Editors Note: A guest post from John Cuyoca to The Prepper Journal. Make note that Round 12 of the Prepper Writing Contest will be posted next week. Remember, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes. Chances are you’ve already got your holiday presents, and your family’s already excited to open them. Maybe you’re meeting and catching up with relatives you’ve missed for so long, and it’s somehow easier than usual to break out a smile for people passing by. But even at this time, it pays to keep your guard up. Holiday incidents can happen to anyone, and the season of giving can also be the season for taking.
Make no mistake: people can be naughty or nice. And as many law enforcement officials can tell you, the not-nice people of the world don’t take vacations from their habits. They can look for the gifts under your tree, the car in your driveway, and anything else you have that they might want. From that point, they can start thinking about how to make it all theirs. Unless you take the right home safety steps, you could be letting those Grinches win.
Keep Safe from Strangers
Some people will go too far and stoop too low to get what they want. Recently in Philadelphia, an older woman let a pair of men into her house, thinking that they were utility workers, only to be robbed. One elderly man in San Francisco was brutally attacked in his residence. And a family in Georgia was recently tied up and robbed at home by a group of armed men dressed as policemen.
Keeping your home safe is essential especially when it’s occupied, so it’s best to keep a few basic measures in mind. First is to always keep entryways into your residence secured — with multiple locks, if possible. If you have Christmas decorations in the front yard, make sure they’re plugged into an outlet at your porch or garage rather than one inside the house; leaving doors even a tiny bit ajar for wires to run through can be disastrous.
And unless you’re expecting them, don’t just let strangers into your house. Ask why they’re there, and if you can, find a way to verify their story or identity. As for people claiming to be law enforcement officials, you can open the door and answer questions they may have, but you don’t have to let them in. Remember, policemen can enter your home only if you let them or they have a warrant.
Of course, some members of your family may be too trusting and likely to let strangers in. If you have a home security system, such as a DSC alarm system, you may want to give them a panic button to wear around their wrist or neck. That way, they still have a chance to sound the alarm when they’re in trouble.
Don’t Show Them What You Got
If you have friends or family from far away, you may not have all your presents underneath the tree; some may arrive at your doorstep. It isn’t that surprising, since online shopping is definitely a hot trend for the busy. But if you’re going to be away from home, you might want to consider additional security measures. Here in the US, in Canada, and even as far as the UK, a new type of crime is on the rise: package theft.
If you’re expecting a package and no one in your family can receive it, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out and, if possible, keep it until you get back. Outdoor cameras can also be useful to ensure home safety when you’re away from home; just make sure they’re working and functional, especially if there’s a risk of them being compromised due to extreme weather conditions. In the same way, outdoor sirens and strobe lights can deter would-be porch invaders.
Also, stay vigilant even after you’ve opened your presents. People who receive high-end electronic systems like TVs or gaming systems often make the mistake of just dumping the boxes outside — where criminals can see what they can score. To be safe, always rip boxes up before throwing them away.
Stay Sharp on Holiday Trips
Not all of us are home for the holidays: maybe you have some business to take care of or need to visit old friends. Or maybe the grand family reunion isn’t going to be held at your house this year. Whatever the case may be, holiday travel can be risky especially if you’re visiting an unfamiliar place.
Airport and mall parking lots are a perfect example. People tend to concentrate less when they’re lugging around luggage or big shopping bags — prime pickings for petty thieves. As a traveler, you shouldn’t be distracted: have your key ready, don’t take calls or send messages in public places, and be aware of your surroundings.
If you’re staying at a hotel, note the emergency numbers and keep your room key with you at all times. For additional holiday vacation safety, talk to people about any areas you’re going to visit. Travelers renting cars will especially want to learn about the risk of vehicle break-ins. If you can’t avoid parking in a high-risk spot, don’t leave valuables in the car, or at least make sure they can’t be seen from outside.And put your valuable away BEFORE you get to the parking structure as you will most likely be observed doing it once you park. Also, since wireless signals from car key fobs can be cloned, it may be safer to lock the doors manually.
Leave Your Property Protected
Take note: the holidays are also the season for home break-ins. Far too often, people traveling out of state to visit relatives leave their property exposed. In fact, the incidence of burglaries tends to rise during the Christmas season.
To make sure you’re leaving the house safe while on a holiday, keep your valuables hidden; draw the shades and the curtains so the inside of your house can’t be seen. If you have a security system, keep the cameras on and the sensors armed. Assuming your system also has smart-home capabilities, you can also set timers on lights, the television, and other electronics to make people think the house is still occupied; don’t spoil that illusion by posting pictures on social media. Again, a trusted neighbor can help by picking up any mail you get. The Post Office also holds mail when asked.
And if you’re a gun owner, make sure your guns are stored away safely. There’s an increasing incidence of people breaking into gun stores and stealing weapons, which they later use to commit more crimes. Make your community and family a little safer by keeping your weapons out of the wrong hands.
Threats and problems will come, no matter the season. And the more you can prepare and guard yourself against the worst, the happier and more content you’ll be in the long run. Sure, taking all these precautions might cost you a little more effort, a little more energy, and a little more time, and it all adds to the stress of everyday life. But if it means making sure that the holidays are filled with comfort and joy, there’s no question that it’s all worth it.