Many people are extra watchful during the holidays of typical home safety issues like Christmas tree fires and break-ins; after Christmas we get lax. Even after the holidays, however, winter brings different challenges. A little vigilance can save us from falling into one of these winter traps.
• Frozen locks on our cars and on our homes. Snow can get into the lock, melt and refreeze, making it impenetrable to your key. Worse, your key can break off while you struggle to open your doors. Keep an inexpensive lock defroster on your key chain (they cost as little as $10). That way, you can melt the ice and open your locks easily.
• “Huffing” to warm cars. Many of us start our cars and then run inside our houses while the heater warms the car interior and melts the ice on the windshield. Don’t do it. A running car is a temptation many thieves cannot walk away from. Besides, in many areas, huffing is illegal, and your insurance company may not cover your losses.
• Snow-packed driveways. This is a sure sign to thieves that you are not home. It may be an extra cost to hire someone to keep your driveway and sidewalks clear while you are away, but having your home broken into would certainly spoil your vacation.
• Burning candles. Make certain to position candles away from drapes or other fabric. Drafts can cause them to flare and raise sparks. Never leave a candle burning when you leave home or go to bed. That seems like something no one would do, but it is surprisingly easy to forget.
• Dark houses. Put your house lights on a timer. That way, it will appear to thieves that someone is home. Put your holiday gifts away as well, because many holiday thieves peer into windows looking for your prized possessions.
The last hint is one that applies all year round. Have a home security system installed. The units are inexpensive because the companies that sell them rely on monthly monitoring charges that can amount to $50 or more to make a profit. Companies like Alarm Relay perform the same alarm system monitoring for a fraction of that cost. The service alerts the same first responders and works on the same 24/7 schedule as the installation company monitoring service does. The monitoring-only companies may also offer more training to their service people, and that is a plus.