire Hazards

Of course, large gatherings of people eating meals together also create potential fire hazards unrelated to cooking. Perhaps you like to use fall-scented candles as part of a festive centerpiece on your table. Or maybe you have a number of guests whose coats, hats, and gloves end up on a radiator or heater in a bedroom while everyone sits around a table in the dining room. Watching out for these types of circumstances can significantly improve your Thanksgiving security when it comes to fire hazards.

Additionally, make sure to keep an extra eye on children around the kitchen. Tots have a way of wanting to “adjust” oven knobs or touch hot burners. Many accidents happen this way while adults take a post-feast nap or enjoy a holiday beverage with friends and family. Feel free to read up on our post on Improving Fire Safety for Your Family for more general tips on this topic. Now, let’s take a look at some Thanksgiving security tips for families traveling for their holiday.

Keep Family Travel Plans in the Family

The opportunity to share exciting family travel plans with others proves too big a temptation to resist for many holiday travelers. However, we highly recommend monitoring who you share these plans with. We discussed the dangers of oversharing travel plans in our post on Avoiding Common Security Mistakes. Sharing plans or vacation photos on social media, in particular, advertises your absence to a wide audience. Acquaintances and “friends of friends” may see this information and view it as in invitation to attempt a break-in. Burglars spend time sizing up their potential targets’ homes before attempting a crime. In today’s technology-driven world, social media stalking has entered the modern criminals’ normal preparation routine.

Even outside of social media, remain vigilant about who you mention your plans to, and where. Sharing your week-long travel plans to the cashier in a crowded grocery store could attract attention. Additionally, acquaintances may mention your plans to others in the course of normal conversation. While exciting plans are certainly worth sharing with trusted individuals, stay mindful of who hears these plans, and where. In addition to keeping your travel agenda somewhat private, you should take other steps to secure your empty house. Let’s examine a few ways to keep your home from becoming an easy, attractive target for crooks.

Take Steps to Disguise an Empty Home

Burglars know the best times of the year to find an empty home, and they do their best to take advantage. Making it less obvious that your home is empty makes it a less attractive target for thieves. In this section, we will look at a couple approaches to making your home look less empty during family trips. We’ll start by examining some smart home technology that we provide to accomplish this goal. From there we’ll look at some common-sense approaches to minimizing the risk of leaving your home empty.

Use Home Automation to Your Advantage

A house with lights on at dusk.

Smart home technology makes it easy to set up lighting schedules that make your home look occupied.

In our Vacation Security System To-Do List, we discussed the importance of making your house look at least potentially occupied at all times. Installing some basic home automation devices can help you accomplish this task. If you have a security system with an interactive cellular dialer, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, you can easily add these smart home features. Smart lights, for example, provide you many opportunities to make your home look occupied. You can turn lights on and off in real time with your smartphone while you are away. Additionally, these lights allow you to create time schedules to turn them on and off. Or, if you find this too predictable, you can set up a randomized light schedule.

Install Smart Home Cameras to Keep an Eye Out

Many of our customers look for smart home products that help keep an eye on their homes during vacation. We have a couple options to that provide this opportunity. We offer wifi-powered cameras that record and store motion-based events for later reference. You can watch these cameras through a smart phone or computer at any time for a live check-in. Additionally, your cameras can send you motion-based clips in real time if you are away. This allows you to immediately alert the authorities if needed.

Finally, the Alarm.com doorbell cameras that we install add an extra layer of security. These cameras do everything that the cameras listed above can accomplish. Additionally, these cameras also allow you to talk to any visitor who rings the doorbell. As we discussed in our post on Burglars in Disguise, most criminals do ring the doorbell before attempting a break-in. The ability to view and even interact with these potential burglars greatly enhances your Thanksgiving security if you plan on traveling. Now that we’ve seen a couple ways to use technology to keep an eye on your home during your travels, let’s also review some simple “best practices” to help you accomplish this same goal.

Mail in a mailbox.

The presence of mail beginning to pile up in mailboxes advertises an empty home to potential burglars.

Keep up Appearances

You can help maintain your home’s “occupied” appearances by involving others in your Thanksgiving security plan as well. We always recommend asking the post office to hold your mail during your absence. Burglars see a consistently full mailbox as a sign of an empty home. Additionally, ask a trusted neighbor to watch your mailbox as well. Occasionally burglars will put junk mail in peoples’ mailboxes themselves to see what happens. Having a neighbor on the lookout for this can help thwart clever criminals trying to find an empty home.

Asking a neighbor to occasionally park a car in your driveway can also make your home appear occupied. A consistently empty driveway often points to a consistently empty home, so this can help. Furthermore, having someone you trust occasionally go inside your home and check on things for you adds both security and peace of mind.


Putting Together a Complete Thanksgiving Security Plan

Whether you plan on celebrating at home or traveling, we hope you’ve found some useful Thanksgiving security tips in this post. It is unfortunate that disaster often strikes at the times of the year that families look forward to the most. However, following these tips and thinking ahead can greatly reduce your vulnerability during this time of the year. If you have any questions about the material in this post, we encourage you to contact us. We will happily answer any questions you may have. Additionally, we provide free home site surveys. While there, we will address any specific concerns you have and make our own recommendations as well. Together we can create a plan to allow you to remain as safe and secure as possible during this Thanksgiving season.