Our homes are very important to us – they're not just wood, nails and concrete, they represent our families, our histories, our accomplishments and who we are.
Here’s some ideas to help make your new home (and hence your family) more safe and secure.
· If you’re going on vacation or are going to be away from your home or apartment for several days, create the illusion someone is occupying your home.
· If you are going on vacation, leave your home in the care of someone you trust and let them know where you can be reached in case of emergency.
· Arrange to have your mail and newspapers picked up, your grass cut, the leaves raked or the snow removed as necessary.
· Have a neighbour check both inside and outside the home every few days.
· Use timers on interior lights when you are going to be away or just out for the evening. These can be set to turn the lights and radio or television on and off intermittently to give the appearance that someone is home. Don't worry about driving up the cost of your electricity bill – it only costs about $0.75 per month.
· Have a neighbour park their car in your driveway or your designated parking stall. If you have a garage, keep the door closed and locked so no one can see if your car is gone.
· Turn the ringer on your telephone off or set your answering machine or voicemail to pick up on the second ring and do not leave specific information about your absence.
· Install security lights around the perimeter of your house. They are relatively inexpensive and are a great deterrent, especially if they are set with motion detectors. If you already have non-motion lights, battery operated add-on motion sensors exist that simply screw into the existing light socket and mount near the fixture.
· Never leave a note or a voicemail message indicating you are not at home.
· Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions.
· Do not share your vacation plans in social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
· If you have recently purchased a television, stereo or other household item, do not throw the empty boxes in the alley garbage.
· Never hide keys outside, whether in a bush or in a flower pot. Burglars know where to find “secret” hiding places. Its much better to leave a key with a trusted neighbour.
· When you are in the backyard, lock the front door and vice versa. When inside, it is a good idea to keep your doors locked.
· Consider keeping your blinds and / or curtains closed at night because people can see in and you can’t see out.
· Always lock up ladders and tools. Don't give a burglar the resources to break into your home.
· Window air conditioning units should be bolted to the wall to prevent them from being easily removed from the outside.
· When moving to a new home, hire a reliable locksmith to re-key all exterior doors. If possible, have the locksmith make the key to fit all locks.
· Keep emergency numbers near your phone for quick access.
· Be cautious about providing any information regarding yourself or your neighbours over the phone or in person.
· If you can't put your irreplaceable items in a safe or a safety deposit box, try to remove them from plain view if you are going out. Put them in a closed cupboard or hide them away.
· Alarms: Installing an electronic home security system is one of the most popular methods of protecting your home. An alarm system is intended to detect a burglary, but it will not necessarily prevent one.
One of the most useful tools for crime prevention is to call 911. Many people believe that the police do not want to be called if something suspicious is happening, but this is not so. When in doubt, call the police. Here are some situations in which you would call 911:
. a vehicle that seems to be "casing" the neighbourhood
· furniture being removed from homes when the owners are on vacation or at work
· an abandoned car
· a stranger looking into homes or parked cars
· unusual activities of pets, such as a dog barking that is normally quiet
· a salesperson going door to door who doesn't have proper identification
. unusual noises such as someone talking loud or screaming.