Staying safe this season

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

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This year’s holiday season has already proven to be as busy and wonderfully hectic as ever — shopping, gift-giving and celebrating with friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s an equally busy time of year for home burglars.

Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States during the holiday months each year, according to the FBI. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends homeowners take extra precautions to protect their homes during the holidays, due to the many home invasions at this time of year.

A few proactive measures and common sense can prevent your holiday season from being wrecked by a break-in.

First and foremost, lock up! Whether it’s a short trip to the grocery store or a longer haul to finish some shopping, make sure your doors and windows are securely locked. Never leave boxes from expensive gifts laying on the curb for trash pickup. Consider crushing them and placing them in a large, black garbage bag.

Remember that nothing is more effective at deterring a burglar than the impression that the home is occupied. Make it look like it is by installing timers on your lights.

Have a friend or a neighbor collect your mail or temporarily stop newspaper and mail service if your neighbors can’t help you out.

Store valuables like jewelry in a secure place. A home safe can be a great option for storing various valuables including important home and family-related documents.

Keep your garage door closed at all times. Garage doors are a favorite point of entry for burglars. Keep the door from your garage into your home locked as well.

Be sure that your trees and shrubs don’t hide windows and doors. Blocked entrances can make it easier for burglars to get into your home unnoticed by neighbors and passersby.

Leave spare keys only with trusted family members or neighbors you are close to. Do not hide them outside. Burglars are smart enough to look around and know the common places people hide keys.

If you will be away for a lengthy period, entertain the idea of a house sitter. It may turn out to be well worth the money.

You may also want to consider a home security system. Check online or look in your phone book to find companies specializing in home security.

Most experts agree that your neighbors are your best defense. Get to know them and chances are they will be more likely to watch for suspicious activity around your home while you’re away — and ask them to call 911.

Break-ins can be easily avoided by taking the proper precautions.

For more information on home protection during the holidays, go to biahawaii.org.

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.